Restoring Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) victims to their rightful place at the heart of the justice system is the intention of the proposed new legislation.
Jason Kenney, Minister of National Defence, last week introduced legislation to provide victims within the CAF justice system with the same rights as those contained within the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
“The Victims Rights in the Military Justice System Act is part of our Governments continued commitment to provide victims with the respect and fairness they deserve,” said Kenney.
The proposed legislation is intended to build upon the Government’s commitment to give victims of offences a more effective voice within Canada’s justice systems and create clear statutory rights for victims of service offences within the military justice system.
It also makes changes to the traditional CAF court martial and summary trial processes to enable victims of service offences to exercise their rights including, right to information, right to protection, right to participation, and right to restitution.
To help ensure that victims are properly informed and positioned to access their rights, the proposed legislation provides for the appointment of a Victim Liaison Officer when a victim requests this appointment.
According to the Government of Canada website in any case where a victim of a service offence believes that his or her rights under the Code of Service Discipline Declaration of Victims Rights have been breached, he or she would also have a right to file a complaint in accordance with regulations, in much the same way as is provided for victims in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
Kenney says the proposed amendments to the National Defence Act will further enable the military justice system to fulfill its essential mandate of supporting the CAF operational effectiveness, while meeting the expectations of Canadians by contributing to the rule of law and to a just and safe society.
The Victims Rights in the Military Justice System Act will also reinforce Canada’s position as a global leader in the development of a fair and effective military justice system with broad statutory rights for victims of service offences.
This legislation is the result of a longstanding Government commitment announced by the Minister of Justice on April 9, 2014, declaring the CAF would incorporate victims rights within the military justice system.
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