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Pentagon to make changes in an effort to curb sexual abuse in the military

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced recently that the Pentagon has plans to revamp how the armed services handle sexual abuse complaints. Hagel’s initiatives include:

  • Strengthening the enforcement of policies banning romantic relationships between recruiters, instructors, and green troops
  • Supporting victims of sexual assault by providing them with legal advice and representation
  • Thoroughly checking whether inspector generals on investigations of sexual assault are handling the cases properly
Democratic Representative of California Jackie Speier, who is one of the more active congressmen when it comes to pushing for changes in how the military deals with the issues of sexual abuse and harassment complaints, welcomed the proposed amendments but said that the Pentagon can go further in instituting and enforcing initiatives.
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Bill strengthening miliatry sexual assault offenders’ punishment passes Senate vote

On June 12, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed a measure that seeks to punish sexual assault offenders in the military, highlighting a provision that would necessitate an automatic review of the case if a commander goes against a military lawyer’s advice to prosecute.

A similar bill authored by New York Senator (Democrat) and Senate armed services personnel committee chairwoman Kirsten Gillibrand that didn’t pass the panel would have prevented military commanders from charging their troops with sexual offenses and would have delegated that duty to military prosecutors only, who Gillibrand said would encourage the reporting of crimes as they are objective and impartial.

Gillibrand’s measure was opposed by the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including Army General Ray Odierno, as it would diminish the commanders’ power to discipline their troops. They added that commanders are more dedicated to prosecuting crime in their ranks than legal staffers.

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