€1,000 compensation for innocent woman forced to search her own faeces for drugs

The woman was made to endure a vaginal examination, and was administered a laxative before being made to search through her own faeces

A Dutch woman has been awarded €1,000 in moral damages by the Constitutional Court for being made to search through her own faeces after being incorrectly suspected of drug trafficking in 2015.

The woman, Jennifer Koster, had also been subjected to intimate searches.  She had filed constitutional proceedings, claiming a breach of her rights.

Koster had objected to the fact that she had been made to endure a vaginal examination and administered a laxative before being made to search through her own faeces.

The woman had previously lost a case she had filed against the police in the First Hall of the Civil Court, where she was claiming arbitrary arrest. She had been held by the police for over 16 hours, on suspicion of being a drug mule.

The court had heard how Koster had visited Malta to see her Maltese boyfriend, who the police suspected was a drug trafficker. Upon arrival at the airport, she was followed to Mriehel and arrested. Koster had consistently denied any wrongdoing and cooperated with the police, undergoing X-rays and other medical examinations, all the while under police guard. The intimate searches were carried out by a male doctor, she said.

The case was decided this morning by Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti and judges Giannino Caruana Demajo and Anthony Ellul, presiding the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court noted that the arrest and search had been carried out after a magistrate had issued a warrant and on reasonable suspicion. The fact that the couple had driven towards an industrial area instead of to their home had made the police even more suspicious, observed the judges.

“In the opinion of this court, even if it had to be accepted that the fact alone that the appellant was forced to search through her own excrement does not constitute degrading treatment, when combined with the fact that the appellant was left dirty and naked until an apron was found and the search carried out, the court feels that taking into consideration all the circumstances, the appellant suffered degrading treatment,” said the court.

“The defendants had the duty to mitigate the embarrassment and humiliation of the procedures which the appellant was subjected to and ensure that these were carried out in the most dignified manner possible.”

The court awarded the woman €1,000 in moral damages, ordering the Commissioner of Police and the State Advocate to suffer the costs of the proceedings.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Amadeus Cachia represented Koster in the proceedings.