Sunday, November 23, 2014

Due process and military personnel: separation of functions is needed

Axel Buchheister
From La Tercera comes this op-ed suggesting that Chilean military justice should change. Axel Buchheister, director of juridical studies at the Liberty and Development Institute, argues that the military courts perpetuate the combination of functions that Chile's civilian criminal courts got rid of years ago:
IN CHILE Criminal Procedure Reform came because the former inquisitorial system did not respect due process, a basic human right, by giving one person the roles of investigator, prosecutor and judge. But the country's double standard keeps it for a segment of the population: the military. They are the only ones who remain endlessly subject to the old system.
In cases of "human rights" proceedings continue to follow the old regime, even though nearly 10 years ago it ceased to apply throughout Chile. Appellate judges are appointed to conduct such proceedings, despite the fact that the Constitution prohibits the ad hoc courts ("special commissions"). This ignores the human right to a competent tribunal; and they are all properly "coordinated" by a judge of the Supreme Court, which contradicts the independence of judges and is not in any law.
But that is not the only exception to due process affecting the military. Consider the case arising from the plane crash in Juan Fernández. It is the responsibility of military justice, but it actually works like the old civil criminal jurisdiction: an appellate judge serves as investigator, prosecutor and judge. Military Justice definitely has to be reformed, but in one respect it always exceeded civil justice: there is no separation of functions . . . The hierarchical relationship between the judge and the prosecutor has been criticized, but it is even worse where they are the same person. But that changed a few years ago with the law providing for civilian judges to serve on the Military Court (as ad hoc judges), who investigate, accuse and decide. A disconcerting involution of due process.
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What do you think of all this, National Institute of Human Rights? Because here and now they are violating the human rights of soldiers. Or doesn't it matter? [Rough Google translation]

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