Thursday, April 13, 2006

Privacy and open courtrooms

I was interviewed yesterday by a reporter from the Regina Leader Post about privacy and open courtrooms. The issue has come to the fore in the province of Saskatchewan as a result of the trial of a former football player who is charged with aggravated sexual assault. He is alleged to have had unprotected sex with a number of women without revealing that he is HIV positive.

Vanity quote:

Smith case takes another step :

While proceedings in Canada's court system are usually open to the public and media, exceptions -- while rare -- are certainly not unheard of, said David T.S. Fraser, a Nova Scotia lawyer who specializes in Canadian privacy law.

'The rights in our charter are not absolute,' he said. 'They're all subject to reasonable limitations that are compatible with the democratic and generally open society, and that's the sort of question the judge has to ask and answer.'

Fraser said there is a very strong precedent to close courts in particular circumstances. In addition to cases involving confidential medical information, public access to trials is most often restricted in cases that involve victims of sexual assault, children and national security issues.

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