Monday, March 5, 2012

Move on to "burqa-proof" identity checks

Well good on Oz. This is an important first step in being able to positively identify Muslim women wearing full face veils. In the long run however, all immigrants need to have much more positive means of identification. All immigrants should have full holographic images of the head, an iris scan, full fingerprint set and DNA sample taken upon applying for a visa. Relying on a drivers license and or ability for a relative stranger to positively identify an immigrant is simply inadequate.


Move on to "burqa-proof" identity checks

* From: The Daily Telegraph
* March 05, 2012 12:00AM

* Burqa wearers to show faces before signing papers
* April 30 laws would minimise the risk of fraud
* Covers statutory declarations, affidavits, licences

LAWYERS and JPs will have to ask women wearing burqas to show their faces before witnessing their signatures under tough new laws in New South Wales.

The move to "burqa-proof" identity checks follows a public outcry following last year's controversial Carnita Matthews case.

Ms Matthews, a Muslim, had her conviction overturned for knowingly making a false statement accusing a police officer of racism because the prosecution could not prove that she had signed the statement.

The 23-year-old JP who witnessed the signature of a woman wearing a full black niqab had assumed it was Ms Matthews but had not asked her to show her face.

Attorney-General Greg Smith said yesterday the case highlighted the need for change and the new laws, to begin on April 30, would minimise the risk of fraud.

"They will require authorised witnesses, such as JPs and lawyers, to see a person's face and confirm their identity before signing their statutory declaration or affidavit," Mr Smith said.

The new laws cover the witnessing of legally binding documents including statutory declarations and affidavits and include all face coverings including motorcycle helmets, masks, veils, scarves, niqabs and balaclavas.

The JP or lawyer will also have to certify in writing on the documents that they have seen the person's face and have confirmed their identity through documents including a driver's licence.

They face a fine of $220 for lying.

"If a person is wearing a face covering, an authorised witness should politely and respectfully ask them to show their face," Mr Smith said.

"The person would only be required to show their face for as long as it is necessary to establish identity and in some cases this will not require the full removal of a head covering."

If the person refuses to show their face without a legitimate medical reason, the JP or lawyer must refuse to witness their signature.

Muslim community spokesman Keysar Trad said it was important to verify identity and most women would be happy to temporarily remove their face covering.

"As long as it is not abused, nobody should have a problem," he said.

"If a lady is worried they can go to a female JP."

It is the latest fallout from the case involving Ms Matthews. It has already led to changes to traffic laws, under which a driver who refuses to show their face can be jailed for up to a year or fined $5500.

After Ms Matthews, 48, was pulled over last year, a complaint purportedly signed by her was handed in to Campbelltown Police Station accusing the traffic officer of racism and of trying to rip away her full-face niqab, similar to a burqa.

The officer on duty had not asked to see the person's face and the JP who had witnessed the signature "C. Matthews" on the complaint had "assumed" it was Ms Matthews.

When charged with knowingly making a false complaint, Ms Matthews pleaded not guilty. She said it wasn't her signature on the document. She was convicted in the local court but that conviction was later quashed.