Qatar authorities identify mother who dumped her baby in airport scandal

WION Web Team
Doha, Qatar Updated: Nov 23, 2020, 11:02 PM(IST)

Representative image. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Women on 10 Qatar Airways flights out of Doha were subject to the examinations as authorities searched for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned in an airport bathroom on October 2

Qatar said Monday it had identified the mother of a baby dumped at its airport, an incident that prompted officials to order departing female passengers to undergo invasive examinations, sparking global outrage.

Qatar's public prosecutor said in a statement "Investigations revealed that the infant's mother... threw the newborn infant in the trash can in one of the toilets in the departures lounge at the airport and boarded the plane to her destination."

Qatar's public prosecutor has filed criminal charges against an unspecified number of police officers working at Qatar's Hamad airport after women said they were invasively searched there last month.

Women on 10 Qatar Airways flights out of Doha were subject to the examinations as authorities searched for the mother of a newborn baby found abandoned in an airport bathroom on October 2.

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the searches were appalling and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani has apologised.

Judicial police officers working in the Airport Security Department broke the law when they summoned female medical staff to conduct the searches, the public prosecutor said in a statement on Monday

The police officers acted unilaterally and face "penalties of a maximum of three years," it said.

The public prosecutor did not say what crimes had been committed, how many police officers had been charged or detail the penalties they faced, such as imprisonment, if convicted.

The public prosecutor said it had also charged the child's mother, who has left the country, with attempted murder and that it had launched legal proceedings to arrest her.

The mother, identified as of "Asian nationality", faces a maximum penalty of 15 years if convicted, the statement said.

It also said a male defendant had been identified as the father of the child after a DNA test, without saying how they were able to initially locate him.

The mother of the abandoned child had messaged the father telling him she had just given birth and that she was abandoning the child and leaving the country, the prosecutor said.

The incident has caused diplomatic tensions with three friendly nations, Australia, Britain, and New Zealand, which intensified when authorities initially declined to apologise, leading to an online backlash against the airline, one of the wealthy Gulf nation's prestige projects.

New Zealand was the latest to raise concerns, saying late Thursday that one of its citizens was among the women subjected to the invasive examinations.

"We were extremely concerned to learn... that a New Zealand national was involved in the appalling incident involving female passengers on several Qatar Airways flights," its foreign ministry said in a statement.

It labeled the action "completely unacceptable".

The incident only came to light this week after affected Australian passengers spoke out.

Qatar is an ultra-conservative Muslim monarchy, where sex and childbirth outside of marriage are punishable by jail.

Ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, it has struggled to reassure critics that its promises on women's rights, labour relations and democracy are credible.

Facing potentially devastating commercial and reputational damage, Qatar has repeatedly vowed to guarantee the future "safety and security" of passengers.

Australia's criticism of Qatar had grown increasingly strident in the absence of an unequivocal apology from Doha in the days after the scandal emerged.

Qatar said on Friday that taskforces were looking at "potential gaps in the procedures and protocols" at the airport.

"This incident is the first of its kind at Hamad International Airport, which has served tens of millions of passengers without any issues like this before," the Qatari statement said.

"What took place is wholly inconsistent with Qatar's culture and values."

Qatar's assistant foreign minister Lolwah al-Khater, one of the few female ministers in the Gulf region, tweeted Qatar's apologies "for the disturbing experience".

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