Singh v. France
Human Rights Committee
Communication No. 1852/2008
1 November 2012
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, arts. 2 (non-discrimination), 17 (unlawful or arbitrary interference with privacy), 18 (freedom of religion), 26 (equality before the law)
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
Mr. Singh (the author) was attending a public secondary school when Act No. 2004-228 came into force in France. The Act prohibits the wearing of symbols and clothing manifesting religious affiliation in public schools, subject to certain limitations, with the aim of ensuring a secular public environment. Mr. Singh, who wore the keski to cover his uncut hair and as an expression of his Sikh faith, was removed from classes and subsequently expelled from the school for refusing to uncover his hair. He alleged that the State had discriminated against him and violated his right to freedom of religion.
The Human Rights Committee (the Committee) found that preventing the author from wearing the keski interfered with the exercise of his religion, something the State did not deny. In deciding that the interference with the author’s religious freedom violated article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Committee found that the State had not provided compelling evidence that in the specific case in hand the wearing of the keski posed a threat to the rights and freedoms of other pupils. The Committee also found that in any regard, the permanent expulsion of Mr. Singh from public school was disproportionate to the stated aims, namely the need to respect the religious freedom and the physical safety of pupils in State schools.
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