Qatar Participates in 2020 Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights' High Level Ministerial Meeting

The State of Qatar participated in the high-level ministerial meeting in the United Nations Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights
The State of Qatar was represented in the meeting by HE the Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lolwah Al Khater.
HE the Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in the State of Qatar’s speech that the extraordinary circumstances facing the world with the spread of the Coronavirus require, more than any other time, a focus on human rights and particularly labor rights. They also call for prioritizing the safety and health of all workers regardless of their background, in addition upholding and protecting their economic and legal rights, Her Excellency added.
Her Excellency stressed that to the state of Qatar, this is a moral duty, as it focused on taking all the necessary measures to protect all citizens and residents without discrimination.
Her Excellency noted that the State of Qatar adopted a comprehensive package to mitigate the effects of the crisis on the public health and the economy.
Her Excellency added that HH the Amir issued directives to provide financial and economic incentives worth QR75 billion, including QR5 billion of bank guarantees as part of the national guarantee program to support staff payroll-salaries. On the health front, testing, treatment, and healthcare was provided free of charge to all citizens and residents.
HE the Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the State of Qatar adopted in that regard a series of measures that included the opening of a number of field hospitals to raise the total capacity to hospitalize patients, in addition to increasing the number of ICU beds, allocating quarantine facilities that are medically and logistically equipped, in addition to connecting them with the internet for free, and having volunteer teams to provide the necessary mental support, while continuing to pay the wages of all blue-collar workers who under quarantine or receiving treatment.
Her Excellency said that the series of measures included also launching awareness campaigns and new media platforms in more than seven languages in order to reach all segments in the state of Qatar, in addition to providing hot lines in multiple languages to receive labor complaints, as well as automatically-renewing the residency permits of residents who were outside the country.
Her Excellency praised Qatar Airways efforts, who repatriated more than two million people who were stranded all over the world at a time when most airports were closed. The airline also provided 100,000 free tickets to the healthcare sector, and another 100,000 free tickets to teachers, in addition to offering discounts on shipping medical equipment.
Her Excellency noted that the past period saw significant reforms in protecting the rights of expat workers in the State of Qatar, by ending the “kafala” system and replacing it with a contractual system, in addition to removing restrictions related to changing jobs, and becoming the first country in the region to have a law that enforces a minimum wage.
Her Excellency added that other measures included placing a system to protect wages by making it mandatory for all employers to transfer wages through banks, in addition to forming committees to settle labour disputes swiftly, and establishing a workers' support and insurance fund as a complementary measure to the committees resolutions.
Her Excellency highlighted that the International Labor Organization (ILO) said, that with the implementation of these measures, Qatar would become a model for the region when it comes to the rights of expat workers.
Her Excellency said that the State of Qatar signed a technical cooperation agreement with the ILO that yielded an ILO office in the State of Qatar, offering technical consulting in a number of important field. Her Excellency noted that this sets apart the model of the State of Qatar from the rest of the region; in a time when some countries prevent international organizations from entering, the State of Qatar invites the same organizations to cooperate and provide recommendations that would help enhance laws and legislation in the country.
In the closing remarks, HE the Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the State of Qatar remains determined to go forward with comprehensive reforms to enhance the rights of workers, and will continue to cooperate with all the relevant entities and share its positive experience in that regard until it reaches the goals that align with Qatar National Vision 2030. Her Excellency added that this is because the state believes that the relationship between the individual and the economy is directly proportional; as the rights of individuals are enhanced and protected, the individuals will more dedicated to their careers, pushing the economy towards further prosperity.