Wednesday, December 13, 2017

More reform of New Zealand's military justice system

Click here for the text and other detail about the Military Justice Legislation Amendment Bill, which passed its first reading in New Zealand's unicameral Parliament on 7 December 2017.   The purpose of the Bill is "to update the military justice system and to align it with the criminal justice system by enhancing victims’ rights, amending the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971, the Court Martial Act 2007, and the Court Martial Appeals Act 1953".  The parliamentary page to which I have provided a link gives you access to the Bill itself as well as YouTube videos of all the speeches in respect of the Bill, providing an interesting snapshot of varying political perspectives on military justice in New Zealand.

Any person can make a submission to Parliament's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee about this Bill.  You do not even have to be a New Zealander and it can be done on-line!

Pakistan files today with International Court of Justice

Pakistan is today filing its reply in the International Court of Justice's Jadhav Case (India v. Pakistan). According to this report in The Nation, a senior Pakistani official stated:
“We will provide evidence to the ICJ to prove his role in the killings of so many Pakistanis. His case at the ICJ should be dismissed.”

Another official said Pakistan’s response was based on the Vienna Convention and country’s ambassador in the Netherlands will submit the reply. Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali is overseeing the high-profile case on behalf of Pakistan.

The official said Pakistan’s response included concrete evidence of Research and Analysis Wing agent Kulbhushan Jadhav’s confession of involvement in terror-related activities and rejection of India’s stance submitted with the ICJ.

“Pakistan’s argument is that the ICJ has no jurisdiction to hear the case of a terrorist who has orchestrated bloodshed in Pakistan. We are hopeful we will win our case,” he said.
The case may reveal details of the procedures employed by Pakistan's military courts. India's merits submission cannot be found on the ICJ's case web page. According to this report, at the Human Rights Council last month in Geneva, "India recommended that military courts in Pakistan should be barred from trying civilians and allow their monitoring by international observers and human rights organisations."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Should Special Victims Counsel be reined in?

J. Solomon Bashi
New York lawyer and Army National Guard Captain J. Solomon Bashi, writing in his personal capacity, has this op-ed on about the role of Special Victims Counsel. In his view, "[t]he Secretary of Defense should issue a directive prohibiting the SVC from participating in the trial, including making motions in limine or evidentiary objections. Such a directive would remove any suggestion that the SVC program harms due process by clarifying that the SVC’s role is limited to that of solely an attorney representing a witness. The only time an SVC should be allowed to make motions in court should be situations when a third-party attorney could normally do so, such as a motion to quash or modify a subpoena."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Sex offenses: an "unremitting problem" for the Canadian Forces

Global Military Justice Reform contributor Canadian Forces Major (Ret) Tim Dunne has this article in The Lawyer's Daily. He writes:

"The court martial process is daunting and confusing even for military members. For a civilian victim or witness it is comparable to entering another world."

100 years ago today

Sig Christenson
Senior reporter Sig Christenson of the San Antonio Express-News has written a smart and vivid account of the Houston Riots courts-martial, one hundred years later. (Today marks a century since 13 soldiers were hanged.) His article not only describes the mutiny that led to the courts, but also the significant legal fallout -- as well as the executions. Excerpt:
The riot and its aftermath rocked the Army, prompting one major reform almost immediately and a quiet reassessment of the use of black soldiers in a racist military and society that could not tolerate them as equals.

Under the Articles of War, a document going back to the Revolution, soldiers had no right to appeal in a time of war, but that was changed not long after the executions.

Infuriated over the hangings, then-acting Judge Advocate General Brig. Gen. Samuel T. Ansell in 1918 prohibited the execution of any death sentence before a review and determination of legality. A review board for all serious courts-martial soon became the Army’s first appellate structure. Congress later formalized it by statute and in so doing created the foundation for today’s Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
The article also points out, on the other hand:
“The noble experiment of incorporating black officers and men into the Army literally blew up in their faces,” John Manguso, retired director of the Fort Sam Houston Museum, wrote in a document used for a panel discussion years ago. “Despite competent and gallant service of black soldiers in the (First) World War, only the problems and difficulties were remembered.

“As a nation, we were to repeat many of the same mistakes in World War II. As the result of (Houston’s) night of violence, all Americans lost a great opportunity, and a quarter-century would pass before any further effort was made to allow black Americans to take their rightful place in the defense of the nation.”