Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jan 2009
Source: Standard, The (China)
Copyright: 2009 The Standard Newspapers Publishing Ltd.
Author: Patsy Moy
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


Drug traffickers have invented ingenious ways to smuggle drugs into 
prisons - including intentionally committing crimes to get arrested.

But 95 percent of the drugs meant for inmates last year were seized 
at the reception centers in Lai Chi Kok and Tai Lam, officials say.

Correctional Services Officers Association junior section chairman 
Peter Chan Ba-tak credited the thoroughness of the inspectors and 
controversial body-cavity searches for the success in preventing 
drugs from getting into prisons.

He said the 5 percent that did get through were either smuggled into 
prisons using less checked cavities in the body as well as through 
visitors. A prisoner then showed reporters how he stored 12 peanuts 
in his sinuses before sneezing them out. Other hiding areas include 
the ear canal and the rectum.

Chan said drugs were sometimes seized from inmates who were 
imprisoned for non-drug offenses, indicating they were deliberately 
getting arrested to penetrate the prison system.

"Some inmates are well-trained in hiding as many items as possible 
inside their bodies. It is really amazing, like performing 
acrobatics," said Law Kam-kuen, the association's vice chairman.

The Correctional Services Department said it "makes every effort to 
prevent the smuggling of dangerous drugs into, and eradicate their 
presence in correctional institutions."

Last December The Standard exclusively reported that the United 
Nations had expressed concern over the practice of cavity searches on 
inmates and urged the government to seek alternative methods.

The UN Committee against Torture said if such a search has to be 
conducted, it must be only as a last resort.  Human Rights Monitor 
director Law Yuk-kai expressed his support for the UN's view.

But the union disagrees. "If we did not maintain our current practice 
of cavity searches, our prisons would be inundated with drugs," Law said.

"Do you think our community would still have confidence in Hong 
Kong's law and order if our prisons are plagued with drug problems?

"Conducting a body-cavity search is an unpleasant task.  We would be 
happy if there are new technologies to replace manual checking. But 
before that happens, body-cavity searches are the only way to keep 
our prisons drug-free."

Law said one reason syndicates try to smuggle drugs into prisons is 
because they can fetch up to 10 times the price on the outside. "It 
is a matter of supply and demand. But our inspection system is so 
tight that many cases are spotted the moment we begin intensive 
body-cavity searches," Chan said. 
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