Qatar's migrant workers should be compensated fairly, says Amnesty International ©Getty Images

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has criticised the Qatari Labour Minister Ali bin Samikh al-Marri for calling a push for compensation for migrant workers in the country a "publicity stunt" in a recent interview.

Speaking to French news agency AFP, Marri criticised the push for money for the migrants who worked on the infrastructure for the FIFA World Cup, including to those injured or the families of the dead.

"This call for a duplicative FIFA-led compensation campaign is a publicity stunt," said Marri.

"We have dealt with and resolved a lot of cases.

"Every death is a tragedy but there are no criteria to establish this fund. 

"Where are the victims? 

"Do you have the names?"

Amnesty International's head of economic and social justice Steve Cockburn said compensation must be expanded.

"It is hugely disappointing to hear calls for greater compensation be dismissed," he said.

"The vast majority of migrant workers who have now returned home to countries like Nepal or Bangladesh are unable to access Qatar’s current scheme.

"There will be no compensation for them to reclaim stolen wages or illegal recruitment fees, let alone provide much needed financial support for those families who have lost a loved one.

"While the money paid out this year is undoubtedly important, Qatar's Minister saying that their door is open to workers who have suffered abuses is insufficient, and a much more proactive approach is needed to ensure that justice is within reach for everyone.

"Qatar must expand its existing compensation funds or establish a new one - no-one is saying it is easy, but if the will is there, a solution could be found that would transform the lives of so many workers."

Qatari Labour Minister Ali bin Samikh al-Marri was criticised for his dismissive comments ©Getty Images
Qatari Labour Minister Ali bin Samikh al-Marri was criticised for his dismissive comments ©Getty Images

Groups such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) pressured Qatar's Government to abolish kafala, a system where sponsored foreign workers could not leave their jobs, regardless of the working standards.

They bowed to this call, but several issues still remain. 

The ILO estimates 50 foreign labourers have died and more than 500 have been seriously injured in 2021 in Qatar alone.

Qatari authorities claim 37 people have died between 2014 and 2020 on World Cup projects, but the ILO say this has been underestimated due to missing out figures related to heart attack and respiratory failure - caused by the heat in the country.

Qatar has also deported workers who protested against unpaid labour, with some saying they had not been paid for seven weeks.

The Government say 30,000 migrant workers were hired to build the FIFA World Cup stadiums - mostly coming from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines.

Labourers have also been left with debts to the country in recruitment fees.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to begin on November 20.