Thursday, June 17, 2021

Stand by for a challenge to Jamaica's military justice system

This account in The Gleaner indicates that two members of the Jamaica Defence Force plan to challenge the independence and impartiality of the Ordinary Court-Martial, a core feature of the island country's military justice system.

The Defence Act still prescribes a classic pre-Findlay system. No military judge; convening and confirming authorities; court-martial members selected by the commander -- "the whole nine yards." Non-capital courts-martial are subject to appellate review by leave of the Court of Appeal. The challenge in the current case will rest on § 16.1 of the Constitution of Jamaica, which provides:

Whenever any person is charged with a criminal offence he shall, unless the charge is withdrawn, be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.

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