President Biden mentioned Friday that he needed the navy to take away the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault instances from the management of commanders, a sea change for the navy justice system.
An impartial fee formally really useful to Protection Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III this week that sexual assault, sexual harassment and associated instances be shifted to particular victims prosecutors outdoors of the chain of command within the navy, one thing navy leaders have lengthy resisted, arguing that it will hinder order and self-discipline.
“Sexual assault is an abuse of energy and an affront to our shared humanity,” Mr. Biden mentioned in a ready assertion. “And sexual assault within the navy is doubly damaging as a result of it additionally shreds the unity and cohesion that’s important to the functioning of the U.S. navy and to our nationwide protection.”
Whereas Mr. Austin and Mr. Biden have supported the findings of the fee — that are all however sure to obtain pushback from officers from some branches of the navy — will probably be as much as Congress to vary the navy legislation.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has a bipartisan measure that may overhaul the way in which the navy prosecutes sexual assault but in addition different critical crimes, which some lawmakers imagine is essential in adjudicating instances just like the one involving Military Specialist Vanessa Guillen. Regulation enforcement officers mentioned she was killed by another soldier at Fort Hood final yr.
Her invoice has gained assist from at the very least 70 members of the Senate — together with many who voted against the same bill in 2014, arguing it will undermine commanders. Reconciling her invoice with the imaginative and prescient of the fee will now be within the arms of lawmakers.
In 2019, the Defense Department found that there have been 7,825 studies of sexual assault involving service members as victims, a 3 p.c improve from 2018. The conviction charge for instances was unchanged from 2018 to 2019; 7 p.c of instances that the command took motion on resulted in conviction, the bottom charge because the division started reporting in 2010.
“I wish to acknowledge the expertise of our service members who’ve survived sexual assault and the bravery of those that have shared their tales with the world and advocated for reform,” Mr. Biden mentioned, including, “I hope this announcement affords some reassurance that the Division of Protection management stands with you, beginning together with your commander in chief.”