Federal court dismisses case of Doha strip search victims, lawyer to appeal

Judge and gavel in courtroom
Edited by Travel Weekly

    The federal court has dismissed the case of five Australian women who were subject to a humiliating and invasive strip search at Doha airport.

    The women, aged between 33 and 75, were among dozens who were marched off the plane at Hamad International Airport in October 2020 after a newborn baby was found in a rubbish bin within the airport terminal.

    The women were forced into ambulances at gunpoint and subject to invasive and humiliating internal examinations.

    Following a lengthy discussion, Federal Court judge John Halley has said the case had no grounds under the Montreal Convention that governed international aviation.

    Halley is quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying, “in no view did the invasive examinations of the (women) take place ‘on board the aircraft’ or in the course of embarking or disembarking the aircraft”.

    “The exclusivity principle in the Montreal Convention therefore precludes the applicants advancing this claim and it must therefore be summarily dismissed or struck out.”

    Considering the victim’s claims against the owner of Hamad International Airport, MATAR the court said there were “no reasonable prospects of success” given the lawyer and women were trying to attribute liability to the airport for the actions of the Qatari police and a nurse.

    Halley found no reason to refute MATAR’s evidence that the “armed and unarmed persons in dark uniforms and the female who appeared to be a nurse were not agents of the airport, or acting under the airport’s direction or control”.

    “No attempt is made to identify the agents beyond these general assertions,” Halley said.

    The women’s lawyer Damian Sturzaker of Marque Lawyers said they were carefully looking at the evidence given by the judge.

    “We’ll be looking at that and exploring what options there are in relation to appeal,” Sturzaker said.

    “It’s not the end. Insofar as the current court decision, there’s been a narrowing of the case, but the fundamental allegations remain the same: they are that the acts that were committed were illegal.”

    The perpetrator who was head of airport security was found guilty and jailed for the crim.

    Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au


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