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26,000 Reasons for Military Justice Reform

Sexual violence must be prosecuted outside the chain of command.

Mai Fernandez, Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, will be available for comment.

Contact: Kath Cummins, 202.590.0837, kcummins@ncvc.org

After the shocking revelations of a 35% increase in the Pentagon's own reporting of sexual assaults since 2010, the National Center for Victims of Crime today reiterated its long-time stance that victims of sexual violence in the US Military deserve the same independent systems of justice that civilian victims have.

"There are now at least 26,000 reasons why Congress should take the military justice system out of the chain of command," said National Center Executive Director Mai Fernandez.

The National Center urges the Secretary of Defense to put before Congress a broad-ranging set of reforms across all branches of the military, and including the elite military academies at Annapolis, West Point and Colorado Springs.

Congressional reforms should include:
  • Overhaul of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to take the prosecution of sexual assault out of the chain of command.

  • Enshrining victims' rights in the UCMJ. Without codifications, these important protections will not have the weight and authority to be enforced in military proceedings.

  • Extending the pioneering program of the Air Force so that independent special victims attorneys are available in all branches of the US military.These independent advocates offer a specialized counsel that coordinates all the legal and non-legal services that have to be understood and navigated by victims.

"President Obama has made clear that he expects real consequences for those members of the military who engage in sexual violence, that perpetrators must be held accountable, and their careers ended if they are convicted," said Ms. Fernandez.

"If we value the morale in our military and our reputation around the globe we must end the tolerance of sexual violence, and give military men and women who are victims of sexual violence the rights and protections they deserve."

The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation’s struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives.