Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Canadians are comi--are here

Military.com informs us that:
The Pentagon has reached into the private sector to find an overseer of the Guantanamo war court, selecting one-time FBI lawyer Harvey Rishikof for a job that has been held by retired general officers or lawyers with Department of Defense experience.
The Convening Authority for military commissions has responsibilities that range from combing through U.S. military officers' personnel records for jury pools to deciding whether to fund defense staff, travel and experts. The Convening Authority also can negotiate plea agreements with war-on-terror captives at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and decide whether the Pentagon prosecution can pursue a death-penalty case.

Rishikof, [was] born in Canada but [is] a U.S. citizen[.]

Return of military courts in Ukraine?

Ukraine News Agency reports:
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko plans to propose the restoration of special military courts, according to current international practice, since military experts, rather than civilian experts, should evaluate the actions of military commanders in a combat situation. 
"First of all, being a commander-in-chief, I can not remain silent after the verdict of one of the civil courts that sentenced the military general [Viktor Nazarov] to serve seven years imprisonment term," Poroshenko wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday. 
He noted that over the past three years the Ukrainian army has brought up a new generation of "self-motivated, and sometimes desperate commanders who provide defense for our Ukraine." 
"It would be foolish to restrain them with judicial decisions from the point of view of ensuring the defense capability and security. That's exactly why I plan to propose the restoration of special military courts in accordance with existing international practices. 
Military experts, military professionals and military judges, rather than civilians, should evaluate the actions of commanders in a combat situation. At least, now, while this terrible insidious hybrid war is going on," the president said. 
"Justice, of course, must be achieved at court, but the decisions of military courts will not be put in doubt by our soldiers," the president said. 
He noted that the Ukrainian military fulfill their duty to protect Ukraine, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. "I understand the grief of the families. But the enemy who has treacherously invaded our land is truly responsible for the death of our heroes. The only justification for these deaths is the approach of an inevitable victory," Poroshenko wrote. 
As earlier reported, on March 27 Pavlohradsky court found guilty and sentenced to a seven-year jail term Ukrainian General Viktor Nazarov, who was charged with dereliction of duty leading to the crash of the Il-76 military transport plane of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the summer of 2014. 
As it was reported, during the night of June 14, 2014 a hand-held rocket launcher fired at the transport plane as it was landing at Luhansk airport. There were 40 Ukrainian servicemen aboard and nine members of the plane's flight crew. All died. 
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine created a special commission to look into the reasons for the crash. General Nazarov was thereafter served a notice of suspicion that he bore responsibility.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

L'injustice des procès sommaires au Canada

Le système de procès sommaires est demeuré inchangé au Canada au cours des 328 dernières années. Sa caractéristique première et principale: un déni pour l’accusé de droits fondamentaux pourtant offerts aux accusés traduits devant les tribunaux civils.

Un procès sommaire au Canada n’est régi par aucune règle de preuve. L’accusé est un témoin contraignable et peut être contraint de s’incriminer malgré le privilège contre l’auto-incrimination garanti par la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés de la personne. Son silence peut déboucher sur une inférence négative et préjudiciable. Son époux ou épouse ne bénéficie pas du privilège rattaché aux communications entre époux faites durant le mariage, faisant ansi fi du privilège conféré par la Loi sur la preuve au Canada.

Toujours dans la même foulée, le oui-dire et les témoignages d’opinion sont admissibles. Il n’existe pas de transcription des procédures et des témoignages qui ont cours et lieu à un procès sommaire. Seules les sentences et les peines sont consignées sur un document sommaire. Comme si cela n’était pas suffisant, il n’y a pas de droit d’appel à un tribunal judiciaire soit à l’encontre d’un verdict rendu par un Commandant, soit d’une sentence qu’il a imposée qui priverait l’accusé de sa liberté.

L’accusé n’a pas droit d’y être représenté par avocat. En lieu et place, le Commandant doit lui assigner un de ses officiers subalterns pour l’aider à préparer sa défense. À l’instar de son Commandant, cet officier n’a pas de formation légale. Il n’a aucune obligation de confidentialité à l’égard de l’accusé et il va de soi que le privilège avocat-client ne s’applique pas.

Le procès sommaire se déroule sous la présidence du Commandant qui,n’ayant pas de formation légale, doit se débrouiller avec quelques notions procédurales de base qui lui sont fournies par le bureau du Juge-avocat général.

La validité constitutionnelle des procès sommaires a été ouvertement remise en question par plus d’un expert. Comme il n’y a pas d’appel à un tribunal judiciaire des décisions qui y sont rendues, la contestation constitutionnelle doit être exercée par les voies de recours du droit administratif.

