Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Trial judges will have to consider if fairness would be compromised if a witness were to testify wearing a niqab. (REUTERS)
Trial judges will have to consider if fairness would be compromised if a witness were to testify wearing a niqab. (REUTERS)

After Supreme Court decision, Ontario court orders woman to remove veil to testify Add to ...

An Ontario judge has ruled that a woman must remove her face-covering veil to testify against the men she is accusing of sexual assault.

The judge says the woman’s niqab “masks her demeanour and blocks both effective cross-examination by counsel for the accused and assessment of her credibility by the trier of fact.”

More Related to this Story

The 37-year-old woman, known only as N.S., alleges two men sexually assaulted her over five years, starting when she was six years old.

The question of whether she should be allowed to testify in the case while wearing her niqab went all the way up to the Supreme Court of Canada, which issued a split decision but set out a test for judges to decide in individual cases.

The case is now back in provincial court for the preliminary inquiry, five years after the challenge began, and Judge Norris Weisman ruled that the woman must remove her veil to testify at the hearing.

Weisman noted that he had to balance her religious freedom with the accused men’s right to a fair trial, but in the end he was concerned that her face covering would hinder assessment of her credibility, possibly resulting in wrongful convictions.

Follow us on Twitter: @globeandmail

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories