Court hearings consider whether Muslims may testify in Canada wearing veil

An Ontario Superior Court judge has ruled there is no blanket right of a Muslim woman to wear a veil while testifying in court. Justice Frank Marrocco did not issue a broad finding under the Charter of Rights, however, and instead suggested this should be decided by judges on an individual basis in court proceedings. The Superior Court judge released his ruling after hearing arguments this spring in a high-profile case about the clash between religious freedoms and the fair trial rights of a criminal defendant. “The Canadian approach may be a compromise,” wrote Judge Marrocco. ”

Judge Marrocco presided over the appeal of a 32-year old alleged sexual assault victim in Toronto, who was ordered to remove her veil while testifying at the preliminary hearing of the two defendants. If Judge Weisman determines that the statements given while wearing the niqab is not proper evidence, he may order the woman to testify again without the veil. If she refuses, the charges could be dropped against the two men.