Report on sexual misconduct in Canadian military to be released just prior to CANSEC arms show in Ottawa

Published by Brent Patterson on

Ottawa Citizen journalist David Pugliese reports: “Former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour has provided National Defence with a copy of her long-awaited review of sexual misconduct in the ranks.”

Pugliese adds: “The review, requested by the department, is expected to be released to the public by May 30.”

That’s just before hundreds of Department of National Defence personnel, as well as the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and the Minister of National Defence, will be at the CANSEC arms show in Ottawa (June 1-2, EY Centre).

For more on a civil society protest against CANSEC, please click here.

Pugliese further notes: “One senior retired officer told Arbour’s team that National Defence and the Canadian Forces typically respond to sexual misconduct allegations by trying to undercut victims and protect the senior leadership. Sexual misconduct is seen as a public-relations problem, the officer added.”

This past October, CBC reported: “Since early February 2021, 13 senior Canadian military officers — current and former — have been sidelined, investigated or forced into retirement from some of the most powerful and prestigious posts in the defence establishment.”

That article adds: “Experts say they can’t think of another military anywhere else in the world that has seen so many senior leaders swept up in scandal at the same time.”


In July 2020, The Guardian reported: “At least 118 members of the Colombian army have been investigated since 2016 for alleged involvement in sexual abuse against minors, the head of the army has said, amid accusations of sexual violence by soldiers against young girls.”

On June 23, 2021, the BBC also reported: “Temblores [says] it has received reports from 28 protesters who allege they were sexually abused by members of the security forces [since the National Strike began on April 28, 2021].”

In Colombia, the national police are part of the Ministry of National Defence.

WOLA has also noted that when the national strike began “human rights defender Berenice Celeita and her team at the Association for Research and Social Action (Nomadesc) were out in the streets of Cali monitoring and assisting the victims of police violence.”

That article adds: “Currently, Nomadesc represents over twenty cases of victims of this recent police violence. Among these cases are the parents of youth killed by the police, women subjected to sexual abuse, torture survivors, and individuals who have permanent ocular injuries due to the actions taken by security forces.”


And in October 2020, WOLA reported: “The Tlachinollan Human Rights Center based in Guerrero, Mexico recently released a statement regarding the lack of progress in the cases of Inés Fernández Ortega y Valentina Rosendo Cantú, Indigenous women who were sexually tortured by members of the Mexican army in 2002.”

Their article adds: “The Interamerican Court of Human Rights ruled against Mexico in 2010, but the Mexican government has not fully fulfilled the obligations laid out by the court in its judgement.”

In 2016, the Amnesty International Surviving Death report demonstrated that “the Mexican police and armed forces routinely torture and ill-treat women, and that sexual violence is routine during arrest and interrogation.”

Among the recommendations in that report: “Order the prompt withdrawal of the armed forces from public security tasks, for which they are neither trained nor accountable.”


Following the release of the report The Toxic Culture of the RCMP, co-author Pam Palmater said: “If female RCMP officers are not safe from sexual assaults by male officers, it should be no surprise that marginalized Indigenous women and girls are not safe either.”

The concerns that have been raised about sexual violence in relation to the extractive industry and man camps could perhaps be extended to military bases.

WILPF has noted: “Since the first foreign military bases, activists and academics alike have highlighted and condemned the relationship between US military bases and forced prostitution, trafficking, and sexual exploitation of women and girls on or near the bases.”

Given the prevalence of violence against women within the military, violence against women by the Canadian military should also be documented.

There have been reports of Canadian (RCMP) peacekeepers involved in sexual misconduct in Haiti and of Canadian soldiers involved in misconduct Bosnia.

Webinar, May 31

On Tuesday May 31, please join Berenice Celeita from Nomadesc (Colombia) and Quetzalli Villanueva from Tlachinollan (Mexico) who will speak to this reality and the human rights implications of militarization. To register for that webinar, click here.

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