DOHA – Qatar insisted its laws prohibited human trafficking and said it was not aware of any such rights violations on Sunday after the Gulf state was criticized in a U.S. report.
“These claims are totally unexpected and are something we disagree with completely,” a senior Qatari official said.
“The laws of Qatar are strong and we have taken many steps to ensure equal rights for all. We are not aware of any human trafficking.”
The State Department downgraded regional allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in an annual report on Friday, making them subject to sanctions if they do not improve their records in three months.
Such sanctions have rarely been applied and would have little effect on the wealthy Gulf Arab oil producers.
The report said boys are trafficked to be used as camel jockeys in Qatar, while male and female domestic servants can fall victim to “involuntary servitude” through excessive work hours and the withholding of wages and passports.
Expatriates, mostly workers from Asian and Arab countries, make up more than 75 percent of Qatar’s population of 800,000…