Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Opinion on the Canadian military justice system

Lawyers's Daily publishes an Opinion Piece titled "Dutil  trial highlights shortcomings of military Justice" calling for real reforms.  Some major structural and organizational changes must be made to ensure that it can conforms to 21st century norms. This is currently not the case.

Some key passages are reproduced below:

"Colonel Mario Dutil was charged with seven military offences and one Criminal Code offence — of which four charges were withdrawn by the prosecution on the first day of the court martial (the fraud charge in relation to an alleged improper expense claim was not withdrawn). 

Now, the court martial has collapsed after the presiding judge recused himself stating that none of the remaining three judges are able to preside over the trial. All of this does not bode well for the reputation of the administration of military justice. It is the kind of thing that would likely shake the public’s confidence in the ability of the military prosecution and judiciary to provide the accused a fair process. It begs the question: could any of this have been avoided or done with a better sense of detachment? The short answer is, absolutely because military tribunals are tribunals of exception in criminal matters.

The aborted court martial of Judge Dutil has already laid bare major structural and organizational defects of courts martial as well as major issues concerning the discernment of the military prosecution in deciding to prosecute Judge Dutil before a court martial as well as the independence of the military judiciary. This can only lead to a severe loss of confidence and trust in the fairness of the military justice system. What is certain; the military justice system is not established, controlled and managed in a way that conforms to expected 21st century norms. There is an urgent need for reform."

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