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Planned class-action lawsuit alleges illegal strip searches of federal prisoners

OTTAWA — A proposed class-action lawsuit alleges authorities illegally strip searched Canadian federal prison inmates hundreds of thousands of times over almost three decades.

A statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court says the federal Corrections and Conditional Release Act limits suspicionless strip searches to instances when an inmate might have had access to drugs or other contraband.

It accuses federal authorities of conducting such searches when inmates leave a prison or a secure area, enter a family visitation area or undergo a transfer to another prison.

The statement says inmates were forced to remove all clothing, bend over, spread their buttocks, manipulate their genitalia, remove soiled tampons and squat naked while their bodily orifices were inspected.

The court action seeks an end to strip searches not authorized by federal law as well as compensation for the proposed class members.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Abby Deshman, co-counsel for the class, says strip searches are incredible intrusions on individual liberty that must be clearly authorized and governed by law.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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