ARCHIVED - Canadian Forces Military Police and the investigation process into alleged sexual assault offences

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Fact Sheet / February 6, 2014 / Project number: FS CFPM 13.001

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Canadian Forces Military Police take all allegations of sexual offences by CAF personnel seriously, noting that CAF members are held to the highest standards of professionalism and conduct, and are subject to Canadian laws and the Code of Service Discipline.

In all cases within the jurisdiction of the independent Canadian Forces Military Police Group, investigations are conducted to determine the facts, analyze the evidence, and if warranted, prefer appropriate charges.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) is a specialized unit within the Canadian Forces Military Police Group. Its mandate is to investigate serious and sensitive matters relating to CAF personnel anywhere in the world, and offences that occur in, on or about defence establishments. When the CFNIS was established in 1997, one of the areas that came under their purview was sexual assaults.

Reports of sexual assault occurrences

Sexual assault is defined as a criminal act that violates the sexual integrity of a person. The number of reported incidents of sexual assault brought to the attention of the Military Police has remained relatively stable in recent years, as indicated in Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Annual Reports. Statistics in these reports provide an account of military policing during the past year and include all incidents reported to the Military Police, including those investigated by civilian law enforcement agencies, and those that took place on Department of National Defence (DND) property involving civilians. The Military Police records indicate that the matter was reported to and investigated by police – civilian or Military Police, and do not reflect the number of charges or arrests made by the Military Police, or whether allegations were later deemed founded. The latest Canadian Forces Provost Marshal Annual Report can be found at:  http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/about-reports-pubs/index.page

Further context can be found in the 2007 – 2010 Crime Trends for the Canadian Forces report. This report examines all incidents that were reported to the Military Police from 2007 to 2010, regardless of the outcome of the investigation. The statistics published in this report are accurate on the day that they were produced. Due to ongoing police investigations and internal data quality control efforts, this information is subject to change, including addition, deletion and reclassification of any and all data. Therefore figures in this report may not match the figures in Annual Reports.

 

Offence 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Sexual Assault 176 166 166 176 183 139 123

 

As for the disposition of these complaints, the Chief Military Judge website lists the results and decisions of military tribunals which can be viewed at the following link: http://www.jmc-cmj.forces.gc.ca/en/index.page. However, it is important to note that a military tribunal is not the only, and not always the most appropriate means of dealing with a given report of sexual assault.  

Like all statistical information, the interpretation of the data is critical in understanding the relevance of the statistic. For example:

  • Military Police investigate all reported incidents within their area of jurisdiction and a general occurrence file is opened for each incident including those that are reported to them by civilian police.
  • Civilian police agencies can investigate and lay criminal or other civilian charges against DND/CAF personnel within their respective jurisdictions.
  • In some cases it may be more appropriate that charges are laid in the civilian justice system, for example, with some family violence cases, or cases occurring on DND property but not involving persons subject to the Code of Service Discipline.
  • Investigations and prosecution take time. An alleged offence which occurs in one year may take time to be thoroughly investigated and the prosecution of that offence may take place in the subsequent year or years in the most complex cases.
  • As a result of an investigation, there may be a determination that the facts support that no offence has occurred. For example, it may be found that a complaint was made against a person who was not present at the time the offence was allegedly committed. There may also be a determination that the facts support that an alleged offence may have occurred. In such instance, the facts could also support that an alleged offence, different than the one initially reported, has occurred. For example, a complaint of an assault of a sexual nature may more appropriately be determined to be an assault of a physical rather than a sexual nature.
  • Sometimes it is more appropriate that these matters proceed by way of Summary Trial or by Administrative processes rather than through Courts Martial.
  • In matters where the Military Police have determined that there are no grounds to lay a charge against a CAF member, the CFNIS investigator will then report that to the member and his or her chain of command. It is then for the chain of command to determine whether any further disciplinary or administrative steps can or should be taken.

Deployed operations

The Military Police are responsible for providing all police services for the DND/CAF. They exercise jurisdiction over all offences that occur in, on or about a defence establishment, regardless of whether the offence is alleged to have been committed by a military or a civilian person.

Whether operating independently or as part of a multi-national force, CAF personnel remain subject to Canadian law including the National Defence Act. Regardless of mission requirements, the Canadian Forces Military Police Policies and Procedures continue to apply during all CAF operations. All incidents involving CAF members will be investigated in the same manner as if the offence had been committed in Canada.

Where a complaint is made or where there are other reasons to believe that a service offence may have been committed, an investigation shall be conducted as soon as practical to determine whether there are sufficient grounds to justify the laying of a charge.

Non-Canadian members of an international operation are governed by civilian or military laws of their country of origin or by the appropriate Status of Forces Agreement or similar agreement in effect.

Victim Assistance Program

The CF Military Police Group, including the CFNIS, has a wide-ranging victim services program that places the highest priority on support to victims and refers victims to both military and civilian community support services. 

The Victim Services Program is designed to assist victims, especially those of violent crimes, in dealing with the trauma and after-effects that can result from crime. Every Military Police unit involved in the provision of law enforcement operations has the following:

  • a full-time victim services coordinator;
  • an up-to-date listing of local organizations and support groups; and
  • protocols with local agencies or services to ensure the victim receives the required support.

The principles of Victim Services Program are as follows:

  • Every victim, regardless of age, gender, status (military or civilian), rank or military occupation shall be treated fairly, with dignity, respect, courtesy and sensitivity.
  • Every victim shall be provided with immediate information on and referral to support agencies.
  • Every victim shall be provided with regular and continuous contact from the investigating Military Police unit in order to discuss any assistance requirements and to update him/her on the status of the case. This contact shall be maintained throughout the investigative process and during any judicial processes that arise from the investigation.
  • Every victim shall be protected from intimidation, threats, or reprisals that constitute a danger to the victim’s physical or psychological well-being; and
  • Every victim shall have personal property returned to him/her as soon as it is no longer required as evidence.

Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

The CFNIS is a specialized unit within the independent CF Military Police Group. Its mandate is to investigate serious and sensitive matters relating to CAF personnel anywhere in the world, and offences that occur in, on or about defence establishments.

Usually, requests for CFNIS involvement come through regular Military Police organizations, but CAF members and DND employees can lay complaints, or communicate directly with regional offices or individual CFNIS members. Once the CFNIS becomes aware of allegations of a potential criminal or service offence, the organization immediately conducts a review of the information to determine whether or not a CFNIS investigation should be conducted.

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