CAP Freedom of Conscience, UNITED SIKHS and Unge Sikhe are making this joint statement to highlight the violation of religious freedom that wearers of religious headgear are facing in Norway.
In 2014, the Norwegian Government introduced Regulations for passport photographs that adversely impacts those who wear religious headgear. On 7th March 2019, the Norwegian Government reviewed the said regulations and is proposing that the Regulations be maintained and that they be extended to National ID Cards.
Under the Regulations, a Sikh and Muslim woman is allowed to wear the Sikh turban and Hijab, respectively, for religious reasons. However, a turban and hijab wearer is required to bare his/her ears for their passport and, as proposed, for their ID card photographs. The Sikh turban and the Hijab is traditionally worn covering the ears. A Sikh and Muslim would thus be required to remove their turban and hijab, respectvely, to show their ears each time they show their passport and National ID cards. This repeated removal of the turban or hijab would be a violation of the individuals dignity and religious faith and it violates articles 2, 12, 18 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The Norwegian authorities have not proved that the requirement for bare ears is necessary or even relevant to achieve the set aims, namely to prevent misuse of passports and ID cards and to increase security in Norway.
There are many other biometric markers available that can be used for identification – such as fingerprints, signature, height and eye colour. The Norwegian authorities have not showed that manual identification is necessary today in relation to ears.
We have submitted a Written Statement with details on this issue during the 41st Human Rights Council in June this year.
We urge Norway to allow people of fath to live in dignity.