Burqa-clad women should show face when asked to witness their signature: Australian legal body

Law Institute of VictoriaMELBOURNE: A top legal body of Australia, Law Institute of Victoria, has asked for new laws in the state for women wearing burqas making it mandatory to show their face when asked to witness their signature.

President of Law Institute of Victoria, Michael Holcroft has said there were several occasions where Justices of Peace (JPs) and lawyers needed to certify a person’s identity by seeing their face.”I can understand the practical issues why identification is important, and I think as long as we remain culturally and religiously sensitive then there’s probably some support for it,” Holcroft said.He said its implementation should be accompanied by an education campaign so that people were culturally aware.

“I would like to see some best practice put out there so people don’t intentionally cause offence,” he said.Responding on this, Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Nazeem Hussain said existing laws empowering police to demand anyone to remove a facial covering were sufficient.”What is clear, is that Muslims in Australia have no problem with the underlying principle to identify for the purpose of ensuring security, public safety and complying with the law,” he said.

The demand was made as New South Wales Government announced its tough stance to “burqa-proof” identity checks to minimise the risk of fraud.According to ‘Herald Sun’ report today, in a controversial Carnita Matthews case, a Muslim, who had her conviction overturned for knowingly making a false statement because the prosecution could not prove that she had signed the statement, highlighted the need for the change.The 23-year-old Justice of the Peace witnessed the signature of a woman wearing burqa at Minto Mosque assumed it was Matthews but hadn’t asked her to show her face.The JP or lawyer will have to certify in writing on the documents they have seen the person’s face or risk a $220 fine for lying. – TOI