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Woman handcuffed, strip-searched at Canadian airport

Last updated: 19 December, 2009
Toronto, Dec19, (Agencies): 22:20 IST

A 42-year-old black Canadian woman was forced to undress and bodily searched for drugs at Ottawa airport on her return from Jamaica.

Charmaine Archer, who was returning home from Jamaica on Tuesday night, said she was forced to open her rectum, lift her breast, and looked underneath her crotch by customs officials. The woman said she was pulled aside by the customs agents “because she paid for part of her ticket with a credit card, because she booked last minute and because she only stayed for four days”.

After running gauze swabs over her wallet, the lining of her suitcase and her toothbrush, the agents told her that her toothbrush has tested positive for heroin and THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, the woman said.

When they told her to submit to a strip search, she said: “No way that’s going to happen! My husband don’t know what’s inside my rectum and neither will you.’’ After sending her four-year-old son out to join her waiting husband, she said the agents handcuffed her and forced her to undergo strip search.

“I got undressed. There were three women in the room. I’m a big person, very conscious of my body... you can imagine how I felt. They made me stand up and hold my arm up and they made me lift up my breast. Then she told me to turn around and bend all the way over with my feet wide apart. And then she told me to use my hand and open my rectum.

“They told me to put one foot forward then squat and cough ... they told me to lift up my belly and they told me open my feet apart and to pry my legs apart and they looked underneath my crotch.’’

She said the humiliation left her shaking and crying as nothing was found on her. “They never apologised,’’ she added. The woman said she was mulling legal action.

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