Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Darryl Watts
CTV News reports: The Canadian Forces says it will not challenge an appeal court ruling that overturned a Calgary soldier's conviction in a fatal training accident in Afghanistan.  The decision on a new trial is pending.

Similar issues arise in the U.S. when an appeals court overturns a conviction on legal error.  Some of the factors a U.S. convening authority considers are the views of any victim(s), the practical ability to reassemble the witnesses, and the strength of the case.

Interestingly (as of 2007), 
More active members of the military died during two years of peacetime in the early 1980s than died during a two-year period of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a government report.  ABC News reports that, "As an accident during a training bombing run today left six people dead in Kuwait, it may seem like the U.S. military has suffered an unusual number of fatal mishaps in recent months. But military statistics indicate serious accidents have been running at about their normal rate, and they have been generally decreasing over the past two decades

U.S. non-combat military personnel may claim asylum in the EU

Gene noted earlier Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston concluded that non-combat military personnel may claim asylum in the EU, under European human rights legislation.  Just Security has a useful summary of that opinion here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Convening authority refuses to dissolve panel in indelible indelible ink case

Major Zaidi Ahmad, RMAF
The convening authority in the indelible ink case of Royal Malaysian Air Force Major Zaidi Ahmad has refused to dissolve the panel despite evidence that the senior member of the court had expressed an opinion about the charges on Facebook. Major Zaidi's attorney is poised to take the matter to the civilian High Court. Details here.

Constitutional fight brewing over military courts in Thailand

A fight is brewing, according to this article, over the constitutionality of the Thai military courts. The argument is that the martial law charter preserves the country's treaty obligations, and since the country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, citizens continue to enjoy the right to independent and impartial courts. Worajet Phakhirat, a law professor, argues that "the military court is under [the] control of the Defence Ministry and its trial under the martial law will be [a] one-court ruling." 

NGOs oppose Colombian bills

Seventeen NGOs have come out in opposition to pending Colombian military justice legislation, according to this article in El Tiempo:
"We note with deep concern the renewed legislative efforts of the Colombian government that would deny justice for human rights abuses including the extrajudicial executions committed by members of the security forces," say the NGOs, which include Amnesty International, Wola, the Robert Kennedy Center for Human Rights and the Working Group for Latin America (LAWG).
The signers refer in particular to Bills 085 and 022, which are currently pending in the House and Senate.
The first, say NGOs, requires that murder allegedly committed by a member of the security forces be tried by a military tribunal.
"Since cases of extrajudicial executions, including those known as 'false positives,' have been charged as homicides in the past, the adoption of this bill makes it likely that such crimes will be tried by military courts, which have often failed to deliver justice for human rights abuses committed by members of the security forces," the statement contends.
It added that the UN has warned in the past that the adoption of such a reform would represent a significant setback to efforts by Colombia to comply with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights.
The second (Bill 022, 2014 Senate) seeks to amend the Constitution so that "violations" of international humanitarian law and crimes committed by active duty members are tried by military courts, with the exception of crimes against humanity, genocide, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, forced disappearance, torture and forced displacement. [Rough Google translation]