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HomeQatar TimesQatar's FM renews apology over invasive searches at Hamad International Airport

Qatar’s FM renews apology over invasive searches at Hamad International Airport

Doha News learned in November that a security official responsible for ordering the invasive searches was charged a hefty fine and given a six-month prison sentence.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani renewed Doha’s apology to the Australian women subjected to a nonconsensual strip search at Hamad International Airport in 2020.

The incident occurred when a newborn baby girl was found abandoned in a restroom at a HIA terminal. Upon the discovery of the baby, thirteen Australian women amongst others were taken off a Qatar Airways flight.

The women were then subjected to a non-consensual invasive medical examination.

On Wednesday, Australian media outlets asked Qatar’s Foreign Minister about the incident during his participation in a session with Chatham House in London. Responding to whether the women should be compensated, Sheikh Mohammed said that the matter had been settled, as the Sydney Herald reported.

”As the government we are taking the full responsibility of this action, and we are penalising the people who were responsible for such a slip, which was a big mistake.”

Read also: Australian women to sue Qatar over HIA strip search incident

In November, seven women who were victims of the invasive search announced plans to sue Qatar. They claimed that the Gulf state had yet to provide them with a formal apology.

Despite the women’s claims, Qatar did release a public condemnation and an apology for the incident. The Gulf state’s communications office (GCO) also released a statement on 28 October, 2020, condemning the violation of the women’s rights.

“Regarding the legal case that they are pursuing, by the ladies, that is a legal challenge, I can’t comment, unfortunately,” said Sheikh Mohammed, as quoted by the Australian media outlet. He added that airport staff are undergoing training to ensure the incident never occurs again.

“It was a single incident that happened and nothing happened after that, and we are assuring the safety and security of women and men who are travelling through Qatar Airways.”

The Sydney Morning Herald said that the lawyer representing the women in NSW Supreme Court is claiming that training regimes have never been released publicly.

Last year, however, Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) organised a training course for leaders of HIA. The programme was titled “International Standards for Human Rights at Airports” and applies international human rights standards.

In addition to the lawsuit at the NSW Supreme Court, the women filed a complaint at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

In the separate claim, they stated that their rights were violated by Qatar Airways and asked the airline for an apology.

They also want to have a “constructive dialogue” over their claims for compensation and assurances that such incident would not occur again.

“The women continue to press their claims before the OECD and will shortly commence proceedings before the NSW courts,” Sturzaker said.

The incident

The newborn baby was found dumped in a trash can in one of the toilets in the departures terminal by her own mother. Investigations found that she then proceeded to board a flight.

Qatar’s Public Prosecution announced weeks later that the woman had sent a message and an image of the new-born to the child’s father. The message informed him that she had discarded the baby and was fleeing to her home country.

Sources had told Doha News last year that the baby remains at Qatar’s Orphans Care Center (Dreama), where authorities have ensure she is being taken care of.

Doha News also learned that one the security official responsible for ordering the invasive searches was charged a hefty fine and given a six-month prison sentence which he then appealed, but was upheld by the Qatari courts.

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