Queensland strip search laws "assault"
Queensland's new mandatory prison strip search rules were legalised assault, a women's prison counsellor said. New laws passed last week in the Queensland state Parliament made strip searching mandatory for prisoners who had contact with visitors, went to court or to hospital. Queensland Corrective Services Minister Tony McGrady said the rule was necessary to stop the flow of drugs into the prison system. "On balance I believe that I have a responsibility to prevent drugs and contraband getting inside the prisons of Queensland", Mr McGrady told ABC Radio. However, Sisters Inside spokeswoman Debbie Kilroy said the new laws were sexual assault by the state. "This is why they have to legislate it, it is an assault under the criminal code. However, the government gets away with it by legislating a crime, so it is not a crime." Ms Kilroy described the invasive process. "You strip off the top half of your body, turn around, lift up your breasts, then you are given your bra back again. "Then you have to remove the bottom of your clothing, hands against the wall, squat, cough, and if you are menstruating you have to remove your tampon and give it to the officer." The strip searches will also be taped, a move Minister McGrady claimed was in the best interest of prisoners. "It will only be seen by the manager of the prison and certainly won't be seen or used by any other persons", he said. "If we have these searches on camera and allegations are made by the prisoners you have the proof in front of you to counter or indeed prove the claim by the prisoner." But Australian Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Terry O'Gorman said there were better ways to stop drugs entering prisons. "What would be a more enlightened measure would be to see methadone extended to all Queensland prisons so that people who go into prison drug addicted can be properly treated and not become worse drug addicted while they are in prison", Mr O'Gorman said.