Chapter Four: The Way Ahead - 2016-17
In the upcoming reporting period the Office of the JAG, under the leadership of a new JAG, will continue to advance a number of initiatives designed to enhance the military justice system. For example, the Court Martial Comprehensive Review Team should complete its review of the court martial system’s effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy. Once a draft report has been submitted to the JAG, a thorough review and analysis of the draft report will be undertaken with a view to determining the next steps.
In addition, the Office of JAG will continue to work towards the development and implementation of a military justice case management tool and database which will assist the JAG in his overall superintendence of the administration of military justice in the CAF. It is envisioned that this case management tool and database will allow the JAG to maintain an overall awareness of the efficiency and effectiveness of the functioning of the military justice system. In addition, it will assist commanders at all levels in their responsibilities for the day-to-day administration of the military justice system by better positioning the JAG to make specific recommendations to improve and enhance their military justice related processes. Such evidence-based recommendations would ultimately promote the responsible development of the military justice system.
In relation to the summary trial system, the Office of the JAG will continue to investigate the decrease in the number of summary trials as well as the number of charges disposed of by summary trial in order to determine the cause and whether any action may be appropriate moving forward. It will also monitor the percentage of accused who elect trial by court martial to see if that number continues to increase in the next reporting period.
The Office of the JAG also continues to work with the Department of Justice towards the completion of the regulations required to bring the remaining provisions of Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence, into force. Bill C-15 comprises the most significant amendments to the NDA since 1998 and has required a number of extensive regulatory amendments in relation to military justice. Bill C-15 continues to improve various aspects of the military justice system including a number of provisions that, when brought into force, will provide victims of service offences with specific procedural rights such as their right to make victim impact statements during the sentencing phase of courts martial and the ability of a court martial to make an order for restitution similar to those provisions that exist in the Criminal Code of Canada.
Finally, the Office of the JAG will continue to support the CDS and the chain of command towards the elimination of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour within the CAF. Such behaviour not only undermines our ability to achieve our mission of defending Canadian interests at home and abroad, but it also impacts on the discipline, efficiency and morale of the CAF. The military justice system plays a complementary role to Operation HONOUR and provides a valuable tool for all commanders in the elimination of harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviour as any inappropriate and harmful misconduct can seriously undermine discipline and morale in the CAF. The Office of JAG remains committed to ensuring that the military justice system plays an important role in dealing with and supporting complainants and that those individuals who are alleged to have committed offences of a sexual nature are dealt with according to the rule of law.
This past year has been a busy one in terms of the development of military justice. Legal officers within the Office of the JAG have continued to advance a variety of policy and legislative initiatives while also responding to a number of other challenges within the military justice system. In doing so, they have proven themselves to be experts in the area of military justice and military law. However, despite the work that has been undertaken thus far, challenges remain such as the ongoing review of the court martial system and advancing the JAG’s ability to superintend the administration of military justice in the CAF.
Canada’s military justice system is a fair, efficient and essential element in promoting the operational effectiveness of the CAF and ensuring justice for its members. It protects and promotes our democratic values and the rule of law responsibly and in line with Canadian values. It is a first-class system designed for the unique requirements of a professional military force and is an effective tool to ensure that the discipline, efficiency and morale of the CAF is maintained to the highest possible standard. All Canadians, especially CAF members, can have the utmost confidence in Canada’s system of military justice.
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