Sexual assaults crimes should be tried by civilian tribunals?

August 14, 2014. A General Court Martial is currently taking place in Quebec City following allegations of sexual assault levelled against Warrant Officer André Gagnon by Stephanie Raymond. The sexual assault would have taken in the Armoury of the Regiment de la Chaudière (Lévis, Québec) on December 15, 2011. Changes to the National Defence Act in 1998 gave the military jurisdiction over sexual assaults.

The General Court Martial is composed of a military judge and a panel of five “jurors”. These jurors are military officers and warrant officers. All males.  The remaining officers of the court: the prosecutors, the defense attorney, the Officer of the Court and the Court reporter are also members of the military. The trial is also conducted pursuant to the Military Rules of Evidence and in accordance with a military protocol.

Retired Colonel Michel Drapeau is interviewed on CBC Radio on August 14, 2014 on reforms to the military justice system. (See link below) He argues that such crimes against the person are not ‘military’ offences and should be tried by a common law (civilian) tribunal. He also argues that military tribunals should be restricted to tried “disciplinary offences” as enumerated in the Code of Service Discipline contained in the National Defence Act.


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