Military sex crimes a ‘scourge’ that must be handled by civilians: former military leaders

Click to play video: 'Few military police investigators are women'
Few military police investigators are women
WATCH: A Global News investigation has found that less than a quarter of Canadian military police investigators who lead probes into sexual misconduct allegations are women. David Akin reports on the latest example of gender imbalance within the Canadian Armed Forces – May 8, 2021

Sexual misconduct is a “scourge” in the Canadian Forces and the institution should no longer be in charge of probing such allegations, says one prominent think tank of former top military leaders.

In a statement Monday, the Conference of Defence Associations & The CDA Institute said its members — many of whom were among the top brass of the military while serving and remain influential in the defence establishment — believe the time has come for sexual crimes to be handled externally.

READ MORE: New military judges will be required to take sexual assault law training

The think tank said many of its members recognize that “we did not do enough to address this scourge that is eating away at a storied and essential national institution” and praised those coming forward.

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“To those who raised the alarm and raised their voices, we want to say that we have heard you, and we believe you,” members said in the statement. “We also realize, as former senior leaders, that we collectively failed those that have been harmed during their military service.”

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The statement goes on to urge the government not to wait to act until the completion of an independent, external review into the problem that is now underway and led by former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour. In particular, the think tank urged action to fix the military justice system.

“Many former CAF senior leaders believed for operational reasons that the investigation and prosecution of sexual misconduct cases should rest within the system of military justice,” the statement said.

“It is increasingly clear that the status quo is not acceptable and we believe that the only way forward is to ensure that all allegations of sexual crimes involving CAF members should be handled or have oversight by civilian authorities.”

The military’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations has been at the centre of what experts describe as an institutional crisis for the organization as it reckons with military police probes into senior leaders.

Those were launched in the wake of exclusive reporting by Global News on Feb. 2.

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