These two reports examine the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. The first report, “Adjudication of Sexual Offenses,” addresses how sexual misconduct is treated within the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. Most of these countries incorporate independent review elements and have moved towards more flexibility in the choice of civilian or military courts for adjudications. The second report, “France: Military Justice System,” provides a general overview of the military justice system in France, which aims to treat military personnel in the same manner as ordinary civilians with some exceptions.
Adjudication of Sexual Offenses
This report examines the adjudication of sexual offenses within the military justice system in Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United Kingdom. The report analyzes the current structure of the military justice system, historical developments, recent proposed changes, the handling of sexual offenses, and reviews of the effectiveness of the system. (PDF, 1.08MB)
The current system for serious offenses involves hearings by courts-martial and Defence Force Magistrates, with an independent Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) determining whether to initiate prosecutions and providing advice. Alleged sexual assault offenses must be referred to the relevant civilian prosecutor, while other sexual offenses will also involve advice from the DMP and possible referral to civilian authorities.
Canada has been reducing the role of commanders in its military disciplinary and justice system and has institutionally separated the functions and responsibilities of the main actors in the military justice system. Sexual offenses committed in Canada by military personnel may now be handled by military service tribunals, instead of exclusively in civilian courts.
When Germany reestablished its Armed Forces after World War II, a deliberate decision was made to have criminal offenses committed by soldiers tried in the ordinary courts, and this principle remains in force today. The only existing military courts are disciplinary courts, which have jurisdiction over disciplinary offenses of members of the Armed Forces only.
Israel has established two adjudication mechanisms within its military justice system: court-martial adjudication and disciplinary adjudication. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has issued a number of military orders that deal with disciplinary adjudication, has established a school for military justice, and requires adjudication officers to complete training. The determination of less serious sexual offenses, which are generally not subject to court-martial, have been removed from the chain of command.
The United Kingdom has operated a system of military courts-martial for centuries. UK law preserves the traditional military structure of discipline from within the chain of command for some offenses, but allows for an independent complaints commissioner to hear complaints and refer them back to the complainant’s chain of command.
France: Military Justice System
Military justice in France aims to treat military personnel in the same manner as ordinary civilians, depending on whether the crime was committed on foreign soil or French territory and whether the country was in a time of peace or a time of war. (PDF, 59KB)
Last Updated: 07/24/2020