Canadian court to rule on ‘veil’ testimony

An Ontario court is considering whether an alleged rape victim may testify with her face covered, which defendants say would call her truthfulness in question.

At a preliminary hearing last year, a judge ordered the 32-year-old woman to remove her niqab, or burqa, so defense lawyers could assess her claims of being molested. She resisted, saying her religion bars her from exposing her face to non-family members, the Globe and Mail reported Tuesday.

The defendants – a cousin and uncle of the woman – argue the truthfulness of her testimony cannot be determined if her face is hidden.

Some legal experts claim veils provide a convenient shield for a lying witness, while others reject the idea of facial expressions being a reliable guide to honesty, the newspaper said. The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund says disallowing veils would drive Muslim women from the justice system.

The case is currently before an Ontario appeals court.

UPI, 8 June 2010