Supreme Court to Decide Allowance of Niqab While Testifying

The Supreme Court of Canada will present its judgment of an extraordinarily complex case this morning, based on the question of whether a Muslim woman shall be allowed to wear a religious veil on her face, often called ‘niqab,’ while she is testifying in court. The women’s identity is being kept a secret due to a publication ban, hence she is only identified with here initials: N.S. She was denied to testify in court previously, during a case in which she claims two men sexually assaulted her during her childhood.

N.S. has accused the two men, who are her relatives, of sexually assaulting her for more than four-years until she was 10-years-old. The two suspects previously claimed at a court hearing that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives them the right to confront their accuser and observe her facial expressions during testimony. However, the lawyer of N.S. informed that facial expressions can be easily deceptive, while highlighting that Islamic sexual assault victim will always remain distrustful to report the police in case they are not allowed to wear a niqab while testifying in court.

The previous preliminary hearing took place in 2008, when N.S. asserted that she is not going to show her face to any men who are not close relatives. She even refused a direct order from the judge, who had asked her to remove the niqab. The case made its way through the Ontario court system and was heard a year ago by the Supreme Court of Canada.

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