QATAR: Children's rights in International Labour Organisation reports

Summary: This report summarises individual observations and direct requests issued by the ILO Committee of Experts related to child labour conventions. To view the full reports, go to the NORMLEX database ( and click on ‘display all documents related to a specific country’.

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Direct Request (CEACR) – adopted 2009 published 99th ILC Session (2010) Minimum Age Convention, 1973 (No. 138) – Qatar (Ratification: 2006)

The information in this brief report regarding ILO C138 contains information from previous sessions.

Article 2, paragraph 1 of the Convention. Scope of application. 

In its previous comments, the Committee noted that section 1 of the Labour Code, Law No. 14 of 2004, defines an employer as being “any natural or juristic person employing one or more workers under his control or supervision”, and a worker as being “any natural person who works in return for a wage for an employer or under his control or supervision”. Consequently, it appears that, based on these definitions, the Labour Code applies only to work performed under an employment relationship. The Committee requested the Government to provide information on the manner in which children who are not bound by an employment relationship, such as those who are self-employed, are covered by the protection provided for in the Convention. In its reply, the government indicated that section 1(8) of the Labour Code specifies that “work is any human, intellectual, artistic or physical effort made by a person in return for remuneration”. Such a definition therefore encompasses all forms of work, whether the person works with an employer, or is self-employed.

Article 2, paragraph 3. Compulsory education.

The Committee previously observed that the gap between the age of school completion (age 15) and the minimum age for admission to work (age 16), might create a period of enforced idleness among youth. It had requested the Government to indicate whether it was envisaged to adopt legislation which would fix the age of completion of compulsory schooling at 16 years. In its reply the Government indicated that due to the nature of Qatari society, and the attention paid to ensuring the enforcement of legislation prohibiting children under the age of 16 from working, children who complete compulsory school by age 15 do not engage in work. Furthermore, the Government indicated that the inability for persons to begin work until the age of 16, one year after the completion of compulsory schooling, provides an incentive for children to complete their studies.

Article 6. Vocational training and apprenticeship. 

The Committee previously observed that although section 13 of the Labour Code stipulates that persons under the age of 18 require parental consent to engage in an apprenticeship, there does not appear to be a minimum age specified for admission to apprenticeships. Recalling that Article 6 of the Convention allows work done in apprenticeships only from the age of 14, the Committee requested the Government to indicate whether the national legislation contains provisions establishing a minimum age for admission to an apprenticeship contract. The Government has made clear to the Committee that section 86 of the Labour Code prohibits any young person who has not attained the age of 16 from engaging in work, and therefore training at workplaces is authorized only after reaching age 16 years.

Part V of the report form. Application of the Convention in practice. 

Following its previous comments, the Committee noted the Government’s statement that there is neither child labour nor labour of young persons in the State of Qatar.

Observation (CEACR) – adopted 2006, published 96th ILC session (2007) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) – Qatar (Ratification: 2000)

Article 3 of the Convention. Worst forms of child labour. Clause (a). Slavery and practices similar to slavery. Saleand trafficking of children for camel racing. 

The committee noted with satisfaction the steps taken by the Government of Qatar in order to combat camel racing. Under section 1 of Law No. 22 of 2005 on the importation, employment, training and participation of children in camel racing, a “child” is considered a person under 18 years of age. Section 2 stipulates that it is prohibited to import, employ, train or involve children in camel racing. The Committee noted the Government’s statement that besides enacting Law No. 22 of 2005, it also adopted, without delay, a set of practical and effective measures to ensure the effective application of ILO C182.

As the Committee stated there appears to be clear political will on the part of the Government to deal with and resolve the issue of trafficking of children for their use in camel racing. In this regard, the Committee highlighted measures taken on three fronts by the Government with a view to eradicating the problem of child traficking for camel racing: (i) legislative measures; (ii) practical measures; and (iii) rehabilitation measures.

Pursuant to the adoption of Law No. 22 of 2005, which prohibits the employment, training and use of children in camel races, the Government launched a number of sensitization measures aimed at creating awareness of this law. These measures include: recourse to the media; the strengthening of the labour inspection; and the organization of various meetings with the Camel Racing Federation. Moreover, unannounced labour inspections have been carried out to ensure that children are not used for this purpose. The Government also adopted a number of practical measures aimed at effectively ensuring that camel owners do not use children under 18 years for camel racing. In particular, the Government started in 2004 to buy robots from a Swiss company to replace camel jockeys. After some initial problems with such robots, local production of robots that responded more adequately to the needs of camel owners in Qatar commenced. This proved to be a huge success, since the robots manufactured were cheap and they were very light (much lighter than a child). The more recent robots manufactured weighed 3.7 kilograms. The production of robot jockeys was developed with the financial help of the Government, which also paid for the establishment of the robot factory, the Raqbi Centre, next to the camel racing track. Moreover, it made more economic sense for camel owners to use robots rather than children. In addition, the use of robots as camel jockeys has become so popular that even camel owners in other Gulf Council countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman are buying them.

