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Qatar confirms detention of Britons investigating alleged labor abuse

Norway-based human rights group had suggested Qatari security services were behind disappearance of pair

Qatar has confirmed that it is holding two Britons who went missing while researching concerns over migrant labor conditions in the host nation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

In the first official comments made by the emirate in regards to the missing men, Qatar's Foreign Ministry said the pair were “being interrogated for having violated the provisions of the laws of the state of Qatar," the Qatar News Agency reported.

The announcement follows calls on Qatar from rights groups including Amnesty International to reveal the whereabouts and ensure the safety of the two men, named as Krishna Upadhyaya and Ghimire Gundev.

Researcher Upadhyaya, 52, and Photographer Gundev, 36, work for the Norway-based Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD).

Both went missing on Aug. 31 as they were preparing to leave Qatar. GNRDhad suggested that Qatari security services were behind their disappearance and has called for both men’s release.

On Sunday, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said that all actions taken against the men are “consistent with the principles of human rights” outlined in the laws of Qatar, and that British Embassy officials have visited them to check on their situation.

An official at the British Embassy in Doha has confirmed that the mission is providing consular assistance to the men but was unable to provide further details.

The U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office did not immediately respond to an interview request from Al Jazeera.

GNRD is based in Stavanger, Norway and describes itself on its website as a neutral organization set up in 2008 to promote human rights and development.

The organization has singled out Qatar in the past over conditions faced by migrant workers. Like its Gulf Arab neighbors, Qatar relies on vast numbers of mainly Asian low-paid migrant workers to make up part of its workforce.

The treatment of migrant workers in Qatar has come under greater scrutiny since it won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, with labor rights activists raising concerns about dangerous working conditions, allegations of unpaid salaries and other abuses.

"It is really regrettable that Qatar, which is signatory state to numerous international law conventions, especially on enforced disappearances, is carrying out such explicit violations of human rights," GNRD said last week, in regards to the then-missing staff members.

The Gulf state last year opened an investigation into allegations that migrant laborers were mistreated, with the Qatari body responsible for managing the World Cup preparations saying it was “appalled” at reports of “slave-like” conditions.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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