Payne welcomes apology from Qatar

Andi Yu
·2-min read

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has welcomed an apology from Qatar over the forced internal examinations of women, including 13 Australians, after an abandoned baby was found at Doha International Airport.

She expressed gratitude on Saturday to the Qatari government for identifying the individuals who subjected the female passengers on a Sydney-bound flight to the invasive examinations on October 2.

They have been referred to Qatar's public prosecution office, though Ms Payne could not say if charges had been laid or how many people had been identified.

"We are very grateful that the Qatari government has taken these steps to identify the individuals involved, to apply the appropriate provisions of the Qatari legal system, and importantly to provide an assurance that this will never happen again," she told reporters in Sydney.

Asked about possible financial compensation to the assaulted women, Ms Payne said that was a matter for the Qatari government.

She said she had spoken on Friday night to her Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, who conveyed his sincere apologies and assured her of legal action and that such an incident would never be repeated.

The Australian government is awaiting a full report from Qatar on the matter.

The newborn baby girl who was abandoned in the airport is well and being looked after.

"I'm not going to provide any further comment on the situation of the mother," she said.

"That is not something of which I have personal awareness and information and is a matter for the Qatari system."

Shadow spokeswoman for foreign affairs Penny Wong said Labor expected justice for the assaulted women and she welcomed the Qataris' apology.

"We hope these developments provide some measure of healing for the women who were assaulted," she said on Saturday.

"Labor calls on the foreign minister to ensure the women are supported and that this is resolved to their satisfaction."

Earlier a statement from Qatar's Government Communication Office said "standard procedures were violated".

"What took place is wholly inconsistent with Qatar's culture and values," it said.

The statement said the prime minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani and interior minister had offered his country's "sincerest apology" to the women forced to undergo the examinations.

The Qatari apology comes after the Australian government expressed outrage and union workers threatened not to service Qatar Airways aircraft in Sydney over the incident.