This enactment amends provisions of the National Defence Act governing the military justice system.
It adds a new Division, entitled “Declaration of Victims Rights”, to the Code of Service Discipline, that specifies that victims of service offences have a right to information, protection, participation and restitution in respect of service offences. It adds or amends several definitions, including “victim” and “military justice system participant”, and specifies who may act on a victim’s behalf for the purposes of that Division.
It amends Part III of that Act to, among other things,
(a) specify the purpose of the Code of Service Discipline and the fundamental purpose of imposing sanctions at summary hearings;
(b) protect the privacy and security of victims and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences;
(c) specify factors that a military judge is to take into consideration when determining whether to make an exclusion order;
(d) make testimonial aids more accessible to vulnerable witnesses;
(e) allow witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;
(f) on application, make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory;
(g) in certain circumstances, require a military judge to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor;
(h) provide that the acknowledgment of the harm done to the victims and to the community is a sentencing objective;
(i) provide for different ways of presenting victim impact statements;
(j) allow for military impact statements and community impact statements to be considered for all service offences;
(k) provide, as a principle of sentencing, that particular attention should be given to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders;
(l) provide for the creation, in regulations, of service infractions that can be dealt with by summary hearing;
(m) provide for a scale of sanctions in respect of service infractions and for the principles applicable to those sanctions;
(n) provide for a six-month limitation period in respect of summary hearings; and
(o) provide superior commanders, commanding officers and delegated officers with jurisdiction to conduct a summary hearing in respect of a person charged with having committed a service infraction if the person is at least one rank below the officer conducting the summary hearing.
Finally, the enactment makes related and consequential amendments to certain Acts. Most notably, it amends the Criminal Code to include military justice system participants in the class of persons against whom offences relating to intimidation of a justice system participant can be committed.