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Archived - Victims Rights in the Military Justice System Act - Court Martial and Summary Trial Amendments

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June 15, 2015

Related Amendments to Court Martial and Summary Trial Processes
Court Martial AmendmentDetails

Proposed legislation would provide for certain judicial orders by a military judge

To protect vulnerable participants within the military justice system, a military judge could impose orders such as non-disclosure orders, publication bans, and orders preventing an accused person from personally cross-examining a victim

Proposed legislation would enhance a victim’s ability to participate in proceedings providing for flexibility in how a victim impact statement could be presented to a court martial

The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights modified the Victim Impact Statement regime within the Criminal Code; therefore, this proposed legislation would amend the National Defence Act in a similar way to permit victims of service offences with flexibility in terms of how they can present their statements

Proposed legislation would allow for the submission of community impact statements

Affords a member of the community the opportunity to describe the harm done to, or the loss suffered by, the community as a result of a service offence

Proposed legislation would allow for the submission of military impact statements

Affords a representative of the Canadian Armed Forces the opportunity to describe the impact on discipline, efficiency, and morale as a result of a service offence

Summary Trial AmendmentDetails

Proposed legislation would eliminate summary trial jurisdiction to try service offences1

The proposed amendments would ensure that more serious disciplinary and all criminal misconduct is dealt with as service offences at courts martial, while minor service misconduct (a disciplinary infraction) is dealt with expediently and fairly at summary trial.

Proposed legislation would create a new class of disciplinary infractions that could only be tried by summary trial.

Proposed disciplinary infractions would be punishable by one or a combination of disciplinary sanctions, including reduction in rank, deprivation of pay and allowances, reprimands, and minor sanctions.

The fundamental purpose of disciplinary sanctions would be to promote the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces through the maintenance of discipline, efficiency, and morale.

Proposed legislation would expand a presiding officer’s jurisdiction to allow him or her to try accused members of all ranks, as long as the presiding officer is at least one rank higher than the accused person. Currently, officers above the rank of major cannot be tried by summary trial.

The proposed amendments would provide appropriate presiding officers with greater flexibility to deal with minor disciplinary misconduct at summary trials for members of all ranks.

Changes to the Summary Trial Process

The proposed legislation would enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ summary trial process by emphasizing the disciplinary nature of these tribunals, while allowing them to deal with minor service misconduct in a more efficient manner with a view towards promoting operational effectiveness in the Canadian Armed Forces.

For instance, in order to clearly establish summary trials as disciplinary tribunals for dealing with minor service misconduct, the proposed legislation would eliminate all penal and criminal aspects of the current summary trial process.  Specifically, summary trial jurisdiction would be limited to a new class of “disciplinary infractions,” and would no longer include jurisdiction to try any service offences. 

Furthermore, a summary trial would only have the power to impose one or a combination of new non-penal disciplinary sanctions on a person found to have committed a disciplinary infraction.  Such sanctions would include reduction in rank, forfeiture of pay, reprimands, and minor sanctions, but would not include the existing punishment of detention in a Service Prison or Detention Barrack. 

The fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions in respect of disciplinary infractions would be set out in the legislation, namely, to promote the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Armed Forces by maintaining discipline, efficiency, and morale.

A summary trial presiding officer’s jurisdiction would also be expanded to allow him or her to try accused persons of all ranks, as long as the presiding officer is at least one rank higher than the accused person.

1 “Service offence” , pursuant to section 2 (1) of the National Defence Act, means an offence under this Act, the Criminal Code or any other Act of Parliament, committed by a person while subject to the Code of Service Discipline.

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