Wednesday 25 November 2020

Qatar airport police face possible jail for strip searches of female passengers

Prosecutors in Qatar say the airport police officers who ordered forced internal medical examinations of female passengers after an abandoned newborn was discovered in a rubbish bin face possible three-year prison sentences. Prosecutors did not say how many police officers at Hamad International Airport faced charges over the October 2 incident that sparked widespread anger in Australia, a key destination for the state-owned Qatar Airways. “Extensive investigations revealed that some employees of the Airport Security Department acted unilaterally by summoning female medical staff to conduct external examination to some female passengers, thinking that what they had done was within the law,” a statement from prosecutors said. Meanwhile, overseas media have reported that authorities have identified the mother of the baby girl, who was found in an airport rubbish bin, and charged her with attempted murder. Qatar public prosecutions reportedly released a statement saying: “Investigations revealed that the infant’s mother… threw the newborn infant in the trash can in one of the toilets in the departures lounge at the airport and boarded the plane to her destination.” The abandoned newborn’s mother, whom the statement described as a “convict”, also faces up to 15 years in prison if apprehended. The woman apparently flew out of the country before the baby was discovered. Qatari authorities say they have started the process of trying to arrest her. Prosecutors said DNA helped them identify her and the baby's father. The physical examinations of passengers bound for Sydney and nine other unnamed destinations triggered outrage here in Australia. Eighteen women, including 13 Australians, on a Qatar flight from Doha to Sydney on the 2nd of October were subjected to what was described as “grossly disturbing” physical examinations after the baby was found. At the time, our Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as a father of two daughters he “could only shudder at the thought that anyone would, Australian or otherwise, it would be subjected to that”.

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