Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Morocco follows through on reforms

Morocco enacted military justice reform legislation in 2015 forbidding the trial of civilians in military courts. There was a question, however, what the country would do with past or pending cases. Now the Court of Cassation has ordered new civilian trial for 24 Polisario Front civilians who were sentenced in 2013 to 20 years in jail for offenses committed at Gdim Izeik. Details here, en français.

Can you argue an appeal without access to the record of trial?

How can a lawyer argue an appeal without access to the record of trial? That question is posed in three military court capital cases pending before the Peshawar High Court, in Pakistan? From this report in The International News:
“The non-availability of the record to the lawyers of the convicts is against Article 10-A of Constitution about fair trial,” argued Ghulam Mohiuddin Malik, counsel for Muhammad Tayyab who was awarded death sentence by a military court on terrorism charges. 
The deputy attorney general, who appeared in the cases, opposed the request by the lawyers for providing the case record to the lawyers. He said these were secret and sensitive documents that could be provided to the judges for inspection in appeals against convictions. 
The bench asked the lawyers to go through the detailed judgment of Supreme Court about the military courts and inform the court if there is any direction regarding provision of the case records to counsels for the convicts. 
The court rejected the request by the deputy attorney general to declare the proceedings of the cases as in-camera. “How can we declare the proceedings of an open court as in-camera?” Justice Roohul Amin Khan observed. The court extended the stay order on suspension of death sentence to the three militants till the next hearing of these cases and until court’s decision whether the record of the cases would be provided to the lawyers of the convicts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Victims' rights in Mexican military justice

With the introduction of new military justice legislation, Mexico has aligned victims' rights in courts-martial with those enjoyed in civilian courts. Here is a summary, in Spanish.

Military Police Investigation conducts a Public Interest Investigation into alleged mistreatment of Afghan detainees


ANONYMOUS COMPLAINT OF MISCONDUCT AGAINST MPs. In February 2015, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) received an anonymous complaint.  The complainant alleges that between December 2010 and January 2011 the Commanding Officer of the Joint Task Force Afghanistan Military Police Company stationed at Kandahar Airfield ran exercises in unoccupied detention cells neighboring cells containing detainees, in order to “terrorize” the detainees.  The complainant further alleges that at one point, at least one exercise was conducted in cells occupied by detainees.  According to the complaint, MP members were said to have entered the cells in the middle of the night, carrying weapons and other police equipment, and to have pressed detainees against the wall and on the floor and applied arm locks.  

The complaint letter goes on to allege the uniformed National Investigation Service (NIS) conducted an investigation in order to bring serious charges against the MP Commanding Officer but did not lay any charges.  

Instead, charges were allegedly provided to the Canadian Task Force Commander who, according to the complainant, ignored them.  Finally, the complainant alleges that in October 2012, a lieutenant-colonel in the MP chain of command was tasked to conduct an investigation into the events; however, despite these various investigations, no court martial or charges resulted.  

The letter provides the ranks and surnames of five “reference persons”.

PUBLIC INTEREST INVESTIGATION

Pursuant to subparagraph 250.21(2)(c)(i) of the National Defence Act,  the MPCC notified the Provost Marshal and requested additional information about the matters raised in the complaint. Given the seriousness of the allegations and the gravity of the underlying events, on November 4, 2015, the Chair MPCC advised the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Judge Advocate General and the Provost Marshall of her decision, pursuant to sub-section 250.38.(3) of the National Defence Act, to conduct a Public Interest Investigation (PII) into these allegations. She notes:

The allegation that the Military Police may have been involved in covering-up misconduct on the part of MP or other CAF members is a very grave one that goes to the heart of the MPCC’s mandate to ensure accountability for the MP and to foster public confidence in the availability of a suitable independent mechanism to investigate alleged misconduct.”

Considering the totality of the context and public interest factors, I conclude that the most appropriate way to ensure that this matter is investigated to the satisfaction of the public is to cause the MPCC to conduct the investigation.  A Public Interest Investigation will allow the Commission to conduct a thorough investigation in order to shed light on the events and ensure no doubts remain at the end of the complaints process.  The subsequent publication of the MPCC’s findings and recommendations will help ensure the highest standards of accountability and transparency for the Military Police, thereby contributing to the preservation or perhaps restoration of public confidence.  

WAY AHEAD

Relevant materials are current being examined by the MPCC which has yet to determine the scope of the PII and identify the subjects of the complaints. 

Updates on the progress of the investigation will be posted as they become available.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Life sentence for PLA general

Shanghai Daily reports:
A Chinese military court yesterday sentenced Guo Boxiong, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, to life in prison for accepting bribes. 
Guo was also deprived of his political rights for life and stripped of his rank of general. His personal assets were seized, and all his illicit gains were confiscated and turned over to the state treasury. 
Guo pleaded guilty and decided not to appeal, according to a statement issued by the military court after the trial. 
The military court heard that Guo had taken advantage of his position to assist the promotion and reassignment of others, and had accepted huge amounts in bribes both personally and in collusion with others. 
Guo’s bribes were “extremely huge” and his crimes were “extremely serious.” However, he confessed, owned up to his misdeeds, repented in good faith, and all the proceeds of his crimes have been recovered, the statement read. 
The court carried out a closed-door trial as military secrets were involved. The trial has been conducted in a fair and independent manner, and its verdict could be tested by the law and time, the statement said. After accepting the case, the military court formed a collegial panel for the trial, sent a copy of the indictment to Guo and informed him of his rights and obligations in litigation. 
The defense counsel met with Guo and reviewed all the case files. 
Before the trial, the court convened a meeting with the prosecutors, defendant and defence counsel to hear opinions and review evidence. 
During the trial, the court conducted investigation into the alleged crimes, and the prosecution and defense adduced and cross-examined the evidence. 
The military court has fully safeguarded various litigation rights of Guo and his defense counsel in accordance with law, it added. As for others implicated in Guo’s case, the military court will deal with them in accordance with the law and announce verdicts, the statement said.
Sounds like a perfect trial, right? Query: why was the entire trial conducted behind closed doors? What's secret about bribery or corrupting the promotion process?