What is a Board of Inquiry?
In most cases of death or serious injury of a military loved one, the Canadian Armed Forces will hold a Board of Inquiry to look into the incident.
The Board is made up of Canadian Armed Forces members who are chosen with great care by the military in order to avoid any conflicts of interest.
During a Board of Inquiry, the Board members will collect evidence from multiple sources. They will examine the details of the incident to find out what happened and what may have contributed to it. They will also make recommendations to help prevent such an incident from happening again.
In particular, a Board of Inquiry will assess the cause and contributing factors of the injury or death, whether the member was on duty at the time, and whether the injury or death was attributable to military service.
The findings of the Board members are summarized in a final report. After the report is reviewed by the commander who ordered the Board of Inquiry, it is provided to the Chief of the Defence Staff for approval.
The role of the Board of Inquiry is not to lay blame for the death or injury of a military member. It is held in order to review the facts and to learn lessons.
If the Board finds evidence that relates to an allegation of a criminal act or a breach of the Code of Service Discipline, it will refer the matter to a legal advisor and the authority who ordered the investigation. The Board of Inquiry will resume only once this allegation has been investigated by the appropriate authorities.
If you have been designated as the representative of the deceased or seriously injured member, you will be kept informed of the progress of the Board of Inquiry. The president of the Board will act as your point of contact for all issues related to the investigation.
The president of the Board will normally meet with you at the start of the inquiry in order to provide you with information to help you understand the process and the purpose of the investigation.
You will be provided with progress reports throughout the process.
Finally, the president will meet with you once the inquiry is finished to discuss the outcome and provide you with a severed copy of the Board’s report.
It may be possible for you to be present during some or all of testimony of witnesses appearing before the Board. This will depend on several factors, including security or legal issues or the willingness of a witness to testify in front of you.
The Canadian Armed Forces aims to have the Board report approved within one year; however, it depends on the nature and complexity of the incident.
If you have questions or concerns about an ongoing Board of Inquiry, feel free to contact our Office. We can point you in the right direction.
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