Qatari authorities rounded up and expelled dozens of migrant workers after telling them they were being taken to be tested for COVID-19, Amnesty International has learned. The organisation interviewed 20 men from Nepal who were apprehended by Qatari police alongside hundreds of others in March. The police told most of the men that they were going to be tested for COVID-19 and would be returned to their accommodation afterwards. Instead, they were taken to detention centres and held in appalling conditions for several days, before being sent to Nepal.
“None of the men we spoke to had received any explanation for why they were treated this way, nor were they able to challenge their detention or expulsion. After spending days in inhumane detention conditions, many were not even given the chance to collect their belongings before they were put on planes to Nepal,” said Steve Cockburn, AmnestyInternational’s Deputy Director of Global Issues.“It is disturbing that the Qatari authorities appear to have used the pandemic as a smokescreen for further abuses against migrant workers, many of whom feel police misled them by saying that they were to be ‘tested’. COVID-19 is no excuse for arbitrarily rounding people up.“The authorities must provide reparations for the way that these men have been treated, and consider allowing those who have been expelled to return to Qatar if they so wish. The men’s employers must also urgently pay the salary and employment benefits they are owed.”