► What happened?
On October 2, female passengers on flights departing from Qatar were subjected to forced body examinations after a premature newborn was found in a toilet at Doha International Airport. Mostly Australian, the women were taken off several planes and taken to ambulances to determine if they had recently given birth.
The federal government is considering taking action against Qatar after 7NEWS revealed Australian women were invasively searched at Doha Airport. The foreign affairs minister described the incident as ‘grossly disturbing’, waiting for a report before the next step. @ riley7news pic.twitter.com/s7iiRJl4QI
– 7NEWS Sydney (@ 7NewsSydney) October 26, 2020
The facts, reported by Australian television Seven News, were revealed by Australian passengers. Separately, a source in Doha with knowledge of an internal investigation said on Sunday (October 25th) that officials “Had forced the women to undergo (…) mainly Papanicolaou tests (smears, Editor’s note) “. Australian lawyer from Sydney, Wolfgang Babeck, a passenger on one of the affected flights, said the women undergoing the exams returned to their plane “In a state of shock”.
→ READ. New complaint against Vinci for “forced labor” in Qatar
As a result of the incident, one of the affected flights, Qatar Airways’ QR908 to Sydney, was four hours late, according to monitoring site Flight Radar 24. Women from other countries and others flights, including a French passenger, underwent similar examinations. An investigation is underway in Qatar, according to Seven News.
► Australia’s reactions
Foreign Minister Marise Payne expressed Australia’s disapproval on Monday (October 26th). “This is an extremely, extremely disturbing, shocking, worrying series of events”, she said. “Never in my whole life have I heard of such a thing”.
“We have expressed our concerns very clearly to the Qatari authorities”, she continued, adding that the Australian Federal Police had been seized of the case. According to the minister, the publication of a report by the Qatari authorities on this incident is “Imminent”.
► The response from Doha International Airport
Doha Airport reported that “Medical staff had expressed concerns to airport officials about the health and well-being of a mother who had just given birth and asked to locate her before she left”.
“Individuals who had access to the area of the airport where the newborn was found were invited to participate in the search”, added the airport authorities, without specifying what had been asked of the women questioned, nor their number. Doha Airport called on Sunday for the baby’s mother to come forward. “The newborn remains unidentified, but it is in good health in the hands of medical and social personnel”, the airport said, calling on anyone with information about the mother to disclose it. Asked, the company Qatar Airways did not comment.