Sunday, October 22, 2017

Thailand's military courts

The Bangkok Post has published a tough column by Alan Dawson on a visit to one of Thailand's military courts, under the title "The Intimidation Game." Contrary to contemporary human rights norms, these courts can try civilians. Excerpt:
The military prosecutors don't allow lawyers in their courts but agreed to let two people from iLaw attend. They did not actually shackle them and use duct tape to ensure their silence. The iLaw representatives, however, had to wear special badges at all times, like yellow stars. This was not because they are Jews but because they are worse -- members of a human rights group.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Military Justice Act of 2016 program at GWU

Sponsored by ABA Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law, ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, ABA Criminal Justice Section, ABA GPSOLO: Military Lawyers Committee, National Institute of Military Justice, and Judge Advocates Association

November 1, 2017 | 11:30 a.m.  2:30 p.m.
Light lunch at 11:30 a.m. | Event begins at 12:00 p.m.

THIS EVENT IS FREE

The George Washington University Law School Student Conference Center, Lisner Hall (2nd Floor) 2023 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20052

Opening Presentation: Legislative Background of the Military Justice Act of 2016
COL (Ret. U.S. Army) Patricia Ham, Executive Director, Military Justice Review Group

Moderator: Professor David A. Schlueter, Saint Mary’s University School of Law

Panel 1: Disposition: Offense through Trial; Articles 32 & 33; Pre-Trial Agreements
  1. COL William Smoot, Chief, Criminal Law Division, U.S. Army OTJAG
  2. LTC Sara Root, Chief, Mobile Training Team MJA 2016, U.S. Army OTJAG
  3. MAJ Wes Braun, Chief Joint Service Policy & Legislation, Military Justice Division, U.S. Air Force Legal Operations Agency
  4. LT Alexandra Nica, JAGC, Criminal Law Division, OJAG
Panel 2: Sentencing: Members, Judge Alone, and Sentencing Standards
  1. COL Peter Yob, Special Victim Program Manager, U.S. Army OTJAG
  2. LTC Jay Thoman, Chief, Criminal Law Policy Branch, U.S. Army OTJAG
  3. MAJ Wes Braun, Chief Joint Service Policy & Legislation, Military Justice Division, U.S. Air Force Legal Operations Agency
  4. LT Alexandra Nica, JAGC, Criminal Law Division, OJAG
Closing Presentation: The New Transparency: DoD Pacer-like System; Data Collection Ms. Eleanor Vuono, Member, Military Justice Review Group


RSVP by October 30, 2017 to NSLA@law.gwu.edu

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A step backwards in Brazil

"A military member of the Armed Forces doesn't act as a private citizen, but as the State itself, under its supreme power, and deserves to be judged by a specialized judiciary."

Brazil's Minister of Defense, commenting here on President Michel Temer's approval of legislation transferring from civilian to military jurisdiction serious cases in which the victim is a civilian and the perpetrator is a member of the armed forces

The George III Award for retrograde legislation is hereby conferred on Mr. Temer and the Brazilian Congress.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Judicial Proceedings Panel reports

The Judicial Proceedings Panel (JPP) has issued the following news release:
The Judicial Proceedings Since Fiscal Year 2012 Amendments Panel (JPP) has released its final report-the culmination of three years of the Panel's review and assessment of issues involving judicial proceedings under the Uniform Code of Military Justice related to sexual assault in the Armed Forces.
Over the course of its term, the JPP issued 11 reports to the Secretary of Defense and Congress presenting its research, findings, and recommendations on the topics assigned to it by Congress and on two topics referred by a predecessor sexual assault advisory committee--the Response Systems Panel. The JPP also investigated two additional issues that came to its attention as the Panel conducted its other assessments: retaliation against those who report sexual assault and the rights of victims at the appellate stage of the judicial process.
The Judicial Proceedings Panel Final Report addresses these JPP reports, which can be found on the JPP website at http://jpp.whs.mil. These reports are:
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Initial Report (February 2015)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Restitution and Compensation for Military Adult Sexual Assault Crimes (February 2016)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (February 2016)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Retaliation Related to Sexual Assault Offenses (February 2016)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Statistical Data Regarding Military Adjudication of Sexual Assault Offenses (April 2016)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Military Defense Counsel Resources and Experience in Sexual Assault Cases (April 2017)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Victims' Appellate Rights (June 2017)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Sexual Assault Investigations in the Military (September 2017)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Statistical Data Regarding Military Adjudication of Sexual Assault Offenses for Fiscal Year 2015 (September 2017)
  • Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Panel Concerns Regarding the Fair Administration of Military Justice in Sexual Assault Cases (September 2017)
A five-member independent federal advisory committee tasked by Congress in 2013 to conduct an independent review and assessment of military judicial proceedings for sexual assault offenses since fiscal year 2012, the JPP held 32 public meetings between August 2014 and July 2017 during which the members heard testimony from hundreds of witnesses, including sexual assault survivors and victim advocacy organizations, military leaders, military and civilian prosecutors, defense counsel and victims' counsel, former military judges, victim services personnel, and numerous others. The Panel also received thousands of pages of documents from the Department of Defense, the military Services, and other interested parties.
During three years of review, the JPP has observed and assessed many constructive and important changes to combat sexual assault in the military and improve support for victims. The Panel emphasizes the fundamental importance of a fair and just military justice system to the operational readiness of the United States Armed Forces. As stated in the Judicial Proceedings Panel Report on Panel Concerns Regarding the Fair Administration of Military Justice in Sexual Assault Cases, "It is vital for the military justice system to strike the right balance between the needs of the victim and the needs of the defendant. Both must be properly addressed if the system is to be fair and just, and perceived as such."
The Panel thanks the hundreds of individuals who have contributed their time, insights, and effort to its work, including its staff. The Panel also expresses its thanks to the Secretary of Defense and Congress for their recognition and support.
More information about the JPP, including the full version of this report and testimony and materials considered by the Panel members, is available on the JPP's website at http://jpp.whs.mil.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Egyptian decision not a panacea

The Constitutional Court's decision in Egypt that allocates protest cases to civilian courts rather than military courts may be little cause for celebration. According to this article, the cases will now go to state security courts, which have their own problems. Excerpt:
With the existence of Law 136/2014, which gives military judiciary authority over the protection of vital facilities, the ordinary criminal court saw that the case should be referred to a military court. The latter rejected the case on the grounds that no harming of public facilities actually took place – an argument upheld by the Constitutional Court.
Military trials of civilians have been a source of controversy among human rights defenders. But whether Saturday’s verdict was a victory in that context is debatable. Both [lawyer Negad] El-Borai and [Mokhtar Mounir, a lawyer at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression,] pointed out that State Security Emergency courts would now replace military trials in protest cases.
“Like in the military judiciary, those emergency courts do not protect basic due process,” El-Borai said concerning the rights of the defendants. “As the Cassation Court has to fully re-examine cases, the state may be looking to take off pressure by accelerating the process though emergency courts,” he said.
Mounir pointed out that it is expected that misdemeanor cases related to protests would go to emergency courts, according to a new cabinet decision to refer certain crimes to those courts including violations of the Protest Law.
What about past cases? "Existing verdicts would have to be appealed before the same military judiciary using the Constitutional Court’s verdict." says attorney Mounir.