CANU vows to continue work in professional manner amidst ‘strip & search’ complaints
Following complaints from two women, including one who claimed that she was stripped and searched at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) says it will continue to do its job “lawfully and in accordance with local and international standards with due cordiality and professionalism.”
Ayana Adams, a Guyanese woman who resides in the US and was asked to subject herself to a body cavity search on April 07, and Malika Cole who was actually subjected to the search on April 02, have indicated that they will be suing the Government and CANU.
The Unit in a statement on Wednesday evening said in keeping with CANU’s mandate to stem the trafficking of narcotics, it has been successful in thwarting a number of passengers from using their bodies, luggage, cargo and other objects to traffic narcotics through Guyana’s Ports.
As such, it said law enforcement operatives at all ports in Guyana have been and will continue to conduct their searches of passengers, luggage, vehicles etc. at all Ports of entry and exit.
Adams’ Attorney, Siand Dhurjon, argued that CANU does not have the power to require such a search.
However, CANU said it conducts its duties in tandem with the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act Chapter 10:10 of the Laws of Guyana.
The Act states that “Any member of the Police Force, or any other person authorised in writing by the Commissioner of Police…who has reasonable cause to suspect that any person is in possession of, or is removing, any narcotic in contravention to this act may – stop and search the person and any conveyance in which he is, and any package in his possession or under his control.”
The authorities can seize items or detain the person.
While the act states that the police force or authorised person may use such assistance and such force as may be reasonable for carrying out his functions, it makes no specific mention of a provision to strip and search passengers or to subject them to medical procedures.