Publication bans difficult to adhere to nowadays
For 24 hours, newspapers, TV and radio stations were legally forbidden to release Stefanie Rengel’s name, but on the Internet tributes to the slain teen — and the names of her accused killers — sprang up almost immediately, including on the social networking site Facebook.
The Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA) prohibits the publication of a name "... if it would identify the child or young person as having been a victim of, or as having appeared as a witness in connection with, an offence committed or alleged to have been committed by a young person."
A 17-year-old boy and 15-year-old girl are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Stefanie, fatally stabbed on a sidewalk in the city’s east end on New Year’s Day.
There are some exceptions to the gag order, such as if the parents of a dead child agree to identification.
Yesterday, the Toronto Police Service issued a news release naming the teen, saying consent had been obtained. A day earlier, the family was adamant the information not be released and Staff. Insp. Brian Raybould, head of the homicide squad, cautioned reporters to respect the ban or risk going to jail.
Raybould said yesterday he was aware of the postings identifying Rengel on Facebook. But he said he wouldn’t have considered laying obstruction of justice charges unless "we had a complaint from the family."
Alain Charette, media relations spokesperson for the Department of Justice, said the restriction "does apply to the web, including Facebook ... generally publication covers a very wide spectrum."
"If it’s about a violation, it’s in police hands," he said.