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STATEMENT: Protect Our Defenders Calls on Congress to Enact Fundamental Reform to Fix Broken Military Justice System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 28, 2016

***STATEMENT***

PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS CALLS ON CONGRESS TO ENACT FUNDAMENTAL REFORM TO FIX BROKEN MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM AFTER SENATORS INTRODUCE “BAND-AID” LEGISLATION THAT FAILS TO ADDRESS MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT EPIDEMIC

Advocacy group asks Congress to take the lead in creating a professional and impartial military justice system after AP Investigation found Pentagon misled Congress to block reform

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) unveiled legislation intended to address retaliation against survivors of sexual assault in the military. After four years and countless legislative tweaks, including a provision to make retaliation a crime, there has been no improvement in the levels of retribution service members face – a fact documented by both the Pentagon and an independent report from Human Rights Watch. Since 2010, two-thirds of military sexual assault survivors who reported the abuse have faced retaliation from their peers and commanders.

Last week, an Associated Press investigation and Protect Our Defenders report exposed that the Pentagon misled Congress to block much needed reforms, claiming that military commanders are tougher on crime than prosecutors. More than 3,500 people have now signed a petition calling on President Obama to investigate why the Pentagon gave Congress false information about sexual assault prosecutions; calls on the President to reform the broken military justice system before he leaves office.

Today, Col. Don Christensen (ret.), President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:

“We support every effort to stem the disturbing reality that most military sexual assault survivors will be retaliated against simply for reporting their attacks. However, as we have seen, Congress’s incremental attempts to fix this problem so far have had no measurable affect on the rates of retaliation, which remain at 2010 levels,” said Christensen. “The American public is reeling from news that the Pentagon misled lawmakers in order to undermine desperately needed reform. Instead of offering another band-aid measure that fails to address the underlying problem, Congress should take the lead to create a professional and impartial justice system that reflects the democratic principles they have sworn to protect. Commanders should not be in a position to put their fingers on the scales of justice. Experienced prosecutors should decide which cases go forward to trial.”

Associated Press: Pentagon misled lawmakers on military sexual assault cases

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/23aed8a571f64a9d9c81271f0c6ae2fa/pentagon-misled-lawmakers-military-sexual-assault-cases

Debunked: Fact-Checking the Pentagon’s Claims Regarding Military Justice

http://www.protectourdefenders.com/debunked

VIDEO: The Pentagon’s Misleading Claims on Military Justice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF-nFxwbA8U

Washington Post: Pentagon misled Congress about military’s handling of sexual assault cases, report says

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/04/19/to-stop-bill-that-would-reform-military-justice-system-pentagon-misled-congress-report-says

Vox: How the Pentagon misled Congress to stop a law intended to help rape victims

http://www.vox.com/2016/4/18/11450436/pentagon-misled-congress-military-sexual-assault

New York Magazine: AP Report Says the Pentagon Misled Congress on Sexual-Assault Cases Within the Military

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/04/report-pentagon-misled-congress-on-sex-assault.html

About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We are the only national organization solely dedicated to addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including both service members and civilians assaulted by members of the military. We seek reform to ensure all survivors have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.

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