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Amnesty: Migrant Labor Abuse Still Rampant in Qatar

FILE - A foreign worker climbs scaffolding at the Al-Wakra Stadium that is under construction for the 2022 World Cup in Doha, Qatar, May 4, 2015,

Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, has failed to improve conditions for migrant workers, according to an international rights group.

Following international pressure, Qatar had promised a year ago to improve migrant labor rights, including changing policies that prevent workers from leaving the country or changing employers.

In a report Thursday, Amnesty International said the reforms have not come fast enough, adding that little had changed for the 1.5 million migrant workers in Qatar.

"Without prompt action, the pledges Qatar made last year are at serious risk of being dismissed as a mere public relations stunt to ensure the Gulf state can cling on to the 2022 World Cup," Amnesty said.

Qatar's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs disagreed, saying in a statement "significant changes have been made" over the past year. In particular, it cited efforts to increase the number of labor inspectors, provide better housing for workers, and crack down on those violating labor laws.

"We are all dealing with the unique challenges brought about by rapid economic growth and the high population of expatriate workers seeking better opportunities," the ministry said.

Coca Cola, Visa, and Adidas, major World Cup sponsors, released statements Wednesday saying they were concerned about continued migrant labor abuses, although they did not threaten to drop their sponsorship.

FIFA, which holds a major conference later this month, welcomed the Amnesty International report.

"FIFA has repeatedly urged publicly and with the highest authorities in Qatar that fair working conditions for all workers in Qatar are imperative," the world football governing body said.

Material for this report came from AP, AFP, Reuters.