Monday, June 16, 2014

Another Illegal Strip Search of Workers By Police In Trinidad and Tobago

TWO female staff members at the Bon Air Government Primary School have claimed they were illegally strip-searched at the school, following claims by a school official that they had stolen money.

The Express has been told that the two women, one of them an On-the-Job Trainee (OJT), work at the official’s office and were strip-searched last Wednesday by a female police officer. 

The women, through their attorney Kenya Murray, have filed letters complaining that the official and a male and female police officer violated their constitutional rights by searching them without a warrant.

In the claims brought against the official, the employees said the official claimed that money had gone missing on several occasions from her purse, which she keeps inside her office.

The women, in letters sent by Murray to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, said they were called into a meeting with the official and were confronted by two police officers. 

The officers allegedly searched the handbags and workstations of the women and went on to demand that a body search be conducted to look for the missing money.

The women said they were then taken to the bathroom in the official’s office, where the female officer ordered them to open their blouses for a visual inspection.

The police allegedly told the women they had a serial number for one of the missing bills and that they were looking specifically for that bill.

The letters state that the official told the women she knew it was possible that a child had taken the money but that she “works too hard” for it and wanted some action to be taken.

“My client was interrogated intensely and searched without her consent and as a result, felt distressed and humiliated,” Murray stated in one letter.

Murray goes on to describe the actions of the police as “irregular, excessive and unconstitutional” and said the women were never informed of whether they were considered suspects, were under arrest, were not cautioned according to the Judge’s rules or informed of their rights.

The women are calling on the Ministry of Education to investigate the incident and to discipline the official.
When the Express called the official’s cellular telephone, a woman answered, claiming not to be her (the person named by the women) but another member of staff.

The woman insisted on details of why the Express was calling and after being told that an incident had occurred involving the official, the police and two female staff members, she claimed that no such incident had taken place. The phone call was then cut off.


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