Woman asked to strip naked and squat at airport suing Gov’t, CANU
Ayana Adams, a Guyanese woman who said officers of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) wanted her to strip naked and squat at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, is suing the Government and CANU.
The woman said that when she refused, she was compelled to undergo an x-ray in Georgetown, causing her to miss her flight back home.
Adams is Guyanese by birth and has U.S. citizenship. She was vacationing in Guyana and was returning to New York.
On Sunday afternoon, Adams checked in at the airport. Her two suitcases, along with her one carry-on bag and her personal bag, were searched by an officer of CANU.
She was cleared and proceeded to immigration, where her passport was stamped.
Next, it was time for the security check. Once she was screened, she was told to take a seat. Then, she was escorted into a room by two female Police officers who said they were instructed to carry out a search on her.
She hesitantly agreed but it was when she was told to take off her underwear and to squat and cough that she refused.
She asked if there was any other way the search could be done. She was told that the only other way is an x-ray and that would be in Georgetown, meaning she would miss her flight.
She decided on that option and was taken to a city hospital; she contacted an attorney before telling CANU she would not consent to the x-ray.
The Attorney, Siand Dhurjon, also arrived at the hospital and stated his client’s wishes. But CANU determined that the woman had to undergo the x-ray.
Dhurjon said that CANU does not have the power to require such a search.
“For them to actually require a strip search, or a cavity search, or for them to require someone submit to an ultrasound or an x-ray, (they) you need specific sanction for that.
“And what that simply means is there must be an act of Parliament or a section in the law books that authorises them to say under (what) conditions the Police or CANU can do this,” Dhurjon stated.
Once the x-ray was done, Ayana Adams was cleared.
“So what happened was an affront to her dignity,” said Dhurjon.
The Attorney said it is not that CANU or officers at the airport cannot carry out their normal functions, and to carry out further searches if they have reasonable suspicion.
But in this case, they had none, and certainly nothing that would warrant the humiliation of his client.
The Attorney said that Ayana Adams’ case is by no means unusual.
“It would be frightening if we knew the full extent, in most cases people are ashamed to come forward,” he stated.
By suing the Government and CANU, Adams is hoping to set the record clear once and for all that CANU does not have the power to humiliate anyone the way she was, and if they do, they should be made to pay.