Headscarves on driver’s licences

Headscarves on driver’s licences


By Natasa Radic – Zagreb

Starting from July 1st it will be possibile in Croatia to have a driver’s licenses’ with photographs of people wearing scarves and hats for religious or health reasons. Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic last week adopted a new Regulation on driving licenses based on the recommendation of the Ombudsman Act considering the appearance of people in photographs of this document.

Specifically, the Ombudsman positively resolved the complaint of the three Croatian female citizens of Muslim faith, based on the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee in 2011 considering the case of Sikh Ranjit Singh in France. It was then found that France had violated the rights of of freedom of religion Ranjit Singh demanding that he should be on the identification document with no turban. France failed to explain how the turban disturbed the person’s identification, since the Sikhs wear them constantly and do not cover their faces, neither was able to explain the connection between the turban and the possible risks of fraud and falsifying documents, stated the Croatian Office of the Ombudsman. Such solutions are adopted in other European Union countries, too.

In addition, Ombudsman’s office says that it should be clearly stated which parts of the human face, which exact details are significant for identification and how much do the way the people dress and cover their head (not by niqab or burqa) on the daily basis, reduces the possibility of identification of the person who wears it, and especially in how it relates to her age. Some recent research has shown that, for example, a more important role in the recognition of the eyes have eyebrows.

Internal facial features (eyes, nose, …) and external (hair and jaw) facial features also play a significant role. Headscarves worn by some senior and young Muslims prevents the perception of certain external elements such as hair, but in this case the headscarf actually represents the external feature of the person, states the Office of the Ombudsman in Zagreb.