India: More transparency needed over migrant deaths in Gulf

News
February 21, 2014

India: More transparency needed over migrant deaths in Gulf

The government of India should provide more detailed information about the circumstances of deaths in Qatar and other Gulf countries, Amnesty International India said today.   

Figures obtained by the AFP news agency and the Guardian newspaper through Right to Information (RTI) requests show that at least 450 Indian nationals died in Qatar in 2012 and 2013. The Indian embassy in Qatar has stated that the number of deaths reported are ‘quite normal’ considering the size of the Indian community, and that most of the deaths took place due to natural causes. 

“Instead of simply saying that such deaths are normal, the Indian government should provide clearer and more transparent information because at this point, we are unable to say how these deaths took place - whether on construction worksites, in labour camps, road accidents or as a result of natural causes,” Nikhil Eapen, Spokesperson, Amnesty International India, said. 

“What we need to know is who these people were - how old they were and what work they were doing - and how they died.”   

“The Indian government should also work urgently with the Qatari government and other governments across the Gulf to address the serious labour abuses experienced by Indian migrant workers. That will require tackling abuses in the recruitment phase in India, as well as the countries of destination.”   

Amnesty International India is calling on the Indian government to engage closely with the government of Qatar and other Gulf states to enforce and strengthen bilateral agreements, administrative and legal procedures to protect the human rights of Indian migrant workers.   

In November 2013, Amnesty International released an extensive report on human rights abuses in Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. The report revealed widespread and routine abuse of migrant workers - in some cases amounting to forced labour. 

Abuses include non-payment of wages, harsh and dangerous working conditions, and shocking standards of accommodation. Researchers also met dozens of construction workers who were prevented from leaving the country for many months by their employers – leaving them trapped in Qatar with no way out. 

Amnesty International has called on the Government of Qatar to carry out an urgent cross-government review of migrant workers' health conditions, including an investigation into the underlying causes of deaths among migrant workers. The government should urgently develop a transparent plan to address these causes, particularly where they relate to industrial accidents, work conditions and access to healthcare.