Victims’ Rights and the Summary Hearing Process will soon Come into Force
June 14, 2022 - Defence Stories
The members of our Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) make great sacrifices every day in service to our country. They deserve a military justice system that is fair, efficient, and one that is aligned with Canada’s civilian criminal justice system – one that endeavours to make sure victims supported and heard.
An Act to Amend the National Defence Act and to Make Related Consequential Amendments to Other Acts (also known as Bill C-77), is federal legislation to modernize the Military Justice System (MJS). Certain provisions of Bill C-77 came into force immediately upon royal assent, and the remaining provisions will come into force on June 20, 2022. These changes will ensure that the MJS remains an effective tool in promoting discipline, efficiency and morale in the CAF, while continuing to evolve with Canadian law.
As part of this coming into force on June 20, there will be important updates to Queen’s Regulations and Orders, Defence Administrative Orders and Directives (DAOD), and other policies, training and forms.
The legislative, policy, and training changes include:
- The introduction of the Declaration of Victims’ Rights (DVR) to the Code of Service Discipline (CSD), enshrining rights to information, protection, participation, and restitution for victims of service offences. These rights will mirror the rights provided under the civilian criminal justice system through the application of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
- A new function known as the Victim’s Liaison Officer (VLO) will be made available to any victim of a service offence, should they wish to have a VLO appointed to them. The VLO will assist victims of service offences understand how service offences are charged, dealt with and tried under the CSD and by obtaining and transmitting information to which the victim has a right under the DVR relating to the investigation and proceedings of a service offence.
- The summary trial process will be repealed and a new summary hearing process will be established. The summary hearing process will be a non-penal, non-criminal process that will improve the chain of command’s ability to deal with minor breaches of discipline fairly and efficiently. These minor breaches of discipline will be captured as service infractions and will only be dealt with through summary hearings. Service offences will remain unchanged, however will only be dealt with by court martial.
- Military Police (MP) assigned to investigative duties will now have the authority to lay service offence charges, expanding this authority from only MPs serving with the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS). In regards to service infractions, MP assigned to investigative duties and CFNIS will also have the authority to lay service infraction charges in addition to the unit chain of command
Implementing the remaining provisions of Bill C-77 requires both the update of existing policies and the development of new policies. The new policies to take effect on June 20 include:
- DAOD 7003-0 Victim Complaint Review Mechanism;
- Interim Victim Liaison Officer Policy to be issued by Chief of Professional Conduct and Culture (CPCC); and
- Military Justice at the Unit Level Policy to be issued jointly by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and the Judge Advocate General (JAG).
Training and education has been developed and in some cases is already underway to ensure the CAF is ready for these upcoming changes to the MJS. This training includes:
- New training called Military Justice – Unit Level (MJUL). MJUL is the successor course to Presiding Officer Certification Training. The course is being offered through the Defence Learning Network 3.0 and will take eight to ten hours to complete. Superior commanders and commanding officers must complete this training by June 20, while delegated officers must complete the training before performing any duties under the CSD.
- A three day long training course has been developed to train CAF members to act as a VLO. CAF personnel can contact their chain of command if they are interested in becoming a VLO.
- The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal has ensured relevant MP policies are updated and that the training is delivered to MP members to meet the requirements of the modernized MJS including expansion of MP charge-laying authority.
A CAF-wide brief is forthcoming to all members from your chain of command about the implementation of the Victims’ Rights and Summary Hearing provisions of Bill C-77. The chain of command is encouraged to contact their unit legal advisor if legal advice is needed regarding changes to the MJS.
The MJS enhancements coming into force on June 20 will demonstrate the commitment of DND/CAF to the continued support of victims of service offences, and to evolving the MJS to ensure it remains fair, just, and in harmony with Canadian law while respecting the unique disciplinary requirements of the CAF. The enhancements to the MJS will further align military justice with Canadian values and promote a culture of leadership, respect, and honour within DND/CAF.
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