Armed Forces Officials Acknowledge Lack Of Confidence In Military Justice System

Acknowledging a lack of public confidence in the military justice system, the military police and prosecution chiefs provided some details on Friday about this week’s major decision to return all cases of sexual misconduct to the civilian system.

However, it remains to be seen when this change will occur.

“We … believe that it is now appropriate and necessary to put more emphasis on the investigation and civil prosecution of sexual assault and other criminal offenses of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code,” said a statement released Friday after- noon by Provost Marshal Brig.-Gen. Simon Trudeau, who commands the military police, and Colonel Dylan Kerr, the director of military prosecutions.

“Canadians can rest assured that the military justice system is ready to act when the civilian criminal justice system is unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction in these matters.”

Friday’s statement follows an announcement Thursday by new Defense Minister Anita Anand, who said she had accepted independent recommendations to transfer cases of military sexual misconduct to the civilian system given the growing crisis. sexual misconduct in the armed forces.

Those interim recommendations came from retired Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor, who is currently undertaking an external review of military sexual misconduct and is expected to deliver her final report next spring.

The Canadian military has been rocked by a crisis of sexual misconduct this year, with a number of current and former senior leaders being investigated or charged.

Military police will contact the victims in the coming days to explain the transition process, the statement said.

“We all recognize that allegations of sexual misconduct against senior leaders have had a detrimental effect on the credibility of the CAF and the morale of its members,” the statement said on Friday.

The provost marshal’s office said it has started work on policy directives to be issued to military police to “prioritize the exercise of civilian jurisdiction over the investigation of sexual assault” and other criminal sexual offenses.

“We will engage in conversation with our civilian counterparts to develop workable processes and effective practices with them,” the statement said.

Trudeau will also “leverage” his role as a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to communicate the new policy “and ensure a smooth transition,” the statement said.

“Military police commanders will complement these efforts at their level to find the best ways to interact with local law enforcement,” the statement said.

The Director of Military Prosecutions has already started working with his civilian counterparts to “establish a set of principles” for cases to be prosecuted in the civilian system.

“We recognize the current crisis of public confidence in the military justice system, particularly with respect to allegations of sexual misconduct,” the statement said on Friday.

“While military police investigators and military prosecutors possess the professional skills, dedication and skills necessary to investigate and prosecute criminal and disciplinary offenses, we recognize that this has not been sufficient to build and maintain trust in the military justice system. ”

In a letter sent Oct. 20 to Anand’s ailing predecessor Harjit Sajjan – just days before he was dismissed from his post – Arbor said the current crisis “has led me to conclude that corrective action immediate steps are needed to begin to restore confidence in the (Canadian Armed Forces.) ”

She recommended that cases of sexual misconduct be immediately referred to the civilian system, following a recommendation made this year by retired Supreme Court Judge Morris Fish in an independent review of the military justice system.

This transition is expected to include cases currently under investigation by military police unless it is nearing completion, Arbor said.

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