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Qatar provides new smartphone service for reporting 'absconding' workers

On August 18, 2014

The Qatari Ministry of Interior (MoI) is encouraging employers to submit reports of runaway workers via a new feature on their Metrash2 e-governance service, which can be used on a smartphone.

This will "save time and effort" and "highlights the MoI’s eagerness to provide quality electronic facilities that help the public avail of services easily and conveniently"  according to a statement on the MoI's website.

This move will give Qatari employers yet another layer of protection from supposed transgressions by migrant workers.

The news comes just a month after the Qatari government rolled out an automated, multilingual complaint service, where migrant workers can enter complaints on machines in public areas. In May, the Ministry of Information launched a initiative called the 'Better Connections Programme' which aims to provide internet access to migrants in labour camps and access to information about, among other things, workers' rights.

However, despite these positive signals, the new service on Metrash2 suggests that the Qatari state is quick to criminalise migrant workers, even though many of those who 'abscond' from their jobs are doing so because they are unhappy.

"Much of the discontent felt by “runaway” workers can be attributed to the current kafala system, in which employees do not have the freedom to switch jobs without the permission of their current employer" said Aakash Jayaprakash, migration specialist and founder of Migrant Support-Qatar, a civil society organisation, in DohaNews.