Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Civil-military relations in South Africa

What happens when South African civilian authorities press charges against military officers for, among other things, threatening to bulldoze a police station after the police arrest a group of soldiers at an unlicensed bar -- and two of the soldiers' officers refuse to appear in civilian court? Read all about it here.

Monday, January 26, 2015

U.S. Marshals Service investigating gaps in sex offender registration

A Scripps News Service investigative report has prompted the U.S. Marshals Service to open an investigation into gaps in the sex offender registration system as it applies to military convictions. Details here.

Two-member bench of Pakistan Supreme Court revives long-pending attack on court-martial system

Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja
A two-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan has revived a case that had been in abeyance, apparently for lack of prosecution, challenging aspects of the court-martial system. PT has the story here:
The Supreme Court (SC) has restored the petitions for hearings, which were filed against court martial procedures and rejected by the apex court in January 2013.
The court has ordered that the petition for these hearings be fixed within two weeks despite government’s opposition.
A two-member bench of the SC, presided over by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, took up the petition filed by Col (r) Akram for hearing on Monday. Akram had filed this petition in 2010, however it was dismissed after it was not contested in January 2013. The court has restored this petition for hearing.
Akram had argued that the charge-sheet carrying the allegations is not served to the accused during a court martial and he even does not know what he is being convicted for and what he is being punished for. The accused is not even provided access to the record, while the facility provided to the accused for filing an appeal against the conviction is equal to nil.
The Deputy Attorney General (DAG) opposed the petitions on behalf of the federal government saying that the court has already rejected these applications because it had not been persuaded by them earlier. The law does not allow for restoration of these petitions after one year.
The court remarked that the matter is crucial, therefore it would hear it.
This action suggests that the Court will also be attentive to the recent flurry of petitions attacking the expansion of military court jurisdiction under the 21st Amendment and related changes to the Army Act.

Former U.S. Army trial counsel convicted of rape and other offenses

A former U.S. Army military prosecutor has been convicted of rape and other offenses in a general court-martial conducted at Ft. Bragg. The AP has the story here. Of interest to those concerned with transparency in the administration of justice are these paragraphs:
The statement emailed to news media outlets on Monday was the first issued by the Army about the case and provided no details about the crimes for which Burris was convicted, the number of victims or whether they included other military personnel.
Past dockets listing scheduled courtroom proceedings at Fort Bragg in recent days are no longer available online, making it unclear what, if any, public notice was provided in advance of [Major Erik J.] Burris' trial. Non-military personnel cannot access the sprawling North Carolina base or its federal courthouse without approval.
Major Burris was sentenced to 20 years' confinement, a dismissal and total forfeitures. 

Russian soldiers in Armenia: who shall dispense justice?

Armenian News is running this report on the continued uncertainty over whether Russia or Armenia will try the Russian soldier who is suspected of having killed six Armenian civilians. The article refers to earlier cases in which Armenia tried Russian soldiers who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms only to be repatriated and freed within a few years.