Attorney General and Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab issued a ministerial directive today, Dec. 17, to clarify the use of Rehtaeh Parsons’s name under the existing publication ban.
The directive, issued to the Public Prosecution Service, says no breach of the ban identifying Rehtaeh Parsons as the victim in the recent high-profile child pornography case, by media, or in any forum, will be prosecuted, unless her name is used in a derogatory way.
“The intent of this directive is to make it clear that the respectful use of Rehtaeh’s name will not be prosecuted,” said Ms. Diab. “This decision wasn’t made lightly. I carefully considered the original intent of the law to protect victims, and I listened to the views of Rehtaeh’s parents, supporters, legal experts and Nova Scotians. This directive strikes the right balance.”
The directive clarifies the position the Public Prosecution Service has taken in providing advice to police, who have investigated a number of complaints since the ban was imposed in May. If the victim’s name is used in a derogatory way, without respect, the director of public prosecutions can proceed with prosecuting a publication ban violation.
“Consultations with the attorney general have resulted in a directive which provides the public with a better understanding of those situations where prosecutorial discretion will be exercised to deal with publication ban breaches,” said Martin Herschorn, director of public prosecutions. “Clarity was needed, and that’s what this directive does.”
Ms. Diab said it is important for the public to discuss issues in society that affect teens.
“I want Nova Scotians to talk about the important issues surrounding Rehtaeh’s case,” said Ms. Diab. “The publication ban was not intended to hinder those discussions. Educating teens and parents and raising awareness is part of Rehtaeh’s legacy and that should continue.”
The directive and a plain language explanation are available online at www.novascotia.ca/pps/ .