Media Access to Refugee Proceedings in Canada

  • Marlys Edwardh
  • Daniel Brodsky

Abstract

The authors explore the mechanism adopted by Parliament to afford a refugee claimant and his or her family the protection of a qualified shield. They begin the investigation by noting that open proceedings are the general rule in Canada, and in camera hearings are the exception. The statutory provisions which allow the reversal of the open hearing rule are analyzed with particular attention to the question of which burdens must be satisfied by the person seeking a hearing that is less than open. The balancing of competing rights under the Charter of Rights is reviewed with respect to the right of the public to have access to the courts and the rights of the refugee claimant to his or her privacy, security of the person and a fair trial. The various factors taken into consideration by a court considering the exclusion of members of the public from a refugee hearing are listed, including those found in the Immigration Act. The authors conclude that the restrictions on access to refugee hearings are reasonable and can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society
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