Friday, November 27, 2015

Reporters Without Borders complaint in Chile

Reporters Without Borders has posted this account of a controversy involving efforts by the Chilean military to problem civilian media about leaks relating to the military. Excerpt:
Reporters Without Borders accuses Chile’s military justice system of violating freedom of information by pressuring the staff of the political weekly The Clinic to reveal their sources for a series of reports about alleged corruption and embezzlement involving many army officers. 
The Clinic owner and legal representative Pablo Dittborn, publisher Patricio Fernández, editor Andrea Moletto and Mauricio Weibel, the reporter who wrote the stories, were summoned for questioning at the start of October by Rodrigo Acevedo, the military judge in charge of investigating the leaks leading to the exposure of the so-called “Milicogate” scandal. 
However, Chile’s military courts have not been empowered to investigate cases involving civilians since 2011 and, in theory, are limited to handling cases directly linked to the armed forces. 
Officially, the magazine’s owner and staff members were just questioned as witnesses but in practice they were pressured to reveal their sources. The confidentiality of the media’s sources is nonetheless guaranteed by Chile’s press law (Ley de Prensa) and by rulings on this subject issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which Chile is required to respect. 
“This violation of the confidentiality of sources and attempted intimidation by the Chilean military justice system are unacceptable and constitute a grave violation of media freedom and democracy in Chile,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Latin America bureau. “We urge the Chilean authorities to respect the press law and Chile’s international obligations.”

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Closed military trial in Algeria produces 5-year sentence

"General Hassan" was sentenced today to five years in prison following a closed military court trial. He had previously served as Algeria's chief of counter-terrorism. The charges against him were disobedience and destruction of document. Details of the case appear here.

Forthcoming reform of Chinese military courts

On the evening of November 26, Chinese official media (and the South China Morning Post) reported that Xi Jinping, Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, announced the long-expected reforms to the Chinese military at the conclusion of the Central Military Commission Work Conference.  As regular readers of this blog would know (see these earlier articles, for example), reform of the military justice system is on the agenda. The reforms call for reorganizing the military courts (and procuratorates) based on their location (the reforms call for the establish of strategic zones and joint operation command systems, to replace China's current fragmented system) to enable them to operate with more autonomy and bolster their prestige or, as the Ministry of Defense report states, "to ensure independent and impartial exercise of their functions and powers according to law." The PLA's legal function is also slated for reform. Details will be forthcoming.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

A big milestone

Global Military Justice Reform has hit another big milestone: as of a moment ago, we have had 200,000 hits. Interest in the subject seems to be growing around the world. Since our launch in January 2014, the blog has had 2156 posts (1003 so far in 2015) and 323 comments, and has been visited by readers in 161 jurisdictions.

Thanks to everyone -- contributors, commenters and readers -- who has made this possible. Please keep your posts and comments coming! (Remember, real names only.)