Veiled women victory

A legal advance welcomed by the anti-discrimination body, UNIA. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned Belgium to a court in 2018 for ousting a hidden woman from a courtroom, reports Belgian, It was on the basis of Article 759 of the Judicial Code that a judge refused to go to court to hear this woman wearing a veil. This article was “adopted in the 19th century, at a time when everyone wore hats?”, explains UNIA director Patrick Charlier. In its decision, the ECHR recognized that the practice violated freedom of worship.

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However, the judicial code was not amended, and only a circular was sent to the courts and tribunals to draw their attention to the Belgian sentencing, reports UNIA. “Uniya continued to receive reports mainly from Muslim women wearing headscarves,” explains Patrick Charlier. Some removed it, fearing that their refusal would negatively affect the judge’s final decision, which is unacceptable”.

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Based on these reports, the UNIA turned to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in March 2019, which oversees compliance with the decisions of the ECHR. The institution informed them about the need for amendment of Article 759 of the Judicial Code. Unia won. This article is “now adapted”, cheers the organization for the fight against discrimination. She says she is happy to be able to “contribute to this advance for fundamental rights”.

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