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Publication Bans

When a publication ban is ordered, the court prohibits the publication and broadcasting of specific information.

Publication bans can prohibit the publication, broadcast or transmission of evidence and arguments heard at bail hearings or preliminary hearings as well as the identity of victims, in certain circumstances.

It is essential to our justice system that criminal cases be tried in open court. The public and media who attend court will hear and see the witnesses and the accused and will hear the entire court proceeding. There are some relatively rare cases, however, where a judge will prohibit the publication and broadcasting of specific information. In ordering a publication ban a judge must balance the rights of the public to know with the necessity of protecting the privacy and safety of some vulnerable victims and witnesses.

If requested, a judge must order a publication ban to protect the identity of victims and witnesses of sexual offences who are younger than 18 years old. Other victims and witnesses may apply for similar bans and the Criminal Code sets out the factors the judge must consider when deciding whether to order a ban in those cases. For more information, see section 486.5(7) of The Criminal Code.

Crown counsel usually make the applications for bans on publication with respect to victims and witnesses. There are a number of other kinds of bans on publication, such as bans on the publication of the names of young people charged with offences and bans on the publication of evidence and information provided to the court on bail hearings or preliminary inquiries.

Important Reading

Department of Justice Canada fact sheet on Publication Bans.

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