A publication ban prohibits the publication of the name – or picture – of the girl killed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary in November 2016.

Black Press Media challenges publication ban on name of B.C. school stabbing victim

Victim’s family feels ‘muzzled’ by ban implemented by BC Review Board without consultation

The media should be able to identify the girl killed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary two years ago, Black Press Media has argued in an application sent to the BC Review Board.

The application, which was sent last week by the Abbotsford News, has been welcomed by a representative for the girl’s family, who have said through a spokesperson that they feel the ban limits their ability to share their daughter’s story. The News has not applied to lift a publication ban in effect on the identity of a second person wounded at the school.

The two students were stabbed in November 2016. Their attacker was quickly identified and arrested, but has since been declared unfit to stand trial by the BC Review Board. A publication ban was placed without notice on the murder victim’s name when the case moved from criminal court to the Review Board, which periodically reconsiders whether the accused is fit to stand trial.

In the application, which was sent by reporter Tyler Olsen and crafted with the assistance of legal counsel, The News argues that the ban contravenes the “open court principle” that presupposes courtrooms should be open to the public and information reportable.

Under the principle, courts should be open to the public unless doing so would jeopardize administration of justice or compromise the rights of the interested parties and public.

“While publication bans are sometimes necessary, it’s important that the media fight to uphold the open court principle,” Ken Goudswaard, the editor of The News said. “That principle allows the public to better understand their justice system, and the media to hold accountable those involved in the process.”

There is no such reason to ban publication of the victim’s name, and no application was made to institute the ban in the first place, the News argued, pointing to legal precedent.

The application also argues that the BC Review Board doesn’t have jurisdiction to institute publication bans on the identity of victims and that, even if it did, it had an obligation to give media outlets advanced knowledge that it intended to implement such a prohibition.

Finally, The News notes that a publication ban on a victim’s name inevitably shifts the focus of news coverage towards the accused. At the same time, media scholars and victim rights groups have argued in recent years that coverage of mass-casualty events like school shootings should focus on victims, rather than the perpetrators. Widespread use of publication bans, The News argues, would make such an approach difficult, if not impossible.

The application was welcomed by Dave Teixeira, who has been acting as a spokesperson for the family. In September, he said the publication ban was “muzzling” the girl’s parents, who dislike the fact that coverage of the case has been dominated by the name of the accused, rather than that of their daughter.

RELATED: Advocate for Abbotsford victim’s family blasts ‘secretive’ B.C. Review Board

RELATED: Man charged in Abbotsford school stabbing found unfit to stand trial


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Port Hardy RCMP release tips to prevent fraud and theft from vehicles

In many of the incidents reported, “the vehicles that were broken into were unlocked.”

Stranded hikers rescued by helicopter on Mt. Schoen

Campbell River Search and Rescue used hoist operation to rescue trio

Coroner’s inquest into fatal police shooting in Port Hardy begins in Campbell River

James Reginald Butters, 24, killed in 2015 after RCMP responded to call of male uttering threats

Forest fire 1.5 km from Sara Lake listed as out of control

While the fire is classified as out of control, they expect it to be under control imminently.

Trudeau vows to stand firm against ‘increasingly assertive’ China

China has accused Canada of meddling in its affairs

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

$5-million lotto ticket sold in Nanaimo

Someone matched all six numbers in Wednesday’s 6/49 draw

B.C. man tells judge he attempted suicide a month before daughters’ murders

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

BREAKING: Province approves Surrey police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights city’s municipal police force

Most Read