A reporter from the Toronto Star sought access to confidential pre-sentence reports and a victim impact statement contained in youth court records. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, access to the records can only be granted by order of a Youth Justice Court.
None of the young persons affected could afford legal representation and JFCY was appointed “amicus curiae” or a “friend of the court” to give submissions to the court from a child and youth rights perspective.
While the decision of the court recognized that youth courts are open courts, it also affirmed that the protection of privacy of young persons under the YCJA is inextricably connected to their rehabilitation and that this protection fosters respect for dignity, personal integrity and autonomy of the young person, which is consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (contained in the preamble of the YCJA).
In denying access to the Toronto Star, the court found, among other things, that the rights of the press have been impaired no more than is necessary in this case and that public access and public accountability have been preserved as the reporter was free to be in the courtroom, observe the proceedings and report on all aspects of the proceedings (para 86).