Doha: Qatar is studying new legislation to combat human trafficking and a comprehensive national plan to protect the increasing number of migrant workers in the Gulf country, an official said yesterday.
"A new law to fight trafficking of workers is under study. It will be among the most advanced legislations in the field," said Sadoon Alhyal, consultant at the National Office for Combating Human Trafficking.
Speaking at a two-day conference that concluded yesterday, International Migration and The Situation of Migrant Workers in the Gulf and the Middle East, Alhyal said the new legislation would be based on Qatar's constitution and labour legislation which extensively provides for migrants and workers' protection.
"We are preparing a national and comprehensive plan to combat the phenomenon in the long term especially as Qatar's econ-omic boom is attracting an increasing number of labourers".
Qatar has a population of 800,000, the majority of whom are expatriate low-income workers in the energy and construction sectors.
Indian nationals represent the largest foreign community, followed by Filipinos and Nepalese. The three communities together total more than 400,000 people, according to unofficial estimates provided by the diplomatic missions here.
Qatar and Gulf immigration and labour policies require that migrants work under local sponsors, a measure which Qatari Prime Minister Shaikh Hamad Bin Jasem Bin Jabr Al Thani just two weeks ago compared to a form of slavery raising concerns in the local business community.
"Migrants workers' situation in the Gulf region needs to be regulated both in importing and sending countries," commented Ali Al Merri, general secretary of the National Human Rights Committee.
Cynthia Gabriel, Vice-president of the Paris based International Federation of Human Rights called for better cooperation between Middle East and Asian countries focused on the stipulation of bilateral and collective agreements, monitoring of recruitment agencies and identifying standards and policies to regulate flows to the region.