Activists investigating the conditions at migrant worker camps claim they are being quizzed themselves by builders on stadium construction sites in Qatar.
They claim the way they were quizzed suggested their interrogators were professionally trained, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Equidem, a global human rights organisation that works exclusively in Qatar, was told by sources that undercover security guards had been allegedly hired to weed out whistleblowers.
“We are in constant contact with workers in Qatar,” said Mustafa Qadri, Equidem’s chief executive.
“And so, while there is an element of speculation, we know that people from Kenya, from India, from Nepal, who look and talk like any normal workers, are basically asking questions of people that are known to be activists.”
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According to Equidem, workers have been able to sniff out the heartless informants in residential camps set up to build Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure ahead of November’s tournament.
They claim the spies have all arrived recently.
It’s thought they’ve been hidden there to spy on human rights bodies and workers looking to speak to them.
They’re also allegedly on the look out for any potential strike actions and terrorist activity.
“Our sense is it’s being arranged by the government, not individual companies,” Qadri said.
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“But the companies may have their own people as well.
“I have to be extremely careful. There has been a high level of surveillance, not just of journalists and people like me visiting the countries, but also of workers.
“And there is a pattern of reprisals for workers who register complaints.”
Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan whistleblower who worked as a security guard in Qatar, was allegedly locked up and fined for “broadcasting and publishing false news with the intent of endangering the public system of the state”.
Bidali claims he was held in solitary confinement for a month before being released last June and reported that he was interrogated about information he passed on about the mistreatment of migrant workers on World Cup construction sites.
Although work for November’s championship is almost complete, workers allegedly told Equidem they noticed an uptick in strange activities at several sites.
“Yes, you have trade unions on the ground and other stakeholders doing really good work, but there is this very tightly controlled space within which you can formally operate with the government’s approval,” Qadri said.
“But if you’re outside that, independent voices face significant risks.”
He claims thousands of workers are still waiting to get paid while organisers allegedly have paid David Beckham a reported £150million to serve as a World Cup ambassador.
Qadri also claims that visiting journalists and activists were banned from taking photos of the camps and that migrant workers have allegedly been threatened with deportation if they spoke to outsiders.
Nicholas McGeehan, co-founder of the Human Rights organisation FairSquare, has called on FIFA and Qatar to set up a compensation scheme for workers’ families waiting to get paid.
The Guardian revealed how 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since hosting the 2022 World Cup was handed to the middle eastern country.
Qatar’s extreme summer heat and poor working conditions are thought to be factors in the deaths.
“Seventy per cent of migrant worker deaths are unexplained, and on World Cup stadium projects, that still runs at 50 per cent,” said McGeehan.
“The rate of unexplained deaths in the UK probably runs at 1 per cent.
“The failure of the Qataris to put in place fundamental protections is inexcusable. Workers are essentially toiling in a toxic sauna.
“‘[Compensation] is doable and it would be transformative to the lives of the families who built this World Cup.
“Workers borrowed obscene amounts of money to get to Qatar with the hope of lifting their families out of poverty and some returned in body bags with no answer for their loved ones as to how they died.”
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The Qatari government has called the allegations “patently untrue” and said in an official statement that it “works proactively with NGOs, like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, to resolve grievances submitted to them by workers”.
The Sun Online has contacted FIFA for comment.
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