Skip to Content

Qatar Airlines avoids Australian lawsuit over forced invasive examinations of women

By Jack Guy, CNN

(CNN) — Qatar Airways has avoided a lawsuit over an incident in which a number of female passengers were forced to undergo invasive medical examinations, after an Australian federal court dismissed the case Wednesday.

On October 2, 2020, 13 Australian women were transiting through Doha airport in Qatar on their way to Sydney when they were taken off their Qatar Airways plane by members of the Qatari security services and subjected to physical examinations in ambulances on the airport tarmac.

The search was triggered after airport authorities discovered a newborn baby abandoned in a bathroom at the airport.

The women were taken off the plane by “persons in dark uniforms,” which the Qatar Ministry of Interior (MOI) said was necessary to determine whether any of them was the mother of the baby, according to a court ruling seen by CNN.

Five of the women took legal action against the airline, the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA), and MATAR, a subsidiary of Qatar Airways that operates Doha airport, seeking damages for unlawful physical contact, false imprisonment and the mental health impacts of the incident.

The airline argued that the “persons in dark uniforms” were members of the Qatar Ministry of Interior (MOI) police force and therefore not its employees, and nor was the nurse in the ambulance.

And Justice John Halley of the Federal Court in Sydney, New South Wales ruled that the airline should not face trial over the incident.

“The proposition that Qatar Airways was able to exert any relevant control over the officers of the MOI conducting the police operation or the nurse in the ambulance can fairly be characterised as ‘fanciful, trifling, implausible, improbable, tenuous or one that is contradicted by all the available documents or other materials,’” he said in the ruling.

Halley also ruled that the women should pay the airline’s legal costs.

CNN has contacted Qatar Airways for comment.

However, the judge also ruled that the women could file a revised complaint against MATAR, the Qatar Airways subsidiary.

Damian Sturzaker, a lawyer representing the women with Sydney-based Marque Lawyers, told CNN in an email that his clients were “pleased” with the judge’s decision to allow claims against the airport operator to continue.

“The decision to allow QATAR Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority out of the proceedings is being carefully reviewed and if there is a proper basis an appeal will be quickly filed,” Sturzaker said in a statement.

“Our clients have demonstrated their resolve in standing up to the State of Qatar for some years and that resolve remains undiminished.”

Halley scheduled a case management hearing for May 10, the latest stage in a case that has become a diplomatic headache.

The examinations caused outrage in Australia and around the world, with the actions likened to sexual assault.

At the time, the then-Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, denounced the incident as “appalling” and “unacceptable.”

And the government of Qatar issued a statement in 2020 apologizing for “any distress or infringement on the personal freedom of any traveler” as a result of the incident.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Style

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content