Hefty fine for ‘free visa’ trafficker in Qatar

October 22, 2011

A Qatari sponsor has been fined QR800,000 ($219,579) for “selling” work visas in a move to clamp down on illegal “free visa” trade.

The man, referred to by an interior ministry official as a ‘sponsor,’ was asked to pay the fine based on the number of visas that he had sold.

Colonel Nasser Mohammad Al Sayed, director of research and follow-up, said some sponsors brought into Qatar foreign hands, let them work with others or on their own and charged them a monthly fee.

“This is illegal and is a form of human trafficking,” Al Sayed said addressing a symposium entitled ‘Treat Your Employees Well’ in Doha. The symposium was held by the Qatar Foundation for Combating Trafficking.

“Then, there are sponsors who take money from workers to give them a release. This is also illegal and we are determined to tackle these malpractices,” he said. “So one can see that human trafficking begins before a worker is hired and ends when a sponsor demands money to give him a release,” the official said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula on Thursday.

The “rate” of visas for some nationalities had soared to as much as QR60,000 ($16,468), he said.

Referring to the exploitation of domestic helpers, he said there have been some cases in which they were forced by sponsors to work for up to 17 hours a day.

“One domestic helper was asked to wash five cars twice a day without any extra remuneration. In another case, a helper was not paid for months on end and when she demanded her dues, her sponsor decided to repatriate her,” he said.

“Security officials at the Doha International Airport noticed that she had bruises on her face and body and questioned her. It was discovered that she had been tortured by her employer and his sons. After a thorough investigation, the sponsor and his sons were tried and the court eventually sentenced them,” Al Sayed said.

Under Qatar laws, a sponsor who tortures or mistreats a helper can be fined from QR20,000 ($5,489) to QR50,000 ($13,723) and sentenced to three years. If the violation is repeated the penalty can reach up to QR100,000 ($27,447).

Al Sayed said that some helpers ran away from their sponsors “hand-in- glove with manpower agencies.”




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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