Seven women subjected to nonconsensual invasive searches at Qatar’s airport last year are planning to sue authorities over the incident.
Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee [NHRC] organised a training course for leaders of the Hamad International Airport [HIA] on Monday titled “International Standards for Human Rights at Airports”.
The first of its kind course took place as part of the activities of the Qatar Human Rights Day with the aim to promote and protect human rights and freedoms. It focused on international human rights standards that must be applied at airports during its daily operations.
The course also took place as seven women subjected to nonconsensual invasive searches at HIA last year said they are planning to sue Qatari authorities over the incident after reportedly not receiving a formal apology or compensation.
The women’s lawyer Damian Sturzaker of the Sydney-based firm Marque Lawyers, said on Monday that they are pursuing legal action to “send a message to Qatari authorities that you can’t treat women… in this manner”.
“The group of women have suffered enormous distress on the evening concerned, now just over a year ago, and they continue to suffer distress and ill effects and trauma as a result of what occurred,” he told AFP.
The lawyer said that the lawsuit would be filed in Australia against the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, HIA, Qatar Airways and the government within weeks.
Despite the women claiming to have yet to receive an apology from the Gulf state, authorities from Qatar did release a public condemnation and an apology for the incident.
Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also condemned the incident last year while apologising for the violation of the women passengers’ rights.
Doha News also learned that one the security official responsible for ordering the invasive searches was charged a hefty fine and given a six-month prison sentence which he then appealed, but was upheld by the Qatari courts.
The women also said they have been ignored by the Australian government following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments on the case on Friday.
“That was an awful experience for these women … There was an investigation, there has been a conviction, and there’s been a significant change to airport processes in Qatar,” he said.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, the women claimed that Qatar Airways’ lawyers did not respond to their attempts to hold dialogue with the airline and told the case has “no merit”.
“Your request that Qatar Airways engages in dialogue and/or mediation regarding the matters raised in the letter is respectfully declined on the basis that a claim against Qatar Airways has no merit,” read a written response from the airline on 1 November.
Thirteen Australian women, among others, were taken off a Qatar Airways flight in October last year and subjected to a thorough medical examination after an abandoned baby girl was found in a restroom at HIA.
Investigations revealed that the mother, while leaving Doha, gave birth and dumped the baby in a trash can in one of the toilets in the departures terminal. She then proceeded to board a flight.
Qatar’s Public Prosecution said the woman had sent a message and an image of the new-born to the child’s father, who has since admitted to their relationship. The message informed him that she had discarded the baby and was fleeing to her home country.
Sources had told Doha News that the baby remains at Qatar’s Orphans Care Center [Dreama], where authorities have ensure she is taken care of.