Amnesty International slams Quebec charter for limiting 'fundamental rights'

MONTREAL – Amnesty International is wading into the debate over Quebec’s proposed charter of values.

The human rights organization says the Parti Quebecois plan would limit two fundamental rights: freedom of expression and freedom of religion.

According to the group, that means the charter would violate Canadian and international law.

The PQ plan announced earlier this month would prohibit public employees from wearing obvious religious symbols, including the hijab.

Amnesty International took issue with one of the stated goals of the charter — that it would promote equality between the sexes.

The group says the proposed law isn’t the best way to ensure women’s rights, and would only force some women to quit their jobs.

“For people, and particularly for women, who might be coerced into wearing a religious symbol, prohibiting them from wearing it will not solve the problem,” Canada’s branch of Amnesty International said in a statement.

“The people who had coerced them will still go unpunished, while the people who have been coerced will be punished in a number of ways, such as losing their jobs and hence their right to work and risking becoming isolated and stigmatized in their communities.”

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