More Australians could face tough justice in the United Arab Emirates after a new agreement between Qantas and Dubai-based Emirates airline, a Liberal MP warns.
Senator Helen Kroger says the British charity group Detained in Dubai has reported a number of arbitrary arrests in Dubai airport.
They include an Australian man detained for a number of months and two Canadians who were locked up for a month after they were found in possession of the arthritis drug Celebrex.
"It is because of these random events that I ... express concern about possible dangers for Qantas passengers transiting through Dubai, but unfortunately they do not stop at the airport," she told the Senate yesterday.
Senator Kroger cited the cases of Australian business executives Matthew Joyce and Marcus Lee, arrested on trumped up fraud charges in Dubai, and an Australian woman who was raped after her drink was spiked and who faces being charged for having sex outside marriage.
"It does beg the question, what precautions and warnings will Qantas provide unmarried passengers who are either single or in defacto relationships," she said.
Senator Kroger said another section of Dubai's penal code imposed up to 10 years jail for consensual sodomy.
"Will there be warnings to gay Australians who transit through Dubai?"
Senator Kroger said there were also issues for Australians of Jewish descent and Christians who travelled to Israel.
She noted the nature of the world aviation business meant Australia's premier carrier needed to explore all commercial opportunities to remain a viable business.
"But as a senator in this place I cannot put aside and put to the fore the commercial interests of our premier carrier before the human rights and safekeeping of Australian citizens which are still under threat ... in Dubai."
Qantas earlier this month sealed a 10-year partnership with Emirates that involves it shifting its European hub to Dubai, from Singapore.