CAIRO: Two British employees of the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) have been detained in Qatar, Ayman Okeil, the head of Egyptian Maat organization, a local partner of GNRD, told The Cairo Post Friday.
Okeil said after the two’s whereabouts were unknown for four days, the British embassy in Qatar learned they have been detained in Doha, but he refused to give any further details until an official statement is released Saturday.
Human rights researchers Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev were believed by the GNRD to have been kidnapped by Qatari authorities after they were subjected to police harassment during their follow-up mission on migrants workers’ conditions in Qatar.
The GNRD management received a text message from Upadhyaya, who said he felt unsafe leaving the hotel premises to the airport, and told them there were a number of police in the vicinity.
Higher-ups in the organization advised the two researchers to immediately leave the Gulf state, GNRD stated Friday.
On its Facebook page Wednesday, the GNRD expressed its fears that its two employees might be “at risk of torture” in Qatar after it lost contact with them.
The Norway- based human rights organization was informed by the British Embassy in Qatar that Upadhyaya had checked out from his hotel but did not board his booked flight.
Both British researchers arrived in Qatar Aug. 27 on behalf of GNRD for a follow-up labor mission to investigate the state of Nepalese workers in Qatar, and were expected to leave the country Aug. 31, but did not make their flight.
In a Friday statement, GNRD said it “believes the [two researchers] were subjected to abduction and enforced disappearance at the hands of the Qatari authorities,” adding it was prepared to take legal action.
“It is really regrettable that Qatar, which is asignatory state to numerous international law conventions, especially on Enforced Disappearances, is carrying out such explicit violations of human rights,” GNRD stated.
Qatar has been subject to scrutiny since the oil-rich country won its bid to host the 2022 World Cup, from its soaring temperatures that would make play difficult to allegations of bribery.
With a population estimated at 280,000 citizens, Qatar depends on millions of migrant workers, and has imported a work force from India, Pakistan, the Philippines and other countries to carry out most of the work of the World Cup projects, according to Slate Magazine in May.
A March 2014 report by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) highlighting serious abuses of 1.4 million migrant workers in Qatar, said that 1,200 workers have died since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
As they continue to work under hard working conditions and extreme heat, the ITUC report added “4,000 workers could die before a ball is kicked in the 2022 world cup.”