Canadian court to decide if Muslim woman can testify wearing niqab

via Court to decide if woman can testify wearing niqab in sexual assault case – The Globe and Mail.

The Supreme Court of Canada will attempt to balance Islamic beliefs against the bedrock elements of a fair trial on Thursday in major clash of constitutional rights.

At the centre of the case is a sexual assault complainant known as N.S., who does not want to testify against two men accused of raping her unless her face is obscured by a religious veil, or niqab.

The defendants assert that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees them the right to confront their accuser and observe her facial nuances as she testifies.

However, lawyers for N.S. say facial expressions are frequently misleading and that Islamic rape victims will be reluctant to go to police if they may later be ritually “stripped” in a courtroom.

The court case will be decided by just seven of the court’s nine judges because Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver sat on an Ontario Court of Appeal panel that heard the N.S. case earlier this year. (To prevent a tie vote, the court has to drop a second judge from the panel.)

“The niqab case is a perfect storm of issues,” said University of Ottawa law professor Carissima Mathen. “Demeanour has been used in destructive ways against sexual assault complainants. … The difficulty is compounded when a witness observes different cultural cues – avoiding eye contact for example.”

Ms. Mathen said that the notion that an individual’s facial expressions can determine his or her credibility is deeply entrenched in popular belief and legal practice, and will not be easily uprooted.

The Ontario Court of Appeal in a ruling earlier this year proposed a compromise in which a trial judge must inquire into the sincerity of the witness’s religious beliefs, the importance of her testimony and whether the witness has made exceptions in the past to her religious convictions.

Ms. Mathen said that the Supreme Court must avoid determining the case based on interpretations of Islam.

Her lawyers basically want separate rules for Muslims – but they probably don’t want the rape case tried under sharia – where she’d need four witnesses and could likely be the one convicted of a crime.

10 Responses

  1. Why complicate the issue. The Canadian Supreme Court should follow exsisting practice and not rule based on interpreting Islamic laws. I do have sympathy for women living in a free country but still in stone age bondage. Regardless, the answer is not to capitulate in order to accomodate the demands of Islam law. As hard as it might be for the accuser to show her face, it likely would greatly help in nailing the rapist and encourage other rape victims of her culture to risk it and come forward when victims of rape.

  2. Follow the rules of the country you are in or go somewhere that has the 7th century rules you want to follow.

  3. There was a similar case In Western Australia earlier this year on a fraud/embezzlement case in an Islamic school.
    The witness (a muzzie in niqab) didn’t want to take it off citing the usual bullshit.
    The judge (a female) after a couple of weeks deliberation, ordered her to take the niqab off so that she can be identified properly.

    Western Australia is in the Commonwealth of Australia, Canada is also a Commonwealth country, so precedent has been set.

    Game, set & match.
    Thankyou linesmen, thankyou ballboys!

  4. Want to bet that the SUPREME COURT WILL CAVE INTO THESE THUGS OF DEATH!!! LOCK AND LOAD.

  5. If I was was a judge I would want to if she is pink or is it just a wolf in sheep clothing. Why would any man be interested in their dogs woof woof The lone ranger would say to Tonto Hi ho silver and away.

  6. This a very complicated issue. These Islamist are barbarians. What would they do to her if they new who she was?

  7. Who cares about the charter when Muslim political correctness is at stake?

    How do I know there is not a weapon in it?

  8. i would hardly call an exposed face being “stripped”.

  9. The thing that is wrong with this whole issue , is that in a muslim country, women are made to show their faces in a court of law. Another case of muslims telling non muslims lies in order to change things to suit themselves.

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