Qatari officials who ordered Australian female passengers to undergo “grossly inappropriate” medical examinations at Doha Airport will face charges.
Numerous women, including 13 Australians, were rounded up and subjected to “invasive” examinations in Doha’s Hamad International Airport on October 2nd.
The searches, which targeted women on 10 planes, were triggered after a premature newborn was found dumped in a terminal toilet rubbish bin. The baby survived the ordeal.
Foreign Minster Marise Payne was provided with a progress update by Qatar on Monday, and said Australia expects “just and proportionate accountability” for those responsible.
“The Australian Government has made clear to the Government of Qatar that the treatment of the female airline passengers, and the examinations to which they were subjected, were grossly inappropriate and offensive,” she said.
“The Australian Government has also made clear to the Government of Qatar that, once investigations are complete, we expect a comprehensive and transparent report on the incident, and on the measures taken to ensure it is never repeated.”
Officials who ordered the searches have been referred for prosecution, Doha said, and could face a three-year jail term.
“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,” Qatari prosecutors allege.
Ms Payne said the prosecutions were a matter for the Qatari government, but “Australia expects and has been seeking regular updates on the progress of the investigations and legal proceedings.”
Accountability for the offences appeared to rest with airport officials, not the airline, she said.
Prosecutors also claim to have identified the mother of the abandoned baby as a “Asian national” and “convict”, who fled the country after dumping the child.
She has been charged with attempted murder and efforts are underway to extradite her.
Police say they have also identified the baby’s father. He was allegedly texted by the mother, informing him she intended to abandon the child.
Qatari officials confirmed he has been charged but did not make the details publicly available.
Pre-marital sex and childbirth outside of wedlock are criminalised in Qatar.