Sunday, February 5, 2023

Discipline in wartime

Politico's Veronika Melkozerova writes here about Ukraine's recent legislation to reduce desertion and indiscipline. Excerpt:

The law [which went into force last month] aims to standardize and toughen the repercussions for rule-breaking, improving discipline and the combat readiness of military units. Disobedience will be punishable by five to eight years in prison, rather than the previous two to seven; desertion or failure to appear for duty without a valid reason by up to 10 years. Threatening commanders, consuming alcohol, questioning orders and many other violations will also be dealt with more harshly, potentially with prison time; those who broke these rules in the past may have gotten away with a probation period or the docking of their combat pay.

Those who lobbied in favor of the new law, such as the Ukrainian Army General Staff, argue it will make discipline fairer: Previously, because courts adjudicated infractions on a case-by-case basis, some perpetrators were able to escape punishment for serious rule-breaking entirely, while others received harsher sentences for less significant violations, according to an explanatory note that accompanied the new law.

But soldiers, lawyers and human rights watchdogs have slammed the measures as an inappropriate and blunt instrument that won’t deal with the root causes of military indiscipline — and over 25,000 Ukrainians called on the president to veto the law altogether in a petition submitted to the president late last year.

President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the new law despite the petition.

Uganda AG "confused"

The Attorney General of Uganda says he's confused by the divergent rulings on whether the country's military courts may trial civilians. This report quotes longtime Global Military Justice Reform contributor Ronald Naluwairo:

Makerere University Law don Dr. Ronald Naluwayiro, who is also an expert on military justice and human rights was seemingly not convinced by the argument raised by the Attorney General. “But he is the Attorney General and he knows the hierarchy of courts. The Supreme Court decision takes precedent. The two decisions by courts have to be seen in light of Uganda’s international obligations. I draw your attention on the reports of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights” said Dr. Naluwayiro, who has published several articles about military courts and human rights.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

U.S. armed forces caseload data, CY22

Since U.S. military judges (all of whom go through training at The Judge Advocate General's School and Legal Center at Charlottesville, Virginia) may try cases in any service,
see R.C.M. 201(e)(4), and since the trial judiciaries could coordinate cross-service assignments if they wished, it is worth looking at all-service caseload numbers for general and special court-martial trials. The data below are drawn from the 2022 Art. 140a, UCMJ, TJAG reports. Reserve judges are counted as 1/12 of an active duty judge on the premise that they perform a month's duty per year.
                  Trials                 Judges
Army              615                    25.8
Air Force           314                     18.25
Navy & Marines     387                     28.1
Coast Guard        14                      10.0  
Total            1330                      82.15
Purple caseload/judge/year                          16.19
Purple caseload/judge/month                        1.35                 
Comments welcome, as always. Real names only, please.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Not even close

Myanmar's military government has imposed new rules on 37 townships. Treason and spreading false information will be tried by military courts, with no appellate review by a court -- death penalties will be reviewed by the junta chief. Details here.

Among the countries that regularly try civilians in military courts: Uganda, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt.

Appellate review of military trials is called for by Principle No. 15 of the 2006 UN Draft Principles Governing the Administration of Justice Through Military Tribunals: "Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to have his or her conviction and sentence reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law."

Duma bill would let commanders jail Russian personnel for up to 10 days

A bill has been introduced in the Russian State Duma that would authorize commanders to jail offenders for up to 10 days without a court trial, according to this Meduza report.