Qatar's efforts to prevent the abuse of migrant workers have been "woefully inadequate" since the Gulf state pledged to confront exploitation following an outcry over the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. (Also Read: FIFA Clears Russia and Qatar to Host World Cup)
Qatar said in May it would implement reforms to address the conditions of migrant labourers, many of whom are helping to build stadiums for the World Cup finals.
But human rights group Amnesty said progress has been minimal and accused the government of dragging its feet.
"Time is running out fast," Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty's head of refugee and migrants' rights, said in a statement accompanying its investigation.
"It has been four years since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup, putting itself in the global spotlight. So far its response to migrant labour abuses has not been much more than promises of action and draft laws.
"Urgent action is needed to ensure we do not end up with a World Cup tournament that is built on forced labour and exploitation."
Amnesty said its report has analysed Qatar's response to "nine key issues critical to the rights of migrant workers", including laws that tie workers to an employer and force workers to secure an exit permit in order to leave the country.
"Despite making repeated promises to clean up its act ahead of the World Cup, the government ofQatar still appears to be dragging its feet over some of the most fundamental changes needed, such as abolishing the exit permit and overhauling its abusive sponsorship system," Elsayed-Ali said.
Qatar appointed international law firm DLA Piper to investigate allegations of abuse following media reports that were met with widespread condemnation.
DLA Piper reported its findings in May, making a series of recommendations.
Amnesty said there had been greater acknowledgement from senior Qatari figures of the issues they face, but Elsayed-Ali added: "Six months later, only a handful of the limited measures announced in May have even been partially implemented. Overall the steps taken so far are woefully insufficient."
According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, Qatar says it is committed to making progress and highlights measures including the introduction of an electronic transfer system to ensure payment of wages on time and higher fines for illegally holding workers' passports.