CALLING THE HOUSE TO ORDER

Our essay CALLING THE HOUSE TO ORDER (see link in the opening page) published online in July 2017 was presented by Colonel-Maitre® Drapeau at the 30th annual conference of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law in San Francisco, California on July 8-13, 2017. It concluded that it is the duty of the Legislature  to be vigilant and not cede control of our armed forces to the military, allowing it to operate in a vacuum, as it currently does, in accordance with their own ethos and concepts. It called upon Parliament to reform the military criminal justice system which so often fails our men and women in uniform and whose compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is questionable..

Contrast this absence of resolve with the recent decision of the United Kingdom government to review its own Armed Forces Act 2006. The aim is for the service justice system to mirror, where possible, the provisions of the civilian criminal justice system particularly how it deals with serious offences committed by members of the armed forces. It includes the question whether the courts martial system should be brought into line with the civil courts and give the accused the right, in serious cases, to be tried by jury with a judge replacing the present hierarchical military court system.

Because the time was right for an independent in-depth look at the military justice system, already a debate on that issue has taken place in the House of Lords. For instance, on October 23, 2017 (Volume 785) Lord Thomas of Gresford asked about U.K. adherence to the United Nations’ 2006 Decaux Principles which call on States to ensure that the jurisdiction of military tribunals is limited to military offences committed by active members of the military. This protects an individual’s ordinary rights to fair trial and due process. According to Lord Thomas, for military tribunals to try civil cases, is inconsistent with Principle 8 of the Decaux Principles: military courts may try military personnel only for offences of a strictly military matter?

Wish our very own government would follow the U.K. lead by leading a Parliamentary review of the construct and modus operandi of our own military justice system.

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