Army cannot specify outcome of criminal sex cases transferred to civilians
National Defense Minister Anita Anand has ordered the military police to begin referring such cases to civilian authorities in November 2021.
Military police don't know – or refuses to say – how many charges have been filed following the transfer to civil authorities of dozens of files involving criminal sexual acts.
Experts have criticized this lack of response, as they believe it is important data in order to assess whether the decision to transfer responsibility for investigation to civil authorities and prosecuting sexually oriented cases brings real results.
Minister of National Defence, Anita Anand, ordered the military police to begin referring such cases to civilian authorities in November 2021, following ;a recommendation by retired Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour.
Arbor had made the recommendation during a review of the Canadian Armed Forces' handling of allegations of sexual misconduct. She explained that this change was necessary to dispel widespread public mistrust and doubt of the military justice system.
As early as October 2021, Ms Arbor had suggested to the government that the military should no longer be responsible for handling allegations of sexual misconduct.
Military Police have revealed in recent weeks that they have transferred 57 sex-related case files to civilians since November 2021, but it remains unclear how many charges have resulted from these transfers.
According to military police spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Jamie Bresolin, Canadian Armed Forces investigators are working with their civilian counterparts to gather information in these files.
But when clarifying how many investigations have resulted in charges, Bresolin said civilian investigators are not required to do so. inform the Military Police of the status or findings of their investigations.
Several investigations are still ongoing, Bresolin said in an emailed response to questions from The Canadian Press.
“While we work with our civilian police partners to gather information relating to investigations involving members of the Armed Forces, they have no obligation to provide information to the Military Police or the Armed Forces about the status or result of their investigations.
—Excerpt from the statement of Lieutenant Commander Jamie Bresolin
Mr. Bresolin also did not provide details on why civilian police refused to take on another 40 cases involving alleged sex crimes, which ended up being the subject of investigation. x27;an investigation by the military police.
We will not provide a breakdown of why these cases were denied by civilian police and we will not identify the police department involved, he wrote.
There are many complexities when it comes to transferring records from one civilian police service to another, he argued .
Asked about the number of such investigations that led to charges, Mr. Bresolin mentioned that the most senior military police officer, Brigadier General Simon Trudeau, intends to provide a comprehensive overview in his annual report. who could provide this type of information as it becomes available.
This lack of precision on the part of the military has disappointed several experts, who have argued that such details are essential to understanding what is really going on in the army. regard to cases of alleged criminal sexual behavior in the military – and whether recent changes are working or not.
This is unacceptable, said retired University of Ottawa professor Holly Johnson, who is also principal investigator of Statistics Canada's first national survey of violence against women.
If we can't keep track of the progress of cases and learn when there are charges, we have no way of knowing if there are any. This is good policy, she protested.
Charlotte Duval-Lantoine, who studies military sexual misconduct for the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said the refusal to provide information on why cases are denied by civilian police was also a source of concern.
Explaining why these cases are being denied could give complainants, the department and the public a more complete picture of the problems the Armed Forces are facing regarding the transfer of jurisdiction, he said. she asserted.
Retired Lt. Col. Rory Fowler, who is now a civilian lawyer specializing in military affairs, said without further details that the military police were ultimately not doing than tossing around numbers that we can attach very little meaning to.
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