Making Amends

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Canada plans to stop the military from probing and prosecuting alleged sexual offenses within the country’s armed forces, a move aimed at promoting more transparency and a better response to problems identified in a scathing report on the issue earlier this year, Al Jazeera reported.

Defense Minister Anita Anand presented a report to lawmakers vowing to make changes in the way sexual misconduct accusations are handled in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Anand added that she will also act on the recommendations made by former Canadian Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour.

In May, Arbour released a report underscoring the “endemic” issue of misconduct in the armed forces. The former justice found “a deeply deficient culture fostered by a rigid and outdated structure” that did little to modernize.

Arbour noted that she saw “no basis for the Canadian Armed Forces to retain any jurisdiction over sexual offenses.” The May report provided 48 recommendations to tackle the issue.

But the minister’s new report did not offer a timeline for implementing its key recommendations, with Anand saying that it could take years.

The proposed plans also pledge to review military colleges and their culture.

The CAF has been plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault in past years, including accusations against high-ranking officers. Previous efforts to reform have not been successful.

Last year, Anand apologized for the government’s failure to address the problem. The apology was part of a settlement of a class-action lawsuit by thousands of serving and retired members of the military and civilian defense workers.

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