Monday, July 28, 2014

More on the Moroccan reforms

Telquel has an informative article about the military justice reforms recently passed by the Moroccan House of Representatives. In addition to pressure from NGOs, the legislation seems to have been sparked by the military trial of 20 Sahrawis in the Gdeim Izik case.

Another Venezuelan military trial involving a retired officer

Gen (ret) José Aquiles Vietri Vietri
Once again, Venezuela is employing a military court to prosecute a retired officer. In the latest case, retired General José Aquiles Vietri Vietri is to stand trial for incitement to rebellion. Details appear in this article from Ultimas Noticias. According to another article he retired in 2006.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Will Brazil finally have to implement alternative service?

Portal Bragança has a lengthy article about a case in which the Brazilian Supreme Court concerning alternative national service for conscientious objectors. Very few Brazilians claim conscientious objection, and those who do are apparently simply released from military service rather than having to perform alternative service. According to the article:
The Federal Supreme Court (STF) must, in the coming months, give the final word on implementation of alternative service to military service for Brazilians who claim political, philosophical or religious reasons for being exempt from barracks activities when they turn 18. The "imperative of conscience" is a right established by the Constitution since 1988, regulated by law since 1991, and specified in Ministerial Order since 1992, but to date has not been properly implemented.
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The prosecutors want the Army, Navy and Air Force [-- in addition to implementing alternative service --] to inform society about the right of every young person subject to mandatory service to claim conscientious objection at the time of enlistment. To do so, they say, the government should dedicate at least 30% of the advertising inserts in newspapers, radio and television, and post signs in all military recruiting stations in the country. The MPF [Federal Public Ministry] also claims that during the enlistment process, young people should be asked about possible conscientious objection that would preclude their performance of military service. [Rough Google translation.]

2014 CAAF Judicial Conference

Each year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces presents a two-day conference open to the public.  This year’s conference almost didn't happen because of budget issues, but it did. Compared to some of the previous years, the program was a good one and well received by the audience.

You can read the handouts now on CAAF.  There are some interesting items for the practitioner, as well as an overview for others of the quality of the program.

I have Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History, by Professor John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law,Yale Law School, it’s a five-star read. I recommend it alongside Stephen C. Neff’sJustice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War.  Despite the name of the book, Neff explores some of the same issue as Witt.  A review says, “An essential book for understanding America's bifurcated legal system in wartime--the criminal courts under an established jurisprudence and military commissions pursuant to the law of war. Indeed, many issues Neff examines--sovereignty, detention, civil liberties in wartime--are relevant today.”

Where will these charges be tried?

Justice Minister Andrea Orlando
The Daily Beast has this account of allegations of rape and other offenses against two members of the U.S. military stationed in Italy. One of the suspects was already under charges in another case. The question now is whether the Italian government will resist turning the men over to the U.S. for trial in accordance with the governing NATO Status of Forces Agreement or prosecute the case itself in the Italian courts. The article reports resentment over repeated misconduct by U.S. personnel, reminiscent of local friction in Okinawa.

The article is less than clear about how the SOFA actually functions. We find this in Article 7(3)(c):
If the State having the primary right decides not to exercise jurisdiction, it shall notify the authorities of the other State as soon as practicable. The authorities of the State having the primary right shall give sympathetic consideration to a request from the authorities of the other State for a waiver of its right in cases where that other state considers such waiver to be of particular importance.
Under the NATO SOFA's concurrent jurisdiction provisions, Italian authorities can, in the end, stand their ground and prosecute these charges, the victim having been a Romanian civilian. Given the history recounted in the article, it would not be surprising if they did so.