Complete Victims’ Rights and Summary Hearing Implementation Comes into Force within the Military Justice System
June 20, 2022 – Ottawa, ON – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Today marks an important milestone for the modernization of the Military Justice System and a critical step forward that will support our efforts to effect lasting culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).
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) came into force, implementing the Declaration of Victims Rights, the Summary Hearing process, and other key changes to the Military Justice System.
The Declaration of Victims Rights establishes new rights for victims of service offences including rights to information, protection, participation and restitution. These rights are fully aligned with the rights afforded to victims in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
All victims of service offences will be able to request a Victim’s Liaison Officer to help them navigate the MJS and explain how service offences are charged, dealt with and tried under the Code of Service Discipline. The Victim’s Liaison Officer will also assist them in obtaining and transmitting information to which the victim has a right under the Declaration of Victims Rights relating to the investigation and proceedings of a service offence.
The implementation of the remaining provisions of Bill C-77 also introduces the summary hearing process, a non-penal, non-criminal disciplinary process grounded in administrative law principles; and retires the criminal law-based summary trial process. Additionally, existing court martial processes are updated to align with the changes introduced with the implementation of Bill C-77, including the Declaration of Victims Rights.
These changes to the Military Justice System aim to strengthen it on several fronts, completing the implementation which started with the provisions of Bill C-77 that came into force immediately upon Royal Assent, such as those concerning sentencing principles that consider offences motivated by bias, prejudice and hate as an aggravating factor for sentencing and direct court martial to pay particular attention to the circumstances of Indigenous offenders, as well as changes to criminal records for service offences.
“Modernizing our Military Justice System to better reflect Canadian values and to protect survivors is a key to promote a culture of leadership, respect, and honour within the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence. The full implementation of Bill C-77 enables essential mechanisms to ensure our members are safe, protected and respected, as they continue to accomplish their many vital duties, both at home and abroad.”
The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence
“We must ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces is an environment that is safe for everyone and that our people are able to carry out their duties to the very best of their abilities. These important changes will make sure that victims are supported and heard in a military justice system that continues to evolve as an essential tool for leaders in caring for their people and promoting a culture of respect by ensuring accountability across our institution.”
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff
“The military justice system constantly evolves and the full implementation of Bill C-77 is a critical step towards modernizing the military justice system and bringing it in closer alignment with the civilian criminal justice system. This important evolution of the military justice system puts an essential emphasis on the rights and support of victims of service offences and ensures that the military justice system remains as effective a mechanism as possible for holding all Canadian Armed Forces members accountable for their misconduct.”
Colonel Robin Holman, Acting Judge Advocate General
On May 10, 2018, the Minister of National Defence introduced Bill C-77, An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (the Act) in the House of Commons. The Act passed the Senate without amendment and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.
The military justice system is a separate system of justice with many of the same underlying principles as the civilian justice system and subject to the same constitutional framework. It has exclusive jurisdiction over offences that are military in nature and it has concurrent jurisdiction over most offences created by Acts of Parliament, including the Criminal Code of Canada.
Budget 2022 provided $100.5 million over six years, starting in 2021-22, for a series of measures to advance culture change in the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF, including modernizing the military justice system and bringing into force the Declaration of Victims Rights as set out in the National Defence Act.
The regulatory development process in support of the full implementation of Bill C-77 is the largest and most significant update to the Queen’s Regulations and Orders since 1999.
More than 230 separate regulatory amendments were introduced to the QR&O to support the coming into force of the remaining provisions of Bill C-77 on June 20, 2022.
DND/CAF conducted extensive consultations with stakeholders, subject matter experts, and victims of service offences throughout the process of developing the regulations, policies, and training supporting the Victims’ Rights and Summary Hearing Implementation.
- Victims and Survivors of Service Offences - Canada.ca
- Message from the VCDS: An important milestone in the Victims' Rights and Summary Hearing Implementation - Canada.ca
- Enhancing Victims’ Rights in the Military Justice System: Bill C-77 – Overview - Canada.ca
- New Military Justice – Unit Level course now available on DLN 3.0 - Canada.ca
- Victims’ Rights and the Summary Hearing Process will soon Come into Force - Canada.ca
Department of National Defence
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