Joint Statement of the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal and the Director of Military Prosecutions
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp) are at a crossroads. We all recognize that allegations of sexual misconduct against senior leaders have had a detrimental effect on the credibility of the CAF and the morale of its members.
The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM) and the Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) are independent actors within the military justice system, and will play an active role in support of the institutional changes needed from the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) and the Canadian Military Prosecution Service (CMPS) are staffed with competent professionals, fully capable of investigating and responding to allegations of criminal and disciplinary offences, including sexual assault and other criminal offences of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code.
We acknowledge the current crisis of public confidence in the military justice system, particularly as it relates to allegations of sexual misconduct. Although Military Police investigators and military prosecutors possess the professional skills, dedication and competence to investigate and prosecute criminal and disciplinary offences, we recognize that this has not been enough to build and maintain trust and confidence in the military justice system. We are keenly aware that the proper functioning of any justice system relies on public confidence.
The increasing lack of public confidence in the military justice system is a real and pressing concern. Consequently, exercising our authority as independent actors, we will implement Mme. Arbour’s interim recommendation immediately. The CFPM has started to work on policy directives that will be issued to the members of the Military Police and to establish a framework to give precedence to the exercise of civilian jurisdiction over the investigation of sexual assault and other criminal offences of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code. We will initiate a conversation with our civilian counterparts to develop workable processes and effective practices with them. We are committed to updating our policies, practices and procedures in respect of the exercise of concurrent jurisdiction.
The CFPM will leverage his role as a member of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) to communicate this shift in the exercise of jurisdiction pertaining to sexual assault and other criminal offences of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code in order to ensure a smooth transition. Military Police commanders will supplement these efforts at their level to find the best ways to interact with local law enforcement agencies.
Similarly, the DMP, in conjunction with the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Heads of Prosecution, has already begun work in establishing a set of principles and presumptions for the proper exercise of concurrent jurisdiction in response to the recommendations in the Report of the Third Independent Review Authority.
Canadians can and should have confidence in the military justice system. Canada’s military justice system has evolved to be a full partner in administering justice alongside the civilian justice system. This has been consistently recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada and the successive independent reviews of the National Defence Act. The military justice system is crucial to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency and morale of the CAF, and now largely mirrors the civilian criminal justice system.
To victims, who are at the forefront of all that we do, rest assured that the Military Police will support you throughout any transfer process to the civilian justice system. You and anyone affected by this change will be contacted in the coming days by the Military Police to discuss the way forward and to answer any questions you may have.
We are committed to playing our part in restoring public confidence in the military justice system. The implementation of the Declaration of Victims’ Rights, the other provisions of Bill C-77, and the recommendations from the various external reviews will all go a long way in these efforts. We also believe that greater emphasis on civilian investigations and prosecutions for sexual assault and other criminal offences of a sexual nature under the Criminal Code is now appropriate and necessary. Canadians can be assured that the military justice system stands ready to act where the civilian criminal justice system is unable or declines to exercise its jurisdiction in these matters.
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