DOHA: Determined to clamp down on illegal ‘free visa’ trade, the authorities recently imposed a deterring QR800,000 as fine on a man who was found ‘selling’ work visas.
The man, referred to by a senior Interior Ministry official as a ‘sponsor,’ was asked to pay the fine based on the number of visas that he had ‘sold.’
Colonel Nasser Mohamed Al Sayed, director of the Research and Follow-up Department of the Interior Ministry, said there are sponsors who bring in foreign hands and let them work with others or on their own and charge a monthly fee.
This is illegal and a form of human trafficking, Al Sayed said addressing a symposium entitled ‘Treat Your Employees Well’ here on Tuesday. The symposium was held by the Qatar Foundation for Combating Trafficking.
Then, there are those sponsors who charge 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, said the official.
Talking of ‘free visa’ trade, he said that the ‘rate’ of visas for some nationalities had soared to as much as QR60,000, a local Arabic daily reported yesterday.
The official said that last week a sponsor was fined QR800,000 after he was found to have ‘sold’ work visas for monetary gain.
Talking of the exploitation of housemaids, he said there have been some cases where a maid has been forced by sponsors to work for up to 17 hours a day.
One maid was asked to wash five cars twice a day without any extra remuneration.
In another case, a maid was not paid for months on end and when she demanded her dues, her sponsor decided to repatriate her. 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 was tortured by her employer and his sons.
After a thorough investigation, the sponsor of the maid and his sons were tried and the court eventually sentenced them,
Al Sayed said.
According to him, if it is proved that a sponsor has tortured or mistreated a maid, he can be fined from QR20,000 to QR50,000 and sentenced for three years. If the violation is repeated the penalty can reach up to QR100,000.
On runaway maids, Al Sayed said it has come to his department’s notice that some maids escape their sponsors hand-in- glove with manpower agencies.
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