'Slave labour' by North Koreans in Qatar means the World Cup host is sustaining Kim Kong-un's isolated regime
'Slave labour' by North Koreans in Qatar means the World Cup host is sustaining Kim Kong-un's isolated regime Getty

Qatar has been heavily condemned over evidence the 2022 World Cup host is paying the dictatorial regime of North Korea for "slave labour."

Wages earned by labourers from North Korea are reportedly funnelled away to Pyongyang from Qatar, according to testimony by workers in the Guardian.

An unknown number of North Koreans in the Emirati sand kingdom see next to no pay for their work as a result, it was claimed.

Anti-Slavery International (ASI) has strongly condemned a link between Qatar and North Korea. Director Aidan McQuade told IBTimes UK: "Qatar is directly contributing to sustaining the North Korean dictatorship."

North Korea is subject to a swathe of foreign sanctions hitting its ability to do business internationally. Relations between dictator Kim Jong-un's regime and the outside world are poor because of its nuclear weapons programme and allegations of systematic human right abuses.

Testimony by workers from the state in Qatar suggests their pay goes straight to Pyongyang and not in to their pockets.

One labourer said: "We are here to earn foreign currency for our nation." Another North Korean in Qatar claimed his pay was dealt with a recruitment company of the regime. "People like us don't usually get paid. The money does not come to the person directly."

Kim Jong Un is said to have combined North Korea's  prison camps after the death of his father in 2011 (Reuters)
The attraction of foreign currency is strong for Kim Jong-un, above Reuters

Such conditions add up to slave labour, said McQuade. "The reported conditions under which North Korean migrant workers labour in Qatar amount to modern day slavery," he said.

"If one is compelled into working excessive hours in soaring heat, not paid the wages and have no control over their situation then these are clear signs of forced labour.

"Qatar is directly contributing to sustaining the North Korean dictatorship. It is doing this by evidently collaborating with them in the systematic exploitation of trafficked North Korean citizens, who are required to work for three years in Qatar while the Pyongyang regime confiscates most of their wages."

Outcry greeted news that up to 65,000 North Koreans may be working for next to no pay on infrastructure projects in the Arab country, which is set to hold the 2022 Fifa competition.

Dictator Jong-un needs foreign currency for North Korea's troubled economy: it promises to provide some financial stability at home and boosts the regime's purchasing power abroad.

Reports about conditions for North Koreans in Qatar chime with other allegations of slave labour-like conditions endured by other nationalities. The difference with North Koreans is they apparently are working directly for Kim Jong-un's regime, instead of themselves.

For this reason, it is not clear whether North Koreans work under Qatar's controversial Kafala sponsorship system – whereby the employer assumes over-arching responsibility for employees, who are stripped of practically all rights and risk becoming illegal migrants if they seek to escape it.

IBTimes UK contacted the Qatari embassy in London, but got no reply.