Australia says female passengers on 10 flights from Qatar invasively examined

WION Web Team Sydney, Australia Oct 28, 2020, 07.31 AM(IST) Oct 28, 2020, 07.54 AM(IST)

Representative image. Photograph:( AFP )

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Earlier, several women were asked to deboard the flight and were strip-searched by the authorities of Qatar Airways onboard a flight from Doha to Sydney after a newborn baby had been found abandoned in a trash can and was wrapped in a plastic bag

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Wednesday that 10 female passengers flying out of Doha were forced to endure invasive physical examinations.

Earlier, the government of Qatar said it “regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedom of any traveller” after several women were asked to deboard the flight and were strip-searched by the authorities of Qatar Airways onboard a flight from Doha to Sydney after a newborn baby had been found abandoned in a trash can and was wrapped in a plastic bag.

Also read: Several women strip-searched by Qatar Airways authorities after infant found dead

"While the aim of the urgently-decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the State of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveller caused by this action," the statement.

Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, had ordered an investigation and the results would be shared with international partners, it added.

However, the statement did not specifically detail that women had been forcibly examined, only referring to a "search for the parents".

Payne told parliament that women on "10 aircraft in total" had been subject to the searches, which she had earlier described as "grossly disturbing" and "offensive".

Payne said 18 women, including 13 Australians, on the October 2 flight to Sydney were affected, along with "other foreign nationals". 

She did not detail the destinations of the other flights, adding she was unaware if any Australian women were on those planes.

Frances Adamson, head of Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said there was "distress, abhorrence and deep questioning of how this can have happened".

Officials said Australia was also working "very closely" with other countries to jointly raise concerns with Doha but refused to name those countries, citing privacy concerns of women on the Sydney-bound flight.

"There is a very strong, likeminded view about this -- other countries affected absolutely share Australia's views and the strength of Australia's views," Adamson told the Senate hearing.

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