Saturday, July 21, 2012

The military question...

'I would hope they'd want us all to know why, sir.' 

There are two separate service offences under the Armed Forces Act 2006 which cover disobedience to lawful commands, they are as follows: 

Section 2(3) - Misconduct on Operations: A person to whom this subsection applies commits an offence if he fails to use his utmost exertions to carry out the lawful commands of his superior officers. 

The maximum sentence if found guilty of this offence, is life imprisonment. 

'In my humble opinion, in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself.' 

Section 12(1) - Disobedience to lawful commands: 

(1)A person subject to service law commits an offence if— (a)he disobeys a lawful command; and (b)he intends to disobey, or is reckless as to whether he disobeys, the command. 

The maximum sentence if found guilty of this offence, is two years imprisonment. 

'Captain Ramsey, under operating procedures governing the release of nuclear weapons we cannot launch our missiles unless both you, and I agree.' 

One of the differences between the military and the civilian world is that a service person could lose their liberty for failing to follow a lawful command. Every service person knows and is taught that you disobey an 'order' at your own peril, it has even been said to you that you should obey the order and then 'redress' it afterwards if you feel you have been 'wronged'. 

'Now this is not a formality, sir. This is expressly why your command must be repeated. It requires my assent, I do not give it and furthermore, if you continue upon this course, and insist upon this launch without confirming this message first, I will be forced, backed by the rules of precedents, authority and command, regulation 08150H6 of the Navy regulations, to relieve you of command, Captain.'

You agree with those who say that the nature of the Armed Forces, the fact that those in service operate in war zones, means they need different rules to the rest of those in society. However, Section 2(3) of the Armed Forces Act 2006 covers this, to the letter, the reason for this is clear and this you accept. 

'Captain, I relieve you of your command of this ship. COB, escort the Captain off the bridge, I'm assuming command. CHIEF OF THE BOAT, Captain Ramsey is under arrest — lock him in his stateroom!' 

In most occupations the term 'lawful order' doesn't exist, the term 'reasonable order' however, does. So when you look at the act, you can't help thinking, what is the reason for having the term 'lawful' in section 12(1), when the term 'reasonable' would seem to be far more appropriate? 

'If I'm wrong, then we're at war. God help us all.' 

Crimson Tide is one of your favourite films, it is hard hitting, relevant and shows moral courage should be applauded. You also think it should be compulsory viewing for those undertaking military basic training.........

'The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.'

Nuremberg Principle Four.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The kangaroo court?

The Service Justice System and the Criminal Justice System both operate in the United Kingdom. They are similar, but certainly not identical.

Where they are different, they are different in a way that could be frightening....

Odds: 10/2 - If you are a civilian being tried at crown court for murder, all you have to do is convince two out of twelve of your 'peers' that you are not guilty......

Odds: 4/3 - If you are a member of the Armed Forces being tried at a court martial for murder, all you have to do is convince four out of seven senior members of the Armed Forces that you are not guilty.....

A Court Martial can sentence a person convicted of a service offence to life imprisonment. The jury at the court martial is made up of three to seven serviceman consisting of officers and warrant officers.

A Crown Court can sentence a person convicted of an offence to life imprisonment. The jury at a crown court is made up of twelve men and women, 'peers' of the defendant. The definition of 'peers' is as follows:

'A person who is equal to another in abilities, qualifications, age, background, and social status.'

Imagine being a young enlisted serviceman, on trial for murder at a Court Martial, walking into the court room, finding out that you are going to be judged by not twelve, but seven, that they are not your peers, but are unlike you in most ways possible, and that it will not have to be a unanimous verdict, but a majority verdict, that could send you to prison for the rest of your life.......

Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights states:

'In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.' 

Has somebody missed something of grave consequence here?

'I want you to help me create a new atmosphere in our country, an atmosphere in which we back, revere and support our military.'

David Cameron, The Prime Minister.