Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lese majeste cases in Thai military courts

Cases involving insults to the monarch (lese majeste) are being referred to the military courts under the current Thai government, according to this report:
[T]he laws of lese majeste, which outlaw insults or criticism of the current monarchy, have been extended in recent years to protect anything connected to the Crown as anxiety over the royal succession mounts.
Last week, two ultra-royalist military officers filed a complaint against Sulak Sivaraksa, 82, over remarks about King Naresuan, who reigned between 1595 and 1605 and is seen as a national hero.
Sivaraksa questioned Naresuan’s victory over a Burmese crown prince in an elephant duel in 1593 at the battle of Nong Sarai.
“Is Naresuan really a hero as they claim?” he reportedly said. “Did anyone of us actually see King Naresuan engaging in an elephant duel?”
Since the military took power in May, all lese majeste cases are being tried by military courts, where there is no possibility of appeal. The offense is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and, with cumulative sentencing, offenders can be sentenced to several decades in jail.
Exam question: what's wrong with this picture? 

Mexican Human Rights Commission report on Tlatlaya deaths

The New York Times is running this story about a report by the Human Rights Commission in Mexico concerning the Tlatlaya killings. The case is certain to test the mettle of the Mexican civilian and military justice systems. Official accounts of the matter have been inconsistent. Some suspects are already in the military justice system, others are in the civilian system.

Retired colonel offers suggestions for fixing Alaska National Guard

Col. Laurie Hummel, USA (Ret)
Laurie Hummel, a West Point alumna and retired Army colonel (and current candidate for the state legislature) has written a powerful op-ed urging a host of actions she believes have to be taken to get the Alaska National Guard back on track. For example:
2. Appoint an independent special prosecutor to address criminal actions not currently enforceable by the Guard’s antiquated, ineffective state version of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. State Guard forces do not fall under the federal UCMJ that our active duty service members and veterans are familiar with. Alaska has been operating under a state UCMJ drawn up pre-statehood. Alaska Statute 26.05: Military Code of Alaska is cumbersome and toothless. For example, Guard commanders have no option to refer offenders for court-martial or non-judicial punishment. Instead, they can only administratively remove someone from service. [State Sen. Lesil] McGuire’s intent to call for a special prosecutor is spot on, and I applaud her for wanting to take this necessary step toward serving justice. 
3. The Legislature must create a viable UCMJ. The Guard must advise and guide but the state’s Military Code is a state statute. This is the province of our Legislature. The heavy lifting for creating a meaningful and effective code is done in committee. This would appropriately be accomplished by the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs. But again, nothing is happening on that front.

Was New Zealand penny wise?

Remember Commodore Kevin John Keat? He's the New Zealand officer who was convicted by the Court Martial following an affair with a civilian employee? He secured a reversal from the Courts Martial Appeal Court but now is back at that court contending, among other things, that he cannot be retried because the service elected not to retain (and pay) him after his contract expired -- thus having lost personal jurisdiction. The Dominion Post reports:
One of the points argued at today's hearing was whether Keat was still subject to the military justice system.
The defence force could have deferred Keat's release to keep open all options in the disciplinary process but it chose not to because it wanted "justice on the cheap" to make an example of him, [defense counsel Michael] Bott said.
The court has taken the case under advisement. 

Trouble in Tenerife

La Provincia reports that a member of the Civil Guard has been convicted under the Military Criminal Code for disobeying a superior's order to sign a report, and has been punished with three months and a day in detention. The Unified Association of Civil Guards has objected to the fact that he has been tried under military law for an offense that would bring administrative sanctions for any other government employee. Another Civil Guard member is awaiting military trial for arguing with a superior.