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Qatar apologizes for strip-searching women at airport

Simone Foxman
Bloomberg

The government of Qatar apologized for its treatment of women at Hamad International Airport earlier this month after invasive searches of Australians prompted a public uproar and recriminations from the country’s politicians.

“His Excellency the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior expressed the Government of the State of Qatar’s sincerest apology for what some female travelers went through as a result of the measures,” the Government Communications Office said in a statement Friday.

This image made from the Oct. 2, 2020, surveillance camera footage obtained by the website Doha News shows officials care for an abandoned baby at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar.

A preliminary investigation of the incident found standard procedures were violated in the search related to discovery of a newborn baby abandoned at the airport. “Those responsible for these violations and illegal actions have been referred to the Public Prosecution Office,” according to the statement.

For more on incident: Qatar Airways Faces Strike Over Examination of Australians

Australia’s government welcomed the apology and called the referral to prosecutors “an important step.”

“Australian passengers will be reassured that Qatar has established a specialized task force to review procedures and protocols to ensure there is never a repeat of this incident,” it said.

The Australian government had said earlier this week that women on 10 planes traveling through the airport were subject to invasive, naked inspections after a newborn was found in a garbage bag in a toilet in the airport on Oct. 2. Eighteen travelers on their way to Australia were among the women examined.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had told reporters that the search methods used were unacceptable but indicated he would wait for the results of an investigation by Qatari authorities before deciding what action to take. The Transport Workers’ Union in the Australian state of New South Wales had indicated it was considering refusing to service, clean or refuel Qatar Airways jets in Sydney.