Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan announced on May 10, 2018, during a press conference, there will be changes made to the Military Justice System. The changes will take effect this coming Fall.
“We have proposed new legislation to better support victims as this is the right thing to do. The new declaration of victims rights is consistent with Canadians Victims Bill of Rights,” said Sajjan. “It will ensure that victims of service offences are heard, informed and protected throughout the process.”
The proposed changes will include victims having the right to seek compensation for losses suffered at the result of an offence; they will have the right to make a formal complaint if they feel as though their rights have been denied or infringed upon; they will have more options when presenting victim impact statements to a court-martial; and victims will now be able to go to a military judge to request an order of protection against the accused.
“We’re also introducing Victim Liaison Officers, who will help victims understand their rights within the Military Justice System and what to expect each step of the way,” said Sajjan.
In addition, military tribunals will consider the circumstances of indigenous offenders when determining sentences.
“This supports our Government’s commitments to repair and renew our relationship with indigenous peoples. As our Prime Minister has said, no relationship is more important to our Government and to Canada than one with indigenous peoples,” said Sajjan.
Lastly, summary trials will be turned into disciplinary summary hearings for minor infractions.
“This means that commanding officers can maintain discipline and efficiency for these minor infractions while more serious offences will be dealt with at a court-martial,” Sajjan added.
The new legislation comes as they prepare the National Defence Act amendment. The amendments aim to strengthen military justice and enhance fairness.
“The changes announced today will further strengthen our ability to create a positive and respectful environment in the Canadian Armed Forces, and we are proud to support an effective military that is ready to defend and protect Canadians at home and abroad,” said Sajjan.