|Disabled lawyer sues Qatar
A Case has been filed in the District Court
of Colombo (Case No 52805/MR) against Qatar Airways by Mr
Senarath Attanayake, a fully wheelchair bound Attorney-at-Law.
Mr Attanayke who is also an Ex-Minister of the Uva Provincial
Council and Ex-Acting Chief Minister is presently a member of
the Uva Provincial Council. He is the first and only wheelchair
bound Attorney-at-Law and the only wheelchair bound politician
in Sri Lanka. He has been disabled since he was one year old due
to polio infection.
Mr Attanayake appearing by his Counsel Mr Chandaka Jayasundare
Attorney-at-Law instructed by M/S Kularatne Associates has
claimed damages amounting to Rs 10 million and other costs.
He claims that in January 2006 he travelled to Frankfurt,
Germany by Qatar Airways to take part in an international
exhibition. He states that he was treated in a very
unprofessional and discourteous manner by the staff of the
airline both on board and at the Doha Airport where the transit
was. When he arrived at Frankfurt he was informed that the two
wheelchairs belonging to him; one of which is a specially
designed motorized wheelchair, has been misplaced by the
airline. The wheelchairs had been returned to him only two days
later in a heavily damaged condition. The airline has totally
disregarded Mr Attanayake’s discomfort due to his inability to
move without his wheelchairs. Thereafter when he returned to Sri
Lanka the airline has again misplaced his manual wheelchair
which was the only mode of movement left to him with the
motorized wheelchair being heavily damaged and unusable. It had
taken the airline two more days to return the wheelchairs to Mr
Attanayake and some missing parts of the motorized wheelchair
had been returned to him only another 7 days later.
Mr Attanayake states that the airline has not taken any action
regarding the loss caused to him and the discomfort.
He states that he has travelled abroad many times before through
other airlines and has never come across such a bad experience.
He states that as a precaution he always books himself to
business class to ensure he travels in comfort. But Qatar
Airways did not even consider the fact that he was a business
Mr Attanayake says his main intention is to bring the rights of
the disabled to the forefront. The country is rarely aware of
the legal remedies available to people living with disabilities.
He says that the disabled community themselves need to be aware
of their rights and has to be geared for the struggle against
discrimination and severe prejudices. In this instance he states
that it is the duty of an airline to pay special attention to a
disabled individual and to treat such a person with due respect
and care. Mr Attanayake also states that he intends to use the
damages from the case towards the benefit of the disabled. He
says his main intention is to contribute towards the building of
proper access to the disabled in all public places and buildings
and also towards initiating a programme for disability
counselling in Sri Lanka.