Furthermore, the Government has adopted a number of rehabilitation measures aimed at assisting former child camel jockeys and providing them with medical treatment for poor health or injuries sustained before returning them to their country – most often Sudan. Furthermore, the Government, along with charitable organizations in Qatar, has provided assistance to these children through the establishment of free medical and educational facilities for them in Sudan.

Prior to the adoption of Law No.22 of May 2005 there were between 200 and 300 children from 6 to 13 years of age (all from Sudan) used in camel racing and exposed to serious injuries. Since the promulgation of Law No. 22 of 2005 there has been no recourse by camel owners to using children as camel jockeys.

Article 7, paragraph 1. Penalties.

Section 4 of Law No. 22 of 2005 on the prohibition of importing, employing, training and the participation of children in camel racing, carries penalties of imprisonment for a minimum of three years and a maximum of ten years, and the payment of a minimum fine of 50,000 rials and a maximum fine of 200,000 rials for anyone found violating this law. The labour inspectorate is responsible for supervising the law’s application and cooperating with the public prosecutor in order to ensure strict implementation and enforcement of this legislation.

According to the Deputy Minister of Civil Service, pursuant to the promulgation of Law No. 22 of 2005, the sanctions had proved to be sufficiently effective and dissuasive because children were no longer used for camel racing. Furthermore, in addition to the penalties provided by the law, camel owners stood to lose membership in the Camel Racing Federation if they were found to be violating the new law. The Deputy Minister of Justice also reported that he had no information on any violations of Law No. 22 of May 2005 since its entry into force.

Article 8. International cooperation. 

The Committee had previously asked the Government to provide information on any measures of cooperation passed between Qatar and countries of origin of child victims of trafficking. It notes the Government’s information that sections 407-443 of Book 5 of Criminal Procedures Act No. 23 of 2004 cover most of the various aspects of international judicial cooperation with foreign and international judicial bodies in the criminal field.

It also notes the information contained in the mission report that, pursuant to the adoption of Law No. 22 of 2005, all the children who had taken part in camel racing returned to Sudan with their families. The National Human Rights Committee had asked the Government to rehabilitate these children so as to ensure they were in better health before they went back to Sudan. In this regard, the Foreign Ministry along with civil society in Qatar were cooperating with the Sudanese Government in order to establish schools and medical centres for these children in Sudan.

Direct Request (CEACR) – adopted 2007, published 97th ILC session (2008) Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) – Qatar (Ratification: 2000)

Article 3 of the Convention. Worst forms of child labour. Clause (b). Use, procuring, or offering of a child for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances.

The Committee had previously requested the Government to indicate in what manner the use, procuring, or offering of a child under 18 years for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances is prohibited under legislation. In its reply, the Government noted that, by virtue of section 296 of the Penal Code, anyone who incites or lures in any manner a man or a woman to commit acts contrary to morals commits an offence. Moreover, according to section 297 of the Penal Code, anyone who produces, acquires, buys, imports or transfers publications, films, drawings or other objects contrary to decency or public morals for the purpose of exploitation, distribution or exposure, commits an offence and shall be punished by penalties of imprisonment and fines. The penalty is doubled if children under 16 years of age are involved.

Article 5. Monitoring mechanisms. Labour inspectorate.

The Committee had previously requested the Government to continue providing information on the results of inspections, specifying the extent and nature of violations detected concerning children and young persons involved in the worst forms of child labour. The Committee noted the Government’s statement that, after prohibiting the participation of children in camel racing, no cases of child labour were registered. In 2006, especially, the labour inspectorate undertook 5,000 inspections in enterprises and undertakings, during which no children were found to be employed.

The Committee also noted the Government’s statement that the Qatari Authority for Child and Woman Protection monitors the worst forms of child labour and receives information on any cases involving the exposure of children to bad treatment, neglect or violence. According to the Government, the Qatari Authority has indicated that no cases of the worst forms of child labour as stipulated under ILO C182 were registered. The Qatari Authority has also pointed out that it has raised awareness on the negative impact of children’s participation at an early age in the labour market through lectures at schools.

Article 7, paragraph 2. Effective and time-bound measures. Clause (b). Direct assistance for the removal of children from the worst forms of child labour and for their rehabilitation and social integration.

The Committee had previously noted that the Government took a number of measures to combat and rehabilitate the victims of human trafficking. It had requested the Government to specify the number of children withdrawn from trafficking and rehabilitated pursuant to the adoption of those measures. The Committee noted the Government’s statement that, according to the information provided by the Department for the Welfare of Young Persons, no child under 18 years of age was admitted to a social care centre.




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