Qatar’s government is finally starting to apologize for an incident that recently unfolded at Doha Hamad International Airport.
The terrible things that happened at Doha Airport
Earlier in the month two horrible things happened at Doha Hamad International Airport.
First of all, a newborn infant was found in an airport trash can, concealed in a plastic bag and buried underneath garbage. Fortunately the baby was discovered in time, and is now safe and receiving medical care in Doha. Suffice to say that this is simply barbaric.
Understandably authorities immediately wanted to investigate the situation, which is the responsible thing to do. However, the way they went about it was awful.
According to reports, female passengers on 10 different flights ended up getting strip searched. Not only that, but some passengers had the insides of their vaginas forcibly examined to determine if they recently gave birth. That’s sexual assault, plain and simple.
This situation has garnered international attention, especially in Australia, where it became a national story.
Qatar government reveals preliminary findings
The government of Qatar has promised a transparent investigation into the situation. I think Qatar’s initial statement about the incident added insult to injury, as the government said it “regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveler caused by this action.” That was a non-apology, along the lines of “sorry if we offended you.”
Qatar’s government has today issued an updated statement with preliminary findings of the investigation. Fortunately the government is now saying the right things:
- Standard procedures were violated with this incident, and those responsible for the illegal actions have been referred to the Public Prosecution office
- The government is reviewing protocols to “ensure that any violations are avoided in the future”
- The government has expressed “sincerest apology for what some female travelers went through as a result of the measures”
- The incident is the first of its kind at the airport, and what was done is “wholly inconsistent with Qatar’s culture and values”
Obviously this entire situation is tragic, from the attempted murder of a newborn to dozens of women being sexually assaulted. It’s completely inexcusable that these exams on so many female passengers happened.
On the plus side, I do at least have to acknowledge that the government is now saying the right things. We can debate the sincerity of the statement, but the government is (at least in words) taking full responsibility for what happened, apologizing unequivocally, calling the actions illegal, and prosecuting the person behind this.
To be clear, I’m not here to put on Qatar pom-poms, but the reality is that there are many other countries in the region that wouldn’t publicly take responsibility in this way. So if there’s any small silver lining, maybe it’s that this won’t happen again…