Friday, December 15, 2017

International Society to meet in Lisbon in May 2018

The International Society for Military Law and the Law of War will hold its XIXth Congress in Lisbon. The Congress will have peace operations as its focus. The Society writes:
This Congress will be held at the Altis Grand Hotel in Lisbon (Portugal) from 15 to 18 May 2018.

The central theme is: War, Peace and the Rule of Law

Our central theme closely connects to the publication of the Society's Leuven Manual on the International Law Applicable to Peace Operations with Cambridge University Press later this month of December. The Leuven Manual reflects the current status of the law and associated best practices, and will support senior level commanders and legal advisors in planning and executing peace operations. A copy of the Leuven Manual will be given to all participants during the Congress as part of the package covered by the registration fee.
Further details will appear here in due course.

Sgt. Jenkins dead at 77

Sgt. Charles R. Jenkins
Former U.S. Army Sgt. Charles R. Jenkins, who was convicted in 2004 of desertion and aiding the enemy after crossing into North Korea in 1965, has died in Japan at age 77. His New York Times obituary refers to him as a "Cold War enigma." Excerpt:
At his court-martial, he pleaded guilty to desertion and aiding the enemy. He was demoted to private, stripped of back pay and benefits and given a 30-day jail sentence along with a dishonorable discharge.

“I was released five days early, for good behavior,” he wrote [in “The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, and Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea,” a 2008 autobiography co-authored by Jim Frederick].
His wife and two daughters survive him. 

Gambia court-martial continues

The treason court-martial in Gambia is ongoing, with additional reports of courtroom proceedings here and here. Three things leap out. First, the reporting is detailed, rather than generic, although there isn't any analysis. Second, the proceedings seem familiar in the sense that they broadly resemble what one would expect in a court-martial or, for that matter, a civilian criminal trial in a common law country. And third, the proceedings have been open to the media (and the media are willing to dedicate the resources). The authorities deserve credit for transparency.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What will Pakistan do in response to UN recommendations?

Dawn reports:
The federal government asked the concerned ministries and departments to take "requisite legislative, policy and administrative measures" in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations (UN), calling for the termination of military courts and limiting the role of the army in civil spheres, DawnNews reported on Thursday.
The UN recommendations are those set forth in the Human Rights Committee's August 23, 2017 Concluding Observations as part of Pakistan's Universal Periodic Review. The Concluding Observations stated in pertinent part:
Military courts

23. The Committee is concerned by the extension of the jurisdiction of military courts to cases transferred from the antiterrorism courts and to persons detained under the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation. The Committee is also concerned that the courts have convicted at least 274 civilians, allegedly including children, in secret proceedings and sentenced 161 civilians to death. It is also concerned that some 90 per cent of convictions are based on confessions; that the criteria used for the selection of cases to be tried by these courts are not clear; that defendants are not given the right to appoint legal counsel of their own choosing in practice, nor an effective right of appeal to the civilian courts; and that the charges against the defendants, the nature of evidence and the written judgments explaining the reasons for conviction are not made public. The Committee is further concerned that the military courts have allegedly convicted at least five “missing persons” whose cases were being investigated by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14 and 15).

24. The State party should (a) review the legislation relating to the military courts with a view to abrogating their jurisdiction over civilians and their authority to impose the death penalty and (b) reform the military courts to bring their proceedings into full conformity with articles 14 and 15 of the [International] Covenant [on Civil and Political Rights] in order to ensure a fair trial.

Supreme Court review and typographical errors

Congress provided in 1983 for direct Supreme Court review of decisions of the [now] U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces where that court has granted a petition review. Setting aside the handful of cases that are subject to mandatory CAAF review (cases certified by the Judge Advocates General and capital cases), unless CAAF grants discretionary review, a court-martial appeal cannot be taken to the Supreme Court by petition for a writ of certiorari.

Against that backdrop, consider this December 12, 2017 order in an Army case, from CAAF's Daily Journal:
Petitions for Grant of Review - Summary Dispositions
No. 18-0042/AR. U.S. v. Michael A. Knopik. CCA 20160811. On consideration of the petition for grant of review of the decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals, it is ordered that said petition is hereby granted, and the decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.*
* It is directed that the decision of the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals be corrected to reflect Appellant's middle initial as "A" vice "E."
Because the court granted review, albeit only in order to direct the lower court to correct a typographical error (wouldn't a phone call from one Clerk's Office to another have sufficed?), the entire case, including any Grostefon issues, is now eligible for Supreme Court review. Had there been no typo, it would not be.

The prosecution rests.