Manama: Qatar's interior ministry has reiterated its policy of zero-tolerance towards anyone sheltering absconding workers or employing them.

"We implement the law that stipulates that a person who gives shelter to absconding workers or employs him or her is liable for imprisonment and payment of a sum ranging from QR20,000 ($5,490) to QR100,000 ($27,450) as fine," Nasser Eisa Al Sayed, head of investigation and follow-up, said.

"If an absconding domestic helper on a personal sponsorship is arrested or surrenders voluntarily within 30 days from the date of the filing of the first information report (FIR) by the sponsor, the sponsor has to pay for the air ticket to deport the person to his or her native country. But if the person is arrested after 30 days, the case is referred to the public prosecutor for legal procedures," he said, quoted by Qatari daily Gulf Times.

Al Sayed was among ministry officials participating in a Ramadan tents held to interact with the public on daily problems that included absconding workers, traffic congestion, reckless driving.

Reacting to a question on whether it was permissible to recruit more than one domestic helper, Mohammad Ahmad Al Ateeq, the assistant director of immigration and passports, said that visas were normally issued for only one domestic helper and two car drivers.

"These visas are issued after ascertaining the ability of the sponsor to keep these helpers and pay their wages regularly," he said.

Under the sponsorship system, Qatar, like most Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, foreigners need local sponsors to take up work, switch jobs or live in the country.

Several unskilled labourers or domestic helpers tend to run away from their employers when they feel they are ill-treated, overloaded with tasks or abused. Several employers claim that the workers or helpers abscond to look for more lucrative positions.