Local reports reveal that Qatar has initiated the illegal recruitment of 12,000 Nepali citizens for its police force in the run-up to the 2022 soccer World Cup in the country.
Nepal’s government forbids its citizens from serving in Qatar’s security agencies as no formal agreement exists. The Nepali embassy in Qatar has sent a letter to the country’s foreign ministry regarding the issue but no decision has been made.
Qatar had sent a letter to the Nepal government expressing its interest in recruiting 200 Nepalis for its security agency in the initial phase but Nepali authorities are in dilemma.
Details from Qatar’s Ministry of Interior expose recruitment of a Nepali man on a yearly resident visa where the individual’s profession is stated as “Police Army Staff.”
The Qatari government had made the offer of recruiting Nepali youths to their police force and had committed to meeting the expenses involved, including providing free visas.
A lack of jobs and the effects of the pandemic mean mushrooming manpower agencies in Nepal and brokers are seeing this as an opportunity and luring Nepali youths with job offers in Qatar’s police force, charging them a hefty amount in the process.
Nepal and Qatar are yet to sign a formal agreement about the issue. In the absence of a formal agreement between the two countries, illegal recruitment by unethical manpower agencies is rampant.
Last November the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) raided four manpower agencies in Kathmandu, which exposed a syndicate that sent Nepali citizens to Qatar for employment via illegal means. It was also revealed that the Qatar Embassy in Kathmandu was involved in the illegal recruitment of Nepali youths for its police force when the embassy’s vehicle was spotted at the premise of a local recruitment agent, Hope International.
Around 400 Nepali youths were interviewed by Hope International when the DoFE raided the agency.
Three manpower agencies, in particular, have been found sending Nepali youths abroad for migrant work in large numbers: SoS Manpower Services P. Ltd, Hope International, and DD Human Resources P. Ltd. The chairman of SoS Manpower Services, Hem Bahadur Gurung, is also the CEO of the Qatar Visa Center, which issues Qatari visas to Nepali nationals.
DD Human Resources (DDHR) is known for its legal citations from the labor department in Nepal time and again and is one of the biggest players in illegal recruitment schemes. The company has been supplying security guards to the Private Security Business Department (PSBD) and Dubai Protective Security (DPS) in the United Arab Emirates. It is also learned that DDHR has already been recruiting for the Ministry of Interior (popularly known as Qatar police in Nepal) while charging 0.7-1.1 million Nepali rupees (about $6,023-$9,465) in recruitment fees per worker.
The recent government raid of the above-mentioned three agencies reveals that there is a direct link between the Qatari diplomats and the recruitment agencies.
The Guardian recently revealed that more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since the oil-rich state won the World Cup hosting rights a decade ago.
Qatar’s dismal human rights record and innumerable deaths of Nepali workers over the years should alert the Nepal government.
Andy Hall, an immigration expert, told The Diplomat: “Nepal and Qatar’s governments need to urgently come with a transparent, legal and ethical agreement that ensures the upcoming increase in recruitment of security personnel needed for the FIFA World Cup 2022 can be undertaken in a way that prevents the systemic extortion of the candidates involved. Recruitment must be legal and ethical with all costs borne by the Qatari state or Qatari employers.”
But manpower agencies in Nepal, operating with profit-making interests, will seek to pressurize the Nepal government to not sign a formal agreement with Qatar. Existing agreements with South Korea and Malaysia have removed the illicit operations of manpower agencies but several problems persist. With Qatar, it is even more severe and the Nepal government needs to get serious about it and opt for ethical recruitment and safeguard the rights and lives of migrant workers.
On March 8 Nepal’s Minister for Labor, Employment, and Social Security Gauri Shankar Chaudhary stated that the government is in talks with Qatar regarding the recruitment for their security agencies. But it is unclear if Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will agree with the agreement.