On Friday, Qatar announced that those responsible for forcing female travelers to undergo female examinations at Doha Airport were referred to the Public Prosecution Office on the background of these “transgressions.”
Women on 10 departing flights from Doha underwent tests as part of the authorities’ search for the mother of a newborn baby who was found in an airport washroom on October 2.
The government stated that “the incident and those responsible for these violations and illegal actions have been referred to the competent Public Prosecution, according to the established procedures.”
She added that the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani “expressed the deep regret and apology of the government of the State of Qatar for the painful experience that some female travelers had suffered as a result of these measures,” according to the statement.
The accident caused diplomatic tensions with three friendly countries, Australia, Britain and New Zealand, and then intensified later after the Qatari authorities refused to apologize, prompting angry reactions on social media against the airline, which is one of the most prominent companies in the rich emirate.
New Zealand announced late Thursday that one of its citizens was among the women who had been tested, describing the procedures as “totally unacceptable.”
“We learned with great concern (…) that a New Zealand citizen is related to the horrific accident that women were traveling through on several Qatar Airways flights,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, describing the matter as “totally unacceptable.”
The spotlight was on the incident again this week after Australian female passengers who had been screened spoke about the case.
Australia has revealed so far that 13 of its citizens have undergone “horrific” checks, while Britain indicated that it is providing support to two women over the incident. AFP also learned that a French woman was among the women who underwent the test.
Qatar said that the still alive newborn girl was placed in a plastic bag and thrown to death in a trash can in a bathroom, which according to sources led to the closure of Hamad International Airport.
– “Very sorry” –
The women were taken from the plane to ambulances parked on the runway, where they underwent checks to see if they had recently given birth.
Wolfgang Babeck, who was on a plane bound for Sydney in connection with the case, said the women who were examined were “very shocked” after their ordeal.
Qatar is a conservative Islamic emirate that punishes imprisonment for illegal relationships and births outside marriage.
Ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the emirate made efforts to reassure its critics that the promises it made on women’s rights, labor laws and democracy were credible.
In the face of potential commercial and reputational damage, Qatar has repeated pledges to ensure the “safety and security” of passengers in the future.
Australian criticism of Qatar has escalated increasingly in the absence of a clear apology from Doha in the days following the scandal.
Canberra described the impending investigation as “an important step”.
Australian Foreign Minister Maryse Payne said, “The statement of the Qatar government is in line with our expectations to show deep regret, accountability and determination to avoid any repetition of what happened.”
On Friday, Qatar said the task forces were looking for “potential flaws in procedures” at the airport.
The Qatari statement added, “This accident is the first of its kind at Hamad International Airport, which served tens of millions of passengers without any such problems before.”
He stressed that “what happened completely contradicts the culture and values of Qatar.”
In a statement, the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani expressed the State of Qatar’s deep regret and apology for what some female travelers were subjected to at Hamad International Airport.
© 2020 AFP