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Qatar Airways accused of human rights abuses

“When Cesar Ferreira appealed his dismissal from Qatar Airways, he never imagined it would end in Doha’s rat infested abysmal third world jail”, explains Radha Stirling, founder of Due Process International.

Cesar made the journey to Qatar to work with the leading airline at Doha’s international airport. Although Cesar was popular with colleagues and management, he was unexpectedly dismissed. Seeing the decision as unfair, Cesar asked a few of his closest colleagues and managers to support his appeal which they did. It was this action alone that saw QA retaliate and report him as a criminal to the police for “breaching his contractual confidentiality”.

Cesar was jailed for two months for asking for his job back.

Following his release from prison, he has been prevented from leaving Qatar as a result of legal cases opened by the airline. He can not work but he can not leave. As a result, he has been in limbo without any money or resources and with no end in sight. The Portuguese Embassy have provided him with a room outside of the Embassy which is not suitable as a dog kennel. It’s unsanitary, inhumane and a risk to his health. He has been provided with only one meal a day and is constantly being threatened that they will decline to even provide that.

Cesar is a professional individual and was not homeless until QA made him so. The Portuguese Embassy has been unwilling to seek a diplomatic solution to his plight.

Qatar is seeking to promote itself as a tourism destination and with the upcoming world cup, the country should be mindful about attracting negative press and media criticism for human rights violations. Jailing someone for contesting an employment dismissal is astonishing. Cesar will never be the same again. What he has gone through is this most incredible stress and horrendous conditions over something that QA alleges is a trivial contract violation.

Ms Stirling issued a statement, “I strongly urge the Portuguese government to step in and proactively seek a resolution to this case. If the government fails to do so, Cesar will remain in these conditions in Qatar indefinitely. There is no “end date” to his detention because it is a travel ban, not a criminal case. Others who have been abandoned by their governments in these situations have died due to malnourishment, stress and a lack of medical attention. If Canada can solve a case for their citizen who had seventy-three criminal cases against him, then the Portuguese government can solve a trivial contractual breach.”

Stirling wrote to Qatar Airways to request they intervene and assist Cesar to leave the country. Their UK based law firm washed their hands of it, saying it was a police matter and effectively none of their business. “If this is the way Qatar Airways treats their staff, I urge pilots and crew to think twice about accepting positions there. Qatar protocols are completely backwards and out of line with international standards. It’s beyond disgraceful that an airline would jail staff for appealing a dismissal. We are consistently receiving disturbing accounts from airline staff and are gravely concerned for QA employees”.

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