Woman's Right to Testify In Veil a Religious Freedom?

March 2, 2009

Author: Shannon Kari

Source: National Post


The Ontario Human Rights Commission is arguing that a provincial court judge failed to recognize the religious freedoms of a Muslim woman when he ordered her to testify at a sexual assault trial without a veil known as a niqab.

The government agency is asking for special permission to be allowed to intervene at a Superior Court proceeding hearing an appeal of the lower court decision because of its 45 years of "expertise" in the area of human rights.

"The commission can offer the court assistance and expertise in the area of accommodation particularly in relation to discrimination based on creed or religious belief," states an affidavit by Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the human rights body.

The Superior Court hearing is scheduled to begin this morning in Toronto.

The hearing stems from a ruling last fall by provincial court Justice Norris Weisman.

He ruled that the woman must remove the veil that covers everything but her eyes while testifying at the preliminary hearing of two men accused of sexually assaulting her.