Qatar government to investigate body search claims after premature baby found abandoned at Doha airport

Qatar government to investigate body search claims after premature baby found abandoned at Doha airport
Over a dozen female passengers were allegedly examined for signs of childbirth, after a newborn baby was found abandoned at Doha airport on 2 October.
2 min read
26 October, 2020
A newborn was found at the airport, leading to a search for the mother [Getty]
Qatar will investigate reports that a number of female passengers leaving the country were subjected to "invasive" body searches by airport officials, earlier this month, after a premature newborn was found abandoned in a bathroom at Hamad International Airport.

Qatar Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani ordered a "comprehensive, transparent investigation" into the alleged incident at the Doha airport, the government said on Wednesday in a statement.

The statement added that the baby was found abandoned in an airport rubbish bin in what appeared to be a "shocking and appalling attempt to kill her".

"This egregious and life-threatening violation of the law triggered an immediate search for the parents, including on flights in the vicinity of where the newborn was found," the statement read.

"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 traveler caused by this action."

The investigation follows complaints from a group of women - including 13 from Australia - who said they were removed from their flight on 2 October and subject to a "full body search", allegedly examining for signs of childbirth.

In an official statement late on Sunday, Hamad International Airport responded to the reports, saying that a newborn baby was found at the airport and a search for the mother was launched.

"Medical professionals expressed concern to officials about the health and welfare of a mother who had just given birth and requested she be located prior to departing," the statement said.

"Individuals who had access to the specific area of the airport where the newborn infant was found were asked to assist in the query."

Australia's government on Monday said concerns had been lodged to the Qatari government over the alleged incident.

"This is a grossly, grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events. It is not something that I have ever heard of occurring in my life," Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

When asked by reporters if that constituted sexual assault, Payne said: "No, I am not suggesting that, because I have not seen the detailed report of the events."

A report from the Qatari authorities about the incident is "imminent" according to Payne, who admitted Australian officials were made aware of the situation by passengers "at the time of the flight".

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