Date
28 March 2017
Lai says Hong Kong customs officers at the Shenzhen Bay border control point strip-searched him without a proper explanation. Photo: CNSA
Lai says Hong Kong customs officers at the Shenzhen Bay border control point strip-searched him without a proper explanation. Photo: CNSA

Businessman complains of ‘insulting’ strip search by HK customs

A Hong Kong businessman has complained to the Customs and Excise Department saying he was strip-searched at the Shenzhen Bay border control point on his way home last week without a proper explanation.

The man, surnamed Lai, who came to the city as an investment migrant from Guangdong province in 2010, said the search was a major insult to him, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.

Lai said he was travelling on a bus returning to Hong Kong with his wife on Tuesday.

He went through the e‑Channel for automated immigration clearance. 

A customs officer then stopped him and asked to have his bag examined in the X-ray machine.

Lai said he complied, and the customs officer thoroughly checked his belongings.

He said he was then taken to a room for a body search by two customs officers.

First, he was asked to take off his fleece jacket, and the officers performed a frisk search, also known as a pat-down search.

When the officers asked him to take off his belt and jeans, Lai asked why it was necessary.

He was told that it was a routine procedure.

Lai requested that the whole process be voice- and video-recorded, but the officers refused.

He said he was then asked to lower his briefs to his knees and adopt a squatting position while a customs officer bent down to inspect Lai’s bottom.

Lai said he felt hugely insulted asked the officers why he had to remove his pants.

He said he has never been asked to undergo a body search without a reason.

“I was never asked to do so even when I was travelling to Mexico or the United States,” Lai said.

“It was infringing my privacy and an inhumane treatment.”

Lai said customs could not just use “routine procedure” as an excuse and should give a proper reason before carrying out a search of that magnitude.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said customs must have legitimate suspicions based on intelligence or specific observations to carry out a strip search, and the searches must comply with the relevant guidelines.

A customs representative said officers requested a search on Lai on Jan. 19 based on a set of risk assessment protocols and that Lai collected his personal belongings and left the border control point afterward.

The representative said there are stringent requirements and guidelines on performing a search, which must be carried out in a room by two officers — one a supervisor — of the same sex as the person being searched.

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