Saskatchewan’s justice minister isn’t ruling out changes to legislation in response to a new policy by the Regina Police Service on holding back the names of murder victims.
Don Morgan says he first wants to hold more discussions with Chief Evan Bray before looking at changing the law.
Morgan says he’s not holding that out as a threat, but says Bray should have a careful look at the policy, have another meeting with the privacy commissioner and review his policy.
The policy allows Bray to hold back names of murder victims from the public on a case-by-case basis.
Morgan argues names should be released except in rare cases, like pending next-of-kin notification or if it would compromise an ongoing investigation.
Privacy Commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski says that regardless of which direction is taken, it still ends up being a case-by-case determination, noting a policy that’s drafted either way could end up with the same result.
“If you say names will be released unless A, B, C, D or you say names will not be released except in the following circumstances A, B, C, D, I think you’ve hit the same thing,” he said.
The policy is the result of an interpretation of the Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act which came into effect on Jan. 1.
Police will only release names in situations where it will help an investigation, to protect someone’s health or safety, after the first court appearance of someone charged in the crime or if it’s in the public interest.
Kruzeniski explained charges are laid in the majority of murder cases and when that happens, the name of the victim is made public through the courts.
Morgan said he believes police should err by giving too much information rather than too little. He said if something happens in a neighbourhood, residents should know and use that information to protect themselves.
Morgan said he doesn’t believe a family member should have the ability to keep the name of their murdered relative from being made public.
“I can understand the sensitivity around those family members. I can understand how they might feel but I think the interest of the public should be paramount and should take priority.”