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Publication Date


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LSE Middle East Centre


Sociology & Anthropology


In 2012, the Open Society Institute’s International Migration Initiative launched a study to examine migrants‘ access to justice in Qatar. This study was led by researchers Andrew Gardner (University of Puget Sound), Silvia Pessoa (Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar), and Laura Harkness. The study was built on the foundation of a the research team’s large, three-year research project funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF). That project administered Qatar’s first large-scale survey devoted solely to exploring the migration experience. Of the 1189 migrants surveyed for that project, the research team was able to identify those individuals who had reported some interaction with Qatar’s justice system during their time on the peninsula. For the Open Society Institute project, entitled Labor Migrants and Access to Justice in Contemporary Qatar, the research team began by arranging follow-up interviews with those labor migrants who had reported interaction with the justice system in the survey. The pool of interviewees was further expanded to include domestic workers (or “housemaids”), as well as a variety of experts, legal consultants, and community leaders with an understanding of the processes and challenges labor migrants face in Qatar justice system. The research team’s goal was threefold: to provide an overview of the aspects of Qatar’s migration system that produce injustices and a summary of the problems that typically arise in migrants’ labor relations; to collate the experiences of migrants in the state-sponsored system designed to evaluate and adjudicate migrant grievances; and building upon the experiences and challenges faced by transnational laborers immersed in that justice system, to propose a set of policy recommendations that might incrementally improve labor migrants’ access to justice in Qatar. This report describes the research team's findings.