Fischer Introduces Amendment to Strengthen Protections for Victims of Military Sexual Assault Senators Fischer, McCaskill, and Ayotte introduce amendment to annual defense bill that adds to list of historic reforms, increases protections and options for survivors
PoliticalNews.me - Nov 18,2013 - Fischer Introduces Amendment to Strengthen Protections for Victims of Military Sexual Assault
Senators Fischer, McCaskill, and Ayotte introduce amendment to annual defense bill that adds to list of historic reforms, increases protections and options for survivors
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) announced a new set of bipartisan provisions to strengthen and augment the already historic reform package that passed the Armed Services Committee in June to curb military sexual assault.
"All along I have said that while we must deal with sexual offenders, we can’t lose sight of the victims. This amendment keeps that important focus. These changes, both in our amendment and in this year’s NDAA, are significant. But importantly, they are also serious and thoughtful – and they are based on sound policy. Changes to the UCMJ should come after a deliberate and transparent process, with input from all sides. This amendment is the product of such an effort," said Fischer.
“This has always been about a very simple concept—what can we do to make prosecutions successful and what can we do to protect victims,” said McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor of sex crimes. “That’s the only yardstick that matters to me.”
The amendment includes a host of reforms, attached and available online HERE, and including:
•Eliminating the Good Soldier Defense ◦Modifies the Military Rules of Evidence to prevent defendants from using good military character unless it is directly relevant to an element of the crime for which they are charged.
•Allows Victim Input in Prosecution of Perpetrators ◦Requires Special Victims Counsels to advise victims of the advantages & disadvantages of a case being prosecuted in the military or civilian justice system and provides victims the opportunity to express their preference on where the case is heard, giving a victim a greater degree of control of his or her case.
•Allows Sexual Assault Victims to Challenge Their Discharge or Separation from Service ◦Requires the services to set up a confidential process that will enable a victim of a sexual assault who was subsequently discharged to challenge the terms or characterization of his or her discharge—in order to take a retrospective look at possible instances of retaliation.
•Strengthens the Role of the Prosecutor in Advising Commanders on Going to Court Martial ◦In the event a prosecutor recommends a case go forward and the commander disagrees, under the amendment, the case is kicked up for review to the civilian service secretary, providing yet another level of review in these cases when needed. The NDAA currently requires the higher-level review only when there is disagreement between the commander and his or her legal counsel/judge advocate.
•Boosts Accountability of Commanders for Addressing Sexual Assault & Setting Appropriate Command Climate ◦Strengthens evaluations for commanding officers and the command climate they establish as it relates to allegations of sexual assault and the way victims of crimes are treated within the unit following reports.
•Extends Protections to the Military Service Academies ◦Clarifies that all changes