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Acting Ombudsperson: Students must not be banned from wearing head scarves in schools

Regarding the banning from wearing head scarves in schools of Skenderaj/Srbica Municipality

“Students must not be prevented from wearing religious symbols such as head scarves in schools”, Acting Ombudsperson Mr. Hilmi Jashari stressed in an open letter sent today to Prime Minister Çeku and the Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Agim Veliu. Mr. Jashari was reacting to recent media reports suggesting that three students wearing religious head scarves had been prohibited from attending classes at a secondary school in Skenderaj/Srbica Municipality.
Imposed by the Skenderaj/Srbica Municipality’s Directorate for Education, the prohibition blatantly contravenes the protections afforded under Section 1, Article 9 of the European Convention for Human Rights (November 1950), which stipulates that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, and that “this right includes freedom…to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.
In his open letter, Mr. Jashari pointed out that the “wearing of head scarves is an example of the expression of one’s religious faith”, and that the rights afforded under Article 9 of the European Convention “can only be limited by law”.
Since the Kosovo Assembly has not adopted any law prohibiting the wearing of head scarves and other religious symbols in schools, any executive decision imposing such a ban violates both the rule of law and the rights of individuals wishing to observe religious faith.
The Acting Ombudsperson requested in his letter that the case in Skenderaj/Srbica Municipality be prioritised to ensure that “the competent Directorate for Education…permit students wearing head scarves to return to classes” and “refrain from similar human rights violations in future.”
In June 2004, the Ombudsperson Institution issued a Special Report addressing students’ right to wear religious symbols such as head scarves in schools. The Special Report can be accessed via the Ombudsperson Institution’s website at (under “Special Reports”, 2004).
The Acting Ombudsperson’s open letter to Prime Minister Çeku and Minister for Education, Science and Technology Mr. Agim Veliu is attached.
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