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Qatar to change sponsorship laws

Qatar is to issue a new sponsorship law that would ease residence and visa procedures for expatriates in the country, an official said.

  • By Barbara Bibbo’, Correspondent
  • Published: 00:00 July 18, 2005
  • Gulf News

Qatar is to issue a new sponsorship law that would ease residence and visa procedures for expatriates in the country, an official said.

Several ministries, governmental departments and the national human rights watchdog are discussing the draft law that would reform sponsorship, deportation rules and visa procedures.

"The new law currently under study will change the current sponsorship rules, visa procedures and deportation policy," Mohammad Fouad, legal consultant at the National Human Rights Committee told Gulf News.

"There are intense discussions at the moment on how the new legislation should tackle these issues. However, the law could be ready by the autumn or by the end of the year at the latest."

The official said the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), the ministry of foreign affairs, the ministry of interior and the labour department have formed a committee that is in charge of chalking out the law.

Fouad said the different bodies concerned are currently trying to find an agreement on the new law's provisions.

According to Sayed Jadallah, director of legal affairs at the NHRC, the human rights body has submitted a proposal that suggests several drastic changes to the old legislation.

One of them is the abolition of the exit permit, a rule obliging an expatriate to obtain a written permit by the sponsor in order to leave the country.

"We have asked that the exit permit rule be abolished or reformed to ease the movement of expatriates. The current legislation is breaching a fundamental right of any individual, the freedom of movement," the official told Gulf News.

According to the local daily Peninsula, Ali Bin Samikh Al Marri, general secretary of the NHRC, said the Committee also suggested that any expatriate worker should have the right to change sponsorship without previous consent of his/her sponsor, if the employer has breached his contractual obligations.

According to the ground-breaking proposal, the employer would lose the right to detain the employee in case of non payment of salary and other dues, abuse and mistreatment of the worker and expiry of the contract period.

The employee should also be allowed to change the sponsor without the latter's consent if he/she is terminated from service without any valid reason. In the existing law the employer is bound to reinstate the person in his job in such a situation.

"There are many employers who are delaying the salaries of the workers for several months. And if the worker lodges a complaint, he will be either repatriated or forced to give up his claims.

"We have received so many complaints of this nature, which has prompted the committee to come out with these recommendations," Al Marri was quoted as saying.

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