Le procès sommaire s’écarte des principes les plus fondamentaux et élémentaires d’équité. De ce fait il ne saurait devoir, encore moins pouvoir, continuer d’exister dans sa forme actuelle puisque personne ne doit et ne peut être privé de sa liberté, sauf au terme d’un procès juste et équitable présidé par un tribunal compétent, impartial et indépendant de la chaîne de commandement. Ces trois caractéristiques qui sont gages de justice sont précisément ce qui manque aux procès sommaires.

Le Canada pourrait et devrait faire le nécessaire pour mettre en place la réforme, ou une réforme analogue, effectuée par le Royaume-Uni et d’autres pays, soit créer une Cour d’appel des procès sommaires où l’accusé retrouve l’ensemble des droits normalement conférés à une personne poursuivie pour une infraction de nature pénale. Il est aussi loisible au législateur de décriminaliser la compétence attribuée aux procès sommaires en limitant celle-ci à des infractions purement disciplinaires ne pouvant déboucher sur une peine de détention ou une peine qui donne naissance à un dossier criminel.

Sgt. Blackman's sentence reduced to 7 years

Royal Courts of Justice, London
The Court Martial Appeal Court today resentenced Royal Marines Sgt. Alexander Blackman to seven years imprisonment, following the court's earlier decision to sustain a conviction only of manslaughter, vice murder. He may be released soon given the normal policy of release after service of half the sentence. The court's sentencing decision can be found here. The court also released its reasons for judgment on an application by the media for the release of video clips. That can be found here.

Military related disputes in the Chinese courts



On March 12, Supreme People's Court (SPC) President Zhou Qiang gave his report on the work of the people's courts to China's legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC).  For the first time (in at least several years), he reported on the number of certain military-related cases. The single sentence (in Chinese) requires some decoding for readers outside of the Chinese legal profession:
Deeply developed military rights related work. Vigorously promoted the Xinyang model and the East Henan and Anhui models, vigorously promoted the construction of civilian/military coordination mechanisms to protect military related rights in each military area. Military courts and civilian courts tried 1678 cases of destruction of military facilities, leaking of military secrets, destruction of military marriage etc., effectively protected the legal rights and interests of national defense security and military personnel and dependents. (深入开展涉军维权工作。大力推广涉军维权工作“信阳模式”“鄂豫皖模式”,积极推进各战区涉军维权军地协作机制建设,军事法院和地方法院依法审理破坏军事设施、泄露军事秘密、破坏军婚等案件1678件,切实维护国防安全和军人军属合法权益.)
A bit of amateur decoding of this sentence follows:
  • The Chinese military courts, unlike the civilian courts, do not publish regular reports on the cases that they hear. Therefore we cannot not know how many of which type of cases were tried.  We do know that Chinese military legal academics would like to see more transparency. 
    • This observer surmises that most of the cases were in the "etc." category, i.e., involved civil disputes over the termination of paid services by the military.  Some of these cases have been previously reported on this blog.  The Tianjin courts dealt with 418 (81% settled)   and searches of reports in local courts reveal dozens of cases, with articles stressing giving these cases priority, settling them and avoiding confrontation with disgruntled civilians.A report on the accomplishments of a Beijing court in supporting the military reveals an example of the type of case that end up in court--a real estate development project involving a military party in which the developers had not issued ownership certificate to owners, making 100 purchasers very angry. The Beijing court, which designated a group of judges to deal with military related cases, resolved the dispute successfully.
  • On cases of destruction of military facilities, a search of one of the Chinese judgment databases revealed 11 cases in 2016, including a case in which a teenaged boy stole electric cable from a military installation (he was given a suspended sentence and another one in which a man used a slingshot to damage a military guardpost).
  • No cases involving the crime of the destruction of military marriage could be found in any of the judgment databases, but the Shanghai-based English-language outlet Sixthtone published this report on a Beijing case reported in the press. Research by this observer on this issue revealed a 2001 document issued by the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army on Marriage Law questions restricting who, how, and when officers and soldiers can marry, and forbidding cohabitation before marriage. FAQ on the document found here--"are you dating? Make a report! Are you planning to get married, make a report! So you want to get divorced? You don't make the final decision.
  • The only cases involving the leaking of military secrets found in the judgments databases were a few rulings on applications for parole or sentence reduction of persons previously convicted of leaking military secrets.
  • The Xinyang and East Henan and Anhui models appear to be models to involve the local military/Party/government authorities to prioritize and resolve favorably military/civilian disputes.  
In January, 2017, the SPC issued a policy document on providing judicial protection to the termination of paid services by the military/armed police. As is usual with military-related legal documents, the full text has not been released. The summary contains few specific details, and primarily stresses that the courts should support the military and armed police in terminating paid services and should work with local authorities in doing so.