Police in Australia have been strip searching children, hoping to find drugs

The New York Times reports that girls as young as 12 have been stripped searched at music festival by Australian police eager to make drug arrests. Australia's zero-tolerance drug policy is "the only form of legislation that allows an adult to tell a young child to take off all their clothes," Samantha Lee, the head of the Police Accountability Practice at the Redfern Legal Center, told the Times

From the article:

"It's highly likely the vast majority of strip searches are being conducted unlawfully," said Vicki Sentas, a senior law lecturer at the University of New South Wales who has researched strip-searching statistics.

In an inquiry conducted last month by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, a 16-year-old girl who attended a festival said she was asked to squat and cough in front of a police officer. She had no drugs.

"I could not stop crying. I was completely humiliated," she said, according to her complaint. An officer who worked at the festival admitted that some of the searches he conducted may have been unlawful.

Mark Speakman, the state's attorney general, said that strip searches in general were an "important investigative tool" but that the police needed to "get the balance right."

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