Dáil debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

World Cup

10:30 pm

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

There are a number of human rights issues of concern with regard to Qatar including its treatment of migrant workers, as people have said, women's rights, LGBT+ people and, of course, the use of the death penalty. Promoting respect for human rights is one of the core principles of Irish foreign policy. In countries where we have concerns over human rights, including Qatar, we raise these concerns very clearly both in direct contacts with the governments of those countries and in the appropriate international forums. Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs regularly raise concerns bilaterally with the Qatari authorities. Ireland regularly discusses these issues in various EU forums and works closely with other member states to ensure human rights issues in Qatar are addressed.

Since 2018, the EU has held four formal human rights dialogues with Qatar including, most recently, on 13 September in Brussels where the EU underscored the importance of safety for LGBTQI+ persons and labour rights in the context of the World Cup. The EU also liaises with the International Labor Organization, ILO, on these issues and I am pleased that the ILO office in Doha will continue to operate there after the World Cup. Ireland also addresses these issues in international forums, notably at the UN Human Rights Council.

In 2019, at Qatar's most recent universal periodic review at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ireland called on the Qatari Government to abolish the exit permit requirement for migrant workers. I was pleased Qatar moved to end this requirement in January 2020. Qatar has made some notable labour reforms, including to its kafala labour system, but these reforms must be sufficiently implemented and permanent in order for them to be meaningful. Other issues raised at the periodic review of Qatar's human rights record included discrimination and violence against women, the death penalty and migrant workers' rights.

I absolutely understand the scepticism and concern that have been expressed in the context of hosting this World Cup but I can reassure the Deputies that we have raised the issues in the build-up to the World Cup on all of the platforms on which we have an opportunity to do so. This is not just an issue about the World Cup. Qatar is not the only country in the world where we have concerns with regard to human rights abuses and so on. However, of course, when one hosts something as enormous as the World Cup, one has to expect the international spotlight to be on one and on how one treats people and visitors. That is why Qatar is now under that spotlight.


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