Former Supreme Court justice Arbour to review harassment and sexual misconduct in DND and CAF

NATIONAL Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjanon Thursday announced the launch of an independent external comprehensive review of current policies, procedures, programs, practices, and culture within the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence (DND).

The aim of this review is to shed light on the causes for the continued presence of harassment and sexual misconduct despite efforts to eradicate it, identify barriers to reporting inappropriate behaviour and to assess the adequacy of the response when reports are made, and to make recommendations on preventing and eradicating harassment and sexual misconduct.

This review will build on the report prepared by former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps in 2015. The Deschamps report was instrumental in identifying what the problem is; this new review will take a broader look at how and why the existing workplace dynamics enable harmful behaviours, and make recommendations on preventing and eradicating harassment and sexual misconduct.

The DND/CAF has engaged Louise Arbour to undertake the review. Arbour served as Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from 1996-1999. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 and served until 2004 when she was appointed as United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Over the coming months, Arbour will provide concrete recommendations on how the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence can set up an independent, external reporting system for defence team members that meets the needs of those who have experienced sexual misconduct. Terms of reference for the review have also been finalized and contain more detail on the scope and nature of the work to be done.

The review is to include the views and defence workplace experiences of current and former DND employees, CAF members, staff of the Non-Public Funds, Canadian Forces (SNPF) employees, and contractors. Arbour will also conduct a review of the recruitment, training, performance evaluation, posting, and promotion systems in the CAF, as well as the military justice system’s policies, procedures, and practice to respond to such allegations. It will consider all relevant independent reviews concerning the DND/CAF, along with their findings and recommendations. Recommendations on establishing external oversight and/or review mechanisms related to misconduct will also be included.

To facilitate these interactions, the Department of National Defence will identify a Liaison Officer who will facilitate timely access to DND and CAF documents, organizations, and to DND employees, SNPF employees, and CAF members.

Both the report and the departmental response to the report will be made public once complete, which is expected in expected in 12 to 15 months from the time the contract is awarded.

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Terms of Reference

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