Sunday, June 14, 2015

Human Rights Watch objects to U.S. Army's characterization of its report on retaliation

On June 11, 2015, Human Rights Watch sent members of the U.S. Senate a letter taking issue with a memorandum circulated by email by the U.S. Army's Legislative Liaison office in response to HRW's May 18, 2015 report on retaliation against military personnel who complain of sexual assault. The letter, available here, states in part:
We have been informed that the US Army has cited the May 2015 Human Rights Watch report, Embattled: Retaliation against Sexual Assault Survivors in the US Military, in its opposition to proposals to remove decisions about the prosecution of sexual assaults from the chain of command. In materials recently circulated to Senate offices, the Army noted that “none of the 30 recommendations of HRW reduce the authority or role of the commander in the military justice system.”
It is false logic to argue that the failure to include a recommendation on chain of command is a tacit endorsement of the status quo. Our report addressed retaliation against victims of sexual assault in the military and did not address criminal justice accountability for the perpetrators of those assaults. Our report did not include a recommendation on this issue because we considered an analysis of the criminal justice process outside the scope of our research findings. . . .
(Footnotes omitted.) The episode demonstrates how, in the Army's view, the real stakes in the current controversy over sex offenses in the military go beyond issues of reprisal--important as they are--and in fact have to do with defending at all costs the command-centric charging system the U.S. inherited from George III (above right), even when a globally respected NGO has not directly engaged on the wisdom of that system.

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