Co-authored by Mike “No Man” Navarre
Egyptian Unrest May Lead to Military Trials of Civilians
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, here, that the “worst sectarian violence” since the Egyptian uprising began took place on Sunday after a peaceful protest against attacks on churches turned into a riot resulting in the deaths of 26 people. There has been some confusion about what this outbreak of violence means for the trial of protesters in military courts. AlMastry AlYoum reports that while the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said that arrested protesters will not be tried in military courts, the Justice Minister clarified that those crimes which took place in “the military domain” still fall under their jurisdiction. In the case of many of these protesters, this includes those that used violence against members of the military and in some situations unarmed civilians.
Canada’s Military Justice System Gets a Face-lift
The Minister of National Defence in Canada introduced legislation aimed at strengthening the judicial independence of military judges, providing more flexible sentencing guidelines, and improving the representativeness of the court martial panel. As a Canadian Defence Forces background piece on the new legislation, here, summarizes, the bills come in response to the recent decision of the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada in R. v. Leblanc and adopt recommendation from a nearly decade old report by former Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Lamer. As we previously noted, here, the court determined that the provisions in the National Defence Act and the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces regarding the appointment and retirement of military judges “do not sufficiently respect judicial independence as required by section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” The bills were prepared during a six month grace period before the Court’s opinion invalidating portions of the Code of Service Discipline went into effect. The bills can be viewed here.
ArmyTimes on “Sexting” And Military Justice
According to the Army Times, here, defense attorneys have seen a “spike in inquiries from service members accused of crimes or violations stemming from [sexting].” The report notes that while sexting — the exchange of sexually explicit images and messages via digital media – is legal between adults, like any other activitiy permitted in civilian life, in the military it can constitute fraternization or lead to charges under the UCMJ or other action if deemed inappropriate under the circumstances. The article also notes that some “single service members and couples embrace discreet sexting as a means to maintain a romantic connection through long deployments and other times of extended separation.” With the apparent increase in sexting among troops, the Army may respond with a policy to address the activity because none currently exists.