By: Australian Associated Press
A new law requiring Muslim women to remove a burqa or niqab to prove their identity to West Australian police has been passed by the state’s parliament.
The legislation was drafted in response to public outcry about the case of mother of seven Carnita Matthews who wore a burqa, and had a conviction of knowingly making a false statement quashed.
Matthews was originally given a six-month jail sentence after being found guilty of falsely accusing a senior constable of forcibly trying to remove her burqa when she was pulled over while driving in Woodbine in Sydney’s south west in June 2010.
She was later acquitted on appeal after the prosecution could not prove she was the woman who signed the statement while wearing the garment.
The acting WA police minister, John Day, said the legislation, which was passed on Thursday, had been amended after consultation with the Muslim and Sikh communities.
“Initially, the legislation stated police would be able to require someone to remove their headwear for the purposes of identification,” Day said.
“However, following consultation with the Muslim and Sikh communities, the government agreed to change the word headwear to face covering.”
He said the change had removed “some” of the concerns of the communities, while police had advised it was acceptable.
“So I am confident a satisfactory compromise has been reached,” he said.
The new law also makes it easier for police to take DNA from suspects, with the definition of “identifying particular” expanded to permit the taking of dental impressions, hair samples and body tissues.
It also provides a process for applying to a magistrate for a warrant when samples are needed from juvenile suspects who have not been charged when there is no responsible person, or they cannot be found, or it is impracticable to make requests to them.