Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sikhs Challenge French Ban on Turbans At UN Human Rights Commission

A petition was filed Monday with the United Nations Human Rights Commission against the French government by the advocacy group United Sikhs. The petition, on behalf of three individuals, challenges a French law that bans the wearing of turbans in schools, and in photos for government identification documents. The petition claims that France is denying Sikhs human rights guaranteed by Articles 2, 17, 12, 18, and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. One of the petitioners was expelled from school for wearing a turban; one cannot get public health services without an ID card; and the third was refused renewal of ID documents. Kuldeep Singh, of the United Sikhs, said: "Under the ICCPR, France may restrict these fundamental rights on only the most compelling grounds, and may do so only so far as absolutely necessary." Last month, the European Court of Human Rights in Singh v. France [decision in French], (Nov 13, 2008), rejected a similar claim. SamayLive and The Times of India yesterday both reported on the petition.