Qatar aviation bodies 'to be sued over 2020 invasive search'
A group of seven Australia-based women plan to sue Qatar's aviation bodies, including the Civil Aviation Authority for being forced to undergo invasive gynaecological examinations at Doha's international airport after an abandoned newborn was found in a trash can there last year, their lawyer told AFP news agency on Monday.
Qatar at the time issued a formal apology and took legal action against airport officials involved in the search. At least one official has been fined and handed a six-month sentence for enforcing the search.
According to local website Doha News citing unnamed sources, the baby whose parents' identity has not been disclosed remains at Qatar’s Orphans Care Center [Dreama], at the request of the Qatari authorities.
The women were subjected to the examinations at Hamad International Airport on October 2, 2020, after Qatar Airways Flight 908 to Sydney was delayed. The seven were among 13 women on the flight who were "invasively examined" on the tarmac, said their lawyer Damian Sturzaker, from Sydney-based Marque Lawyers.
Sturzaker said he was not aware of passengers on other flights taking legal action over the episode.
The women have not specified the amount of compensation that they are seeking.
The Qatar government, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, as well as the state-owned airline and airport, have been forwarded legal advice that Australian courts had jurisdiction to hear the case and that the claimants were likely to win, Sturzaker said. The airline has denied liability while the Qatar government said it was considering the women’s claim, Sturzaker added.
When approached for comment, Hamad International Airport's media relations referred The New Arab to previous official statements on the case. The Qatar government declined to comment to AFP but pointed to its previous statements on the incident in which it offered its "sincerest apology" and said that "those responsible for these violations and illegal actions" had been referred to prosecutors.
Qatar, a small, energy-rich state on the Arabian Peninsula, will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.