Australia says girls on 10 flights subjected to Qatar physique search | Australia
Foreign Secretary Marise Payne says other countries share Australia’s concerns as Qatar opens investigations.
Female passengers on 10 planes departing Doha had to undergo invasive physical exams after a newborn was found abandoned in an airport toilet, the Australian Foreign Secretary said Wednesday’s investigation into the incident.
Foreign Secretary Marise Payne reported in a hearing in the Australian Senate that women on “a total of 10 planes” had been subjected to searches which she described as “grossly disruptive” and “offensive”.
“We learned that yesterday through advice from our post in Doha,” she said.
Payne added that other countries also have concerns about the October 2 incident.
The New South Wales Transport Workers’ Union, whose members operate Qatar Airways planes at Sydney Airport, said Tuesday it was considering industrial action against the airline over “the brutal assault on the human rights of Australian women passengers.”
It was revealed on Sunday that women were removed from a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney in Doha on October 2 and forced to undergo invasive inspections after a newborn baby was found abandoned in an airport toilet.
Payne said 18 Australian women on the October 2 flight to Sydney were affected, along with “other foreigners”. The AFP news agency reported that a French woman was among them on the flight.
Payne has not detailed the destinations of the other flights.
The women said they were taken off the plane and patrolled in an ambulance parked on the tarmac.
Investigation is ongoing
Qatar’s prime minister has ordered an investigation into the incident, the government communications bureau told Reuters in a statement on Tuesday.
The newborn, a little girl, was found in a plastic bag in a trash can in “what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her.” The action is a “tremendous and life-threatening violation of” the law “.
Hamad International Airport in Doha is a transit hub for global flights [File: Deepa Babington/Reuters]Payne said Australia had registered “serious concerns” about the treatment of women.
“Other affected countries absolutely share Australia’s views and the strength of Australia’s views,” said Frances Adamson, secretary for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. “This is not normal behavior and the Qataris recognize it and are appalled by it, do not want it to happen again.”
The incident was brought to Australia’s attention by an Australian diplomat who was on the flight and “was shocked by what happened,” said Adamson. The diplomat was not searched.
“The Qatar investigation aims to determine what laws may have been violated, who are responsible for it, and recommend disciplinary and law enforcement measures if necessary,” a source familiar with the investigation told Reuters.
Hamad International Airport in Doha previously confirmed a comprehensive overview of the events without giving any details about the procedures or the number of women and flights involved.
On Sunday, a call was made to the child’s mother to come forward. The baby is still not identified, but “safe under the professional care of doctors and social workers”.