Qatar authorities identifies parents of dumped baby, airport officers charged over invasive searches

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Authorities in Qatar have identified the parents who dumped a baby girl in a rubbish bin in an airport toilet last month.

The public prosecutor said the mother and father were from ‘Asian countries’ which in Qatar typically refers to the nations of South Asia where a large number of migrant workers come from.

Efforts were under way “to arrest the fugitive” who is overseas and faces 15 years imprisonment, the prosecutor said in a statement that called her a “convict”, suggesting she may have been convicted in absentia.

The incident prompted Qatari airport officials to order departing female passengers to undergo invasive examinations, sparking global outrage.

Women on 10 Qatar Airways flights out of Doha, including one to Sydney, were subjected to the examinations following the incident on October 2, leading to a diplomatic row with Australia.

The incident only came to light weeks after it occurred, when affected Australian passengers spoke out, with Canberra labelling the episode “appalling”.

Two Doha-based sources have told AFP that Qatari authorities had requested an Interpol red notice in order to have the woman identified as the mother brought to Doha to face charges.

“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,” the prosecutor said.

“(The mother) had a relationship with another person of the nationality of one of the Asian countries as well, and this relationship resulted in the infant that was found.

“The father of the infant admitted that he had a relationship with the infant’s mother, and that she had sent him a message and a photo of the newborn infant immediately after her birth.”

The mother had told the father that she had dumped the baby and departed the country, the statement added, while DNA screening proved they were the child’s parents.

All expatriates coming to Qatar for long-term work are required to give a substantial sample of blood during the registration process.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s public prosecutor has filed criminal charges against an unspecified number of police officers working at the airport.

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”, the prosecutor said although they 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.

Diplomats have suggested that such a major operation requiring the suspension of flight operations at the authoritarian state’s airport could not have been authorised by a handful of junior staff.

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani, who as interior minister is also responsible for the security services, previously tweeted that “we regret the unacceptable treatment of the female passengers” at Doha airport.

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. (Source: CNA)

 

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