Today, addressing the Independent Review Commission and Secretary of Defense recommendations that prosecution of sexual assault should be removed from the chain of command, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued the following statement:
“Today’s recommendations from the Independent Review Commission and Secretary of Defense continue to add momentum to efforts to reform the military justice system. It is a historic sign of progress that after decades of obstruction, the Secretary of Defense has agreed that the removal of sexual assault prosecutions from the chain of command and professionalization of military justice would benefit survivors and in no way diminish good order and discipline. However, the recent scandals at Ft Hood, the murder of Vanessa Guillén and the deep racial disparities in prosecutions, have shown that the need for reform in the military justice system is far broader. We must resist the urge to create a separate but unequal system of justice within the military and must guarantee a professional, unbiased system for all service members. Vanessa Guillén’s memory deserves no less.
When Congress returns to session this month, I plan to once again call for an immediate debate and vote on the bipartisan and filibuster-proof military justice reform bill that has so far been blocked by those who seek less reform. It is the constitutional duty of Congress to provide oversight and accountability over the Department of Defense, and I look forward to continuing our work, building on today’s progress and passing the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act this year.”