It is not exactly unknown for the magistrates courts to have, on occasions, an inexact knowledge of the law. If some of them have been in the practice of barring news reporters from their sittings in contraventions of the rules, as we report today, it was presumably done in good faith. No doubt the intention was to protect young offenders from what some court officials regard as the prying eyes of the press. But the magistrates should be reassured that no harm will result from a more open courtroom. Under the Juvenile system, young offenders cannot be identified. In normal circumstances, that is all the protection from the press that they require. Magistrates can still use discretion in barring reporters when they can show that this is justified. Otherwise, the presence of reporters is a positive advantage to the defendant in any type of court. It can help to ensure that they have a fair trial, and receive an appropriate sentence since any shortcomings in that respect will be made public. The punishment handed out to juveniles has become an area of concern for lawyers in recent months. Some have become alarmed at a succession of harsh penalties including, it is claimed, unnecessary imprisonment. Hong Kong's jails are already overcrowded, and inevitably bring young people into contact with bad company. The debate about the best way to treat young offenders is endless, but surveys show that they have a higher chance of mending their ways if they are kept out of the prison system and made to pay for their crimes by other means. This is an area which should not be hidden from public view or obscured from open debate. Reforms to promote open justice have been identified and introduced in the past two years. Greater public access and more accountability strengthens the work of the judiciary and heightens confidence in the impartial rule of law. Hong Kong can only benefit from justice being seen to be done throughout the system. Open courts are an important element in achieving that.