Friday, October 29, 2004

Justice is Veiled

I've been interested in the Burkha testimony case ever since I frist heard of it.

Whilst I agree there is a very interesting debate to be had about religous rights and freedom and how they impact on our society, in this case I am more concerned with the ability of the lady involved to give proper evidence if the court requires her to remove her veiled (I posted these comments on DPF's blog but didnt really get a proper response to the charge that the evidence she will give will be compromised)

It has been said that one cannot judge the quality of evidence giving by this person because we cannot see her face and thus judge her expressions, reactions and body language. Whilst I accept you cannot do these things I wonder what the implications for her evidence would be if we for her to remove the veil.
I'd argue that the quality of evidence that she could give would be terrible. At best she would look nervous, at worst she would be fidgety, blushing, looking around nervously and frightened. I believe that this situation is worse and that her evidence is compromised by making her take the veil off.
I have a few questions for the "If she don’t like it then tuff" crowd.

- Can a blind lawyer or juror assess the testimony of someone in court without seeing his or her body language?

- Imagine your in a country of nudists, yet they let immigrants keep their clothes on in public. However you are required to go to court one day where you are forced to take off all your clothes in front of people to give evidence, what would your state of being be? Would you feel comfortable? Able to interact properly with the lawyer and present a calm face to the jurors? Or would you feel embarrassed to the point of harming the quality of evidence that you were able to give.

- What kind of country do we want? A NZ where we respect peoples different cultural practices, or a Middle Eastern type country where we force people to dress themselves how we see fit.


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