Message from the VCDS: An important milestone in the Victims’ Rights and Summary Hearing Implementation
May 11, 2022 - Defence Stories
As you know, our Military Justice System (MJS) is in the midst of profound change and modernization. We are pleased to share that we’ve reached an important milestone in the Victims’ Rights and Summary Hearing (VR&SH) Implementation as the remaining provisions of An Act to Amend the National Defence Act and to Make Related and Consequential Amendments to Other Acts (formerly known as Bill C-77) will come into force on 20 June 2022.
What It Means
Bill C-77 will amend the National Defence Act (NDA) by:
- Bringing into force the Declaration of Victims’ Rights (DVR), which introduces new legal rights for victims of service offences;
- Introducing the summary hearing process, a non-penal, non-criminal disciplinary process grounded in administrative law principles; and retiring the criminal law-based summary trial process; and
- Improving Court Martial (CM) processes to both enhance the independence of key MJS actors as well as to more fully align military judge and CM powers and procedures to support the introduction of the DVR.
New training will be offered starting mid-May to help you understand and apply these changes. All current commanding officers and superior commanders, as well as certain delegated officers identified by your chain of command, will need to be certified by 20 June 2022.
Why It Matters
- The DVR will help ensure victims of service offences are supported throughout the military justice process and that their rights are protected every step of the way;
- The summary hearing process will simplify military discipline, making it easier for the Chain of Command to deal with minor breaches of conduct fairly, efficiently, and effectively;
- These changes will better align the MJS with the civilian criminal justice system’s handling of victims and victims’ issues; and
- The implementation of Victims’ Rights and the Summary Hearing process are the latest periodic update to ensure the Code of Service Discipline continues to maintain discipline, efficiency, and morale of the CAF while also adapting to evolving Canadian law.
This initiative is in direct support of culture change and aims to improve the MJS at all levels. As we achieve milestones, we will strive to keep you updated and equipped with the several resources in place to inform, train, and help us all in incorporating these key changes into the leadership and administration of the CAF. We remind all leaders across the CAF of their obligation to familiarize themselves with the aspects of VR&SH Implementation as progress is made.
Lieutenant-General Frances Allen
Vice Chief of the Defence Staff
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