Shuaib Lwasa was stopped near the city’s Central Station in October as he stretched his legs during a break in a meeting with Norway’s Climate and Pollution Agency, newspaper Aftenposten reports.
Lwasa, a researcher with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said a police officer asked him where he was going and requested that he show identification. Before he had time to answer, the officer went through his pockets as passers-by looked on, the paper said.
Shaken by the incident, Lwasa wrote a complaint to the police demanding a formal apology for the “disrespectful” and “humiliating” encounter.
The Norwegian government’s climate agency also took the police to task, asking if they should now start warning future guests of the risk that they risked falling foul of the forces of law and order.
The police clarified in a letter that it was permitted “in certain situations” to search somebody for their identity papers, but admitted that in this case it was “incorrect and shouldn’t have been carried out.”
Lwasa accepted the subsequent apology but remained angry at what he described as “lies” by the police officer who stopped him on Karl Johans Gate.
The policeman told superiors that he followed Lwasa because he had a bulge in his pocket and appeared concerned when he caught sight of the officer.
“I had my hands in my pocket because it was cold,” Lwasa told Aftenposten.
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He added that he had no idea the area around the station was known as a hotbed of drug-dealing activity.
“I asked for the reason he was searching me. He replied that this street was well known to have lots of black people selling drugs. Is that not racist?”
Lwasa said the experience had left him traumatized, adding that he had never experienced anything else like it in all his years of international travel.