Saturday, October 10, 2015

Who is a civilian?

Phil Cave beat me to the punch about the story about how Somali authorities have rejected criticisms that they are using military courts to try civilians.

What distinguishes Somali practice from the use of military commissions under the U.S.'s Military Commissions Act of 2009, Egypt's use of military courts, Pakistan's 21st Amendment courts, etc.? Are there neutral principles that permit us credibly to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate uses of military courts to try persons who are neither members of the trying state's armed forces nor combatants recognized under the Third Geneva Convention?

Somalia in the new still

Over the 18 months we've posted about various military law issues in Somalia.  Today we have a report that:

A Somali military official has dismissed allegations by the European Union that the government uses its military tribunal to prosecutes civilians.
According to a statement from the European Union, at least 29 people have been executed so far this year across Somalia by state authorities.
‘’The majority of these executions took place through the military court system. We strongly urge the Somali authorities to avoid the use of military courts in civilian cases and to ensure that due process is fully adhered to, including that proper systems of appeal are in place.’’

Courtesy of Horseed Media.

You may wonder the EU interest in Somalia;[more here]. And the EU's top military General visits Somalia, sends message to armed forces.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A soldier's inviolable domain

The Military Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court held in a recent judgment  that the bedrooms of soldiers are their domicile and are inviolable even if they are found in the interior of a military base, into which no one may enter without consent or a judicial order, except in delito flagrante.  On April 22, 2014 a commander, on the order of a general, carried out a search with dogs, looking for drugs on the premises of the barracks of the Artillery Academy.

Although the corporal, the plaintiff, was not present, his bedroom was searched, since a female soldier who had the keys to all the rooms, opened the doors of the bedrooms and at least two dogs entered.  The commanders, the defendants, justified their position alleging that it was all in error, since they did not know that the corporal was not there, but the tribunal pointed out that they did not make an effort to find out whether he was there or not and that if the order had been to carry out the search without his consent or judicial authorization this "would not only have been illegal but also criminal.." Only in a trial could it be determined whether there was intent or not.

The novelty of this case is that it underlines the seriousness of a practice which until now has been widespread: that of generalized searches of soldier's bedrooms in military barracks.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dunlap v. Joyner & The Weirick: put up your dukes!

The Editor's old pal Major General Charles J. Dunlap, USAF (Ret), now at Duke, has published this response to the War on the Rocks piece by Prof. James Joyner and The Weirick that is cross-posted here. The Joyner-Weirick post got quite a few hits by the modest standards of this blog, so there does seem to be lively interest in the issues they raise. Perhaps they would like to submit a rebuttal -- or perhaps readers may wish to weigh in? (Real names only, please.)

Challenge to Thai military court

Four people who are on trial in a Thai military court for violating a ban against demonstrations (they were demonstrating for elections) have challenged the court's jurisdiction over civilians. Details here.

"The military court ordered prosecutors to have the Pathumwan District Court set up a committee to rule on the court's jurisdiction."