Canadian Armed Forces to Release Outcomes of Administrative Action to Victims of Sexual Misconduct
July 29, 2019 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Sexual misconduct has no place in the Canadian Armed Forces. Establishing an environment in which our people have confidence that they can raise concerns about sexual misconduct and that those concerns will be addressed appropriately is essential for the organization and a key tenet of Operation HONOUR. While recent studies, including the 2018 Statistics Canada Survey on Sexual Misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces, indicate a growing level of trust among personnel that the chain of the command will appropriately address incidents of sexual misconduct, improving support for those who bravely come forward to report sexual misconduct remains our top priority. We are listening to them and learning from their experiences, so that we can strengthen our approach to addressing harmful behaviour in our ranks.
On July 25, 2019, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) issued direction to personnel indicating that commanding officers can now provide victims with information about the outcomes and conclusions of administrative reviews related to their complaint, as well as administrative actions imposed by the chain of command on the person who caused them harm.
This change in process closes a critical information gap identified by complainants in cases of sexual misconduct and victim advocates. This gap was also highlighted by the Auditor General of Canada, who noted in his Fall 2018 Report on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour – Canadian Armed Forces that “due to obligations “in the Privacy Act, in many cases, the chain of command did not tell victims whether administrative actions had been taken and why.”
The CAF worked with privacy experts to find a solution to this issue. The new approach respects due process and fairness to all, and prevents the release of highly sensitive personal information, such as medical or psycho-social assessments or treatment. This is consistent with the current approach used by the CAF in relation to harassment cases, and aligns with feedback provided by victims.
The amended approach reflects the CAF’s commitment to support those affected by sexual misconduct and to develop policies and procedures that are informed by victims and victim advocates. Other efforts underway will ensure that victims remain informed, respected and heard throughout the process when cases of sexual misconduct are being prosecuted, and will create clear statutory rights for victims of service offences, including sexual misconduct within the military justice system.
“Supporting victims of sexual misconduct continues to be a top priority for the Canadian Armed Forces. We recognize the importance of keeping them fully informed throughout the complaint and investigation process. This amendment brings consistency to our processes for both harassment and sexual misconduct and addresses an unfortunate information gap that was eroding victims’ trust that complaints were taken seriously. We will continue to listen to all those affected by sexual misconduct to understand their concerns and identify areas where we can improve our policies and processes.”
Commodore Rebecca Patterson, Director General, Professional Military Conduct–Operation HONOUR (formerly the CAF Strategic Response Team–Sexual Misconduct)
“The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre aims to ensure the needs of affected members are taken into considerations at all times by advising and guiding the CAF. We are pleased to see that the process has been amended to now allow affected members to be aware of the outcomes of actions taken against perpetrators. We believe it is a critical step in the healing and closure processes. It is something that affected members have been asking for, and this amendment will help build confidence in the reporting process.”
Dr. Denise Preston, Executive Director, Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, Department of National Defence
Administrative actions include remedial measures, such as initial counselling, a recorded warning, or counselling and probation. If the incident is serious enough or involves repeat offences, the member can be released from the Forces.
Operation HONOUR is the Canadian Armed Forces’ mission to eliminate sexual misconduct in the Canadian military. It was launched in 2015.
The Sexual Misconduct Response Centre (SMRC), was established as part of Operation HONOUR under the Department of National Defence and independent from the CAF chain of command. The SMRC ensures the provision of timely, compassionate, and comprehensive support to CAF members affected by sexual misconduct. The SMRC also provides guidance to the chain of command on supporting victims, as well as expert advice, and recommendations to the CAF to guide its response to sexual misconduct.
Department of National Defence
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