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New South Wales to introduce 'burqa-proof' identity checks from April 30

Melbourne, Mon, 05 Mar 2012 ANI

Melbourne, Mar 5(ANI): New South Wales has introduced "burqa proof identity checks" that would require women wearing burqas to show their faces to lawyers before witnessing their signatures.


The move follows a public outcry over last year's controversial Carnita Matthews case.


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


The Justices of Peace who witnessed the signature of a woman wearing a burqa had assumed it was Matthews but had not asked her to show her face.


New South Wales' Attorney-General Greg Smith said the case highlighted the need for the new laws that would come into effect from April 30.


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.


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


According to the new law, if the person refuses to show her or his face without legitimate medical reason, the lawyer must refuse to be a witness to either of their signatures. (ANI)


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