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C 137 E/104 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

there is now regular consular access. As it is normal in such cases, the matter is being handled bilaterally
by the British authorities. The Commission Delegation in Cairo and other Member State embassies are kept
fully informed.

(2003/C 137 E/117) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2663/02


by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Commission

(23 September 2002)

Subject: Discrimination by French authorities

Is the Commission aware of the discrimination against Sikhs in France, whereby identification photographs
are not accepted should a Sikh be wearing a turban on his head? Does this Commission find this practice
by the French authorities acceptable?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(25 October 2002)

The rules concerning the way in which identification photographs must be taken are a matter of national
competence of each Member State. Although Community law provides for the issue of residence cards to
Union nationals and to the members of their families whichever their nationality, it does not refer to
identification photographs which are regulated by national measures.

However, the Commission remarks that the purpose of identification photographs is to permit a quick and
clear identification of the person in question. This may require on the part of Member States the
application of specific guidelines on the use of items such as the turbans worn by the Sikhs to which the
honourable Member refers to.

When laying down such guidelines Member States should ensure the balance between legitimate public
order and public safety requirements and the right to freedom of religion. This right is enshrined in the
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and in the European Convention on Human Rights
(ECHR), wich has been ratified by all Member States. Any limitations thereto should respect article 9(2) of
the Convention which reads as follows:

Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief shall be subject to such limitations as are prescribed by
law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of
public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Should the Sikhs consider that the French administrative instructions concerning identification photo-
graphs are in violation of the ECHR, they should appeal to the European Court of Human Rights once all
possibilities of domestic appeal have been exhausted and within six months of the final ruling by a
national court.

(2003/C 137 E/118) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2665/02


by Robert Goebbels (PSE) to the Commission

(23 September 2002)

Subject: The Commission’s services in Luxembourg

In reply to my question E-1226/02 (1) on the location of the Commission’s public health departments,
Commissioner Kinnock stated on 9 July 2002 that ‘it has proved to be difficult to attract suitably qualified
staff to vacant permanent posts in the public health directorate in Luxembourg’.