Friday, July 11, 2014

Retired justice to investigate how Canadian Forces deal with sexual misconduct and harassment

Justice (ret)
Marie Deschamps
Retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps will conduct an investigation into how the Canadian Forces deal with sexual misconduct and harassment, according to this Metronews article. "While she will be allowed to look into anything she thinks is relevant to help the military prevent sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, her investigation won’t go into the workings of the military legal system."

The assignment of this task to a single jurist is in sharp contrast to the multimember Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel and its three subcommittees in the United States.

1 comment:

  1. Justice (retired) Marie Deschamps' mandate specifically excludes any review of any decision relating to the military penal justice system or a decision made to investigate complaints, lay charges, to proceed with charges or prosecute charges. It also excludes any legal advice received by the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Forces, the conduct of military police or any matter related to the JAG in respect of his function as the Superintendent of the administration of the military justice. In short, her mandate is limited to (a) a review of policies, procedures and programs in relation to sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, and (b) the extent to which members actually report incidence of sexual misconduct.

    I am unable to comprehend why a jurist of her high standing would have accepted such a truncated mandate. Particularly since both her vast and acclaimed judicial expertise and experience lie precisely in the area pertaining to the penal justice system and since the failure by victims to report ‘sexual misconduct’ probably exist in the first place because of the failure of the existing military penal justice system to properly deal with such crimes.

    Unless, her mandate is enlarged, this External Review risks to be left with the pleasant task of giving accolades to the military for the clarity and comprehensiveness of their policies, instructions, orders, regulations, directives on the issues of sexual misconduct as well as the appropriateness of their training programs to prevent sexual misconduct. By the same token, however, this will provide the military penal justice system an unassailable opportunity to “montrer patte blanche’ despite its current alleged inability to deal effectively with victims of sexual assault resulting in a disturbingly high level of unreported incidents of sexual misconduct.


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