Friday, January 2, 2015

A new year begins

As 2015 begins, it may be worthwhile to note pending military justice reform issues to keep an eye on:

  • Will Pakistan create military courts in the wake of the Peshawar Army School massacre? Nutshell version: there's a strong desire to get serious about violence in the country, but there is reluctance in Parliament to amend the Constitution, without which military courts would lack a firm foundation and might well be invalidated by the Supreme Court. Query: why not fix the civilian courts, which appear to have become entirely dysfunctional?
  • Will the court-martial of Major Zaidi Ahmad proceed in Malaysian despite evidence that the president of the court posted a disparaging comment about him on Facebook? If so, will Major Zaidi be convicted for making a statement about the ineffectiveness of the indelible ink used to prevent voter fraud in the 2013 election and releasing a document on the same subject? If he is, will the civilian courts let the matter stand?
  • Will Nigeria get a handle on discipline or continue to hemorrhage courts-martial? The situation is very concerning as the Army does not seem to be making progress in the fight with Boko Haram.
  • Will sexual assault continue to plague the U.S. armed forces, and will new data emerge that indicate whether recent legislation has had any effect?
  • Will Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act attract the 60 votes needed to achieve cloture?
  • Will Indonesia enact military justice reform legislation to subject military personnel to civilian trials?
  • Will the Colombian Congress enact legislation to clarify that military personnel who commit human rights violations will be tried in civilian courts -- and if so, will it survive review by the Constitutional Court?
  • Will anything shake the Egyptian government's rampant use of military courts to try civilians?
  • Will Tunisia and other countries continue to prosecute civilians in military courts to suppress dissent?
  • When will Morocco's vaunted military justice reforms take effect, and will they be made applicable to pending cases?
  • What will the Supreme Court of Canada decide when its hears Moriarity and other pivotal military justice appeals on May 12, 2015?
  • What will the U.S. Department of Defense's Military Justice Review Group recommend?
  • Will we learn more about Chinese military justice as a result of upcoming corruption cases against PLA senior officers?
  • Will the Supreme Court of India invalidate the arrangements under which the Armed Forces Tribunal functions?
  • Will Australia settle on new military justice legislation following the High Court's invalidation of earlier efforts?
This list is obviously not exhaustive. Some of these issues may just be kicked down the road, and there will inevitably be surprises as new cases and legislative developments pop up. If your crystal ball reveals some other issue to watch, please comment (real names only, please).

Postscript: Over at CAAFlog you can find the Top Ten Military Justice Stories of 2014. Excellent reading for U.S. practitioners (and super teaching materials). BZ to the team of authors.

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