Thursday, November 4, 2021

Canada: CAF allegations of sexual criminal offences and misconduct will move to civilian justice system

CBC News reports in this article that the newly appointed Canadian Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, is directing that the investigation of allegations and prosecution of sexual criminal offences or misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) move into the civilian justice system.

On October 20, former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour, who is conducting an external independent review into sexual harassment and misconduct in the Canadian military, made interim recommendations to Minister Anand’s predecessor. In her letter, Madame Arbour notably writes:

The Honourable Morris J. Fish’s recommendation No. 68 should be implemented immediately. All sexual assaults and other criminal offences of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code, including historical sexual offences, alleged to have been perpetrated by a CAF member, past or present (“sexual offences”) should be referred to civilian authorities. Consequently, starting immediately, the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) should transfer to civilian police forces all allegations of sexual offences, including allegations currently under investigation by the CFNIS, unless such investigation is near completion. In any event, in all cases charges should be laid in civilian court.

Correspondingly, civilian authorities should exercise investigative and prosecutorial jurisdiction over all sexual offences by CAF members. Should civilian authorities decline to proceed, the matter should be returned to the CAF to determine whether disciplinary action is desirable under the National Defence Act. Administrative Review related to sexual misconduct in the CAFD should continue to proceed, for the time being, in parallel to, in addition to or in the absence of the criminal charge

In her November 3 response letter, Minister Anand writes:

I share your concerns and agree that it is necessary to establish a process that will facilitate the handling of allegations of sexual offences in an independent and transparent way outside of the CAF and the military justice system.


I am grateful to you for your efforts to build on the excellent work of the Honourable Marie Deschamps and the Honourable Morris J. Fish. I very much believe that a comprehensive approach to addressing sexual harassment and misconduct in the CAF is necessary for the CAF to live up to its stated values and the expectations of Canadians. I am pleased, therefore to accept your interim recommendations and to inform you that the Defence Team will begin work immediately to implement them.


I am pleased to inform you that the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) and the Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) are working quickly to develop the mechanisms and processes that will be required to implement your interim recommendations. I understand that they intend to engage with your team in order to ensure that their work on implementation remains consistent with your recommendations. In addition, the CFPM and DMP have begun to engage federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) counterparts on implementation of these interim recommendations and my officials are collaborating with the Department of Justice who have confirmed their willingness to facilitate or support these FPT discussions.

Both former Justice Arbour’s letter and Minister Anand’s response can be found in a post she made earlier today in her Twitter account.

A scholar (1974-1987) and a judge (1987-1995; 1999-2004), Louise Arbour was also the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia (1996-1999), the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2004-2008), and the UN Special Representative for International Migration (2017-2018).

After an academic career (1997-2019), specializing in corporate governance, Anita Anand was first elected in 2019 and appointed as Minister of Public Services and Procurement shortly after. She led Canada’s challenge to secure COVID-19 vaccine supply. She was sworn in as Minister of National Defence on October 26, following last September Canadian federal election.


  1. The New York Times has this report:

  2. This is not the solution that some people might think it is.

    Here is my take on this announcement:


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