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Australia's New South Wales premier reveals details of Burka removal laws

(Xinhua)

16:48, August 19, 2011

SYDNEY, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Australia's New South Wales (NSW) Premier Barry O'Farrell on Friday revealed details of new laws allowing the state police to demand the removal of face coverings for identification.

Under changes to the Law Enforcement Act, police can require anyone to remove a face covering - including a helmet, burka, niqab or mask, for the purpose of making a clear identification.

Those who refuse will face penalties ranging from a 220 AU dollars (228 U.S. dollars fine to 12 months in jail.

The change was prompted by the case of Carnita Matthews, a Sydney woman who won her appeal against a jail sentence for falsely accusing a policeman of trying to forcibly remove her burka.

The NSW ombudsman will conduct a review of the new laws after 12 months.

"I have every respect for different religions and beliefs but, when it comes to enforcing the law, the police should be given adequate powers to make a clear identification," O'Farrell said as he announced details of the new laws on Friday.

"Our message to people is clear. When asked to provide proper identification, comply with the request to remove any face covering or face tough penalties," he said.

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