Why not lead the way, instead of following?

“Qatar is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and, to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution,” according to the U.S. State Department's 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report. “Over 90 percent of the country’s workforce is comprised of men and women from South and Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East who voluntarily come to work as low- and semi-skilled workers,” the Report observes, “but some are subjected to forced labor. Female domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to trafficking due to their isolation in private residences and lack of protection under Qatari labor laws.”

The annual Report again includes Qatar among Tier 2 countries “whose governments do not fully meet the [Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s] minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to meet those standards.” Qatar also remains on the Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year..

“The Government of Qatar does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period,” the report explains, noting that “Qatar was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has devoted sufficient resources to a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards.”

What does Qatar need to do to move up from Tier 2 to Tier 1? The Report has several recommendations, among them: reforming the sponsorship system “so it does not provide excessive power to sponsors or employers in granting and sustaining the legal status of workers,” providing migrant workers with “protection from abusive practices and working conditions that may amount to forced labor,” investigating and prosecuting trafficking offenses more vigorously, and providing labor law protection for domestic workers.

To monitor and document its progress, Qatar must “collect, dis-aggregate, analyze, and report anti-trafficking law enforcement data” and “report data pertaining to the number of victims identified and the services provided to them.”

Better yet, Qatar could make a commitment to exceeding the minimum standards and strive to become a model for other Gulf nations – and the world – to follow.