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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Just Posted

Photographer Eiko Jones delivered the 11th Annual Haig Brown lecture at Tidemark Theatre

Jones also screened his newly completed movie Heartbeat of the River at the event

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

Float-plane crash near Oyster River leaves pilot injured

The plane crashed shortly after take-off from a private property and had no other passengers on board

Follow the frog: Greenways Loop signed for Go By Bike event

On Oct. 3, dress in green and get out on the newly-signed Greenways Loop

NDP solution to homelessness is to ‘warehouse’ people: BC Liberal leader

Andrew Wilkinson made a campaign stop in Campbell River and was asked about homelessness

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Search suspended for Indigenous elder last seen mushroom picking in northwest B.C.

Mushroom picker Thomas (Tommy) Dennis has been missing since Sept. 16

16 MLAs retiring from B.C. politics add up to $20M in pensions: Taxpayers Federation

Taxpayers pay $4 for every dollar MLAs contribute to their pensions

Most Read