Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Canadian Military Justice. Past its "best-before date".

Contributor Jim Dunne has written an article published in  FRONTLINE DEFENCE - [Canada's defence magazine] on the Canadian military justice questioning, inter alia, the efficacy of having episodal independent reviews of the National Defence Act by jurists who rely on the assistance and guidance provided by a compact phalanx of senior officers from the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) to complete that task.

By way of example, Dunn quotes the comments made by the retired judge appointed by the Minister of National Defence in 2011 (on the advice of the Judge Advocate General) to act as an "Independent Review Authority". He cites comments made by the Honourable Patrick J. LeSage in his Report who recognizes that he was very ably assisted by several JAG officers during his study:
Senior JAG officers provided me with ". . . valuable comments, recommendations and observations that have helped […] shape the content of the Report [as they undertook] the considerable challenge of educating me, regarding the military justice system. . . [They also] shepherded us through all the base visits . . .providing me with invaluable information and guidance throughout this process.”
Rhetorically, Dunn asks: "with so much participation by the JAG legal staff . . . just how independent was this “independent review”? Good question indeed.

On the broader issue, Dunn concludes by noting that: " It is time that the Canadian government not merely review the efficacy of Bill C-25, nor simply revisit the Code of Service Discipline. Perhaps it is time to abandon the dogmas of the past two centuries and bring Canadian military justice into the twenty-first century."

Noting that Great Britain gave the Anglo-Saxon world the model on which to base their systems of military justice and has undergone extensive revision of its military disciplinary system to ensure that it conforms more closely to the stipulations of the European Convention on Human Rights, Dunn suggests that Canada should also engage in such a reform by considering what has taken place there and elsewhere in Europe where many nations 'have abandoned military justice.'

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