Military sex offenses should be fully within the jurisdiction of civilian criminal courts: former Supreme Court justice
Announcing the release of a final report into the sexual misconduct of the Canadian military, former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbor said the military should abolish performance-based promotion structures and systems that nurture sexualized culture.
At a press conference on May 30, Arbor announced the results of more than a year of work with 48 recommendations to change military culture and the approach to sexual misconduct. Among its recommendations is the need to bring military sexual offenses under the exclusive jurisdiction of civilian criminal courts, as was the case before the military was given jurisdiction to investigate its own sexual assault cases in 1998.
“Military justice rests on the need to…enhance the effectiveness, discipline and morale of the armed forces,” Arbor said.
“The treatment of sexual offenses by military tribunals over the past 20 years has done little to improve efficiency, discipline and morale – on the contrary, it has served to erode it. Therefore, I see no reason for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to retain jurisdiction over sexual offences. And this competence should be entrusted exclusively to the civil authorities as long as the concurrent competence remains. »
On April 29, 2021, Arbor was commissioned to lead an independent external review into sexual misconduct and harassment in the CAF and the Department of National Defence. Although the final report has been delivered, it will not be released until mid-June this year.
Arbor said that because of the long-standing problem of under-reporting, she also recommends removing the requirement for CAF members to report sexual assaults – an obligation that falls on victims and bystanders – which, according to it, had only served to “impose additional hardship on the victims while posing moral dilemmas for those who want to respect their wishes.
She also recommends that victims of sexual misconduct have easier access to external resources such as the Canadian Human Rights Commission tribunal and those available from the Sexual Misconduct Resource Centre.
Additionally, Arbor recommends changing the military’s performance-based appraisal and promotions, which she says “is not conducive to accelerating women’s rise to leadership positions.” .
“I have made detailed recommendations on the performance appraisal and caste promotion system, which in my opinion places too much emphasis on performance and not enough on conduct and character,” he said. she declared.
At the May 30 press conference, Defense Minister Anita Anand said she had started implementing 17 recommendations made by Arbor and was to brief Parliament by the end of the year. if any of the recommendations are not implemented.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.