Blinken will travel to Qatar for the World Cup under the shadow of human rights criticism | Tech US News

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Qatar next week to attend the World Cup starting in Doha, while also starting a bilateral dialogue with Qatari officials.

Blinken is the first official the Biden administration has announced it will send to the soccer tournament, which is being held in the shadow of controversy and criticism over human rights, although Qatar is being praised for efforts to address such concerns.

“The Secretary will be cheering on the United States men’s national team in their first World Cup game, as the United States takes on Wales,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Blinken, who will arrive in Qatar on Monday, will also launch the US-Qatar Strategic Dialogue and recognize “Qatar’s important contribution to international sports diplomacy as it hosts the World Cup,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a communicated

The secretary will meet with senior Qatari officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

The talks will cover “a range of priorities, including global health, humanitarian assistance, international development, labor and human rights, security cooperation, climate change and trade and investment,” Price said.

Qatar is a strategic partner of the US. The U.S. hosts a large number of U.S. troops in the region at Al-Udeid Air Base, which is home to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Air Force Central Command.

Qatar has also been a key partner in helping transport tens of thousands of Afghans and other nationals evacuated from Afghanistan following the US withdrawal in August 2021.

But Qatar has come under scrutiny for its treatment of migrant workers, particularly in relation to their employment to build World Cup-related infrastructure. Doha has been praised for implementing reforms, although human rights groups say they are falling short.

“It’s absolutely true that Qatar has made some promising reforms in recent years. However, the problem is that all of these reforms have essentially been too little, too late, and have big loopholes that don’t address serious abuses, and that’s the kind of big problem that we have,” Michael Page, Deputy Director of Media. Human Rights Watch’s East and North Africa Division told The Hill in an interview earlier this month.

In particular, Human Rights Watch joins migrant workers and their families in demanding compensation from FIFA and Qatari authorities for “abuses, including unexplained deaths, suffered by workers preparing” for the tournament, the group said in a statement press this Thursday.

Page added that Human Rights Watch has also expressed concern about Qatar’s criminalization of same-sex relationships and that same-sex couples attending the World Cup may be at risk of arrest and detention.

“Even HRW has recently documented that LGBT people have been arrested and mistreated in detention centers in Qatar, that’s a worrying sign of what could happen at this World Cup,” he said.

In October, Australian football players released a video defending the rights of migrant workers and against Qatari laws criminalizing homosexuality and same-sex relationships.

The Australian team acknowledged reforms in Qatar to improve working conditions but said their “implementation remains inconsistent and requires improvement” and called for the “decriminalization of all same-sex relationships”.

There is also scrutiny over how Qatar won the contract to host the 2022 World Cup. In October 2021, the Justice Department released an indictment against representatives working for Russia and Qatar alleging that they bribed FIFA officials to secure the hosting rights to the men’s soccer World Cup, as part of a long-running DOJ investigation into corruption in international soccer. .



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