Military Justice Act 2016: Victim Rights

Thursday, November 29, 2018

What is it?

The Military Justice Act of 2016 (MJA 16) is designed to improve the military justice system by enhancing its efficiency and effectiveness while sustaining good order and discipline. MJA 16 will go into effect on Jan.1, 2019,and contains several changes of significant importance to eligible patrons of the Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) Program. Those changes include enactment of Article 6B, Victim Rights.

Changes to Article 6B enhances Victim Rights during Article 32 hearings. A victim’s prior sexual behavior or sexual predisposition will not be admissible at a preliminary hearing, except under very narrow circumstances. Once it goes into effect, the MJA16 will afford victims the opportunity to provide additional information they believe is relevant to the convening authority’s (CA) disposition of charges and specifications. A victim will have 24 hours after the completion of the Article 32 hearing to provide the CA the supplementary information.

Article 6B will make the process simpler for someone to assume the rights of the victim (e.g., legal guardians of the victim, representatives of the victim’s estate, Family members, or any other person designated suitable by Military Justice in the case for victims under the age of 18, or who are incompetent, incapacitated, or deceased). The MJA 16 also ensures a victim receives a copy of the Statement of Trial Results and Entry of Judgment at the conclusion of any court-martial, and permits a victim to request a copy of the record of trial.

What are the current and past efforts of the Army?

The Army SHARP Academy, for full-time SHARP professionals, is responsible for advising sexual assault victim of their rights. This academy, located at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is updating SHARP curriculum in fiscal year 2019 to highlight the impending MJA 16 changes.

Additionally, the Office of the Judge Advocate General has updated its curriculum to ensure Staff Judge Advocates are aware of the new provisions in Article 6B and can better service sexual assault victims.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

The Army will continue to focus on ensuring command teams have the resources to effectively execute the SHARP program. These resources include innovative and progressive training and education, and credentialed SHARP personnel to assist in their prevention and response efforts.

Why is this important to the Army?

Prevention of sexual assault/harassment is the primary focus of the Army SHARP Program. If incidents do occur, the Army wants to ensure victims receive exemplary support and victim advocacy services. Implementation of Article 6B is reflective of the continual improvement Army Senior Leaders expect when it comes to execution of the Army SHARP program.


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