Gap Closed on Information Disclosure to Complainants of Sexual Misconduct

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One of the consistent observations made by victims who reported sexual misconduct is that they were not being informed about administrative actions imposed on those that had caused them harm. This issue was also highlighted in the Office of the Auditor General’s (OAG) Fall 2018 Report on Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour – Canadian Armed Forces, which noted that “due to obligations in the Privacy Act, in many cases, the chain of command did not tell victims whether administrative actions had been taken and why.”

Recognizing the importance of keeping victims of sexual misconduct fully informed throughout the complaint and investigation process, the CAF has worked with privacy experts to address this issue.

As a result, commanding officers can now provide victims with information about the outcomes and conclusions of administrative reviews related to their complaint, as well as administrative actions imposed by the chain of command on the person who caused them harm. This approach is consistent with what is already done in cases of harassment.

The process amendment reflects the principles of procedural fairness, while still maintaining important privacy protections. For example, the CAF will not disclose information about actions/measures that include highly sensitive personal information, such as medical or psycho-social assessments or treatment.

This important amendment will have a positive impact on victims and is part of the CAF’s ongoing efforts, through Operation HONOUR, to better support those affected by sexual misconduct.

The CAF has informed personnel of this process change through internal means. Details about its application have also been noted in the Operation HONOUR Manual and the Sexual Misconduct Incident Management Decision Tree, two essential guidance documents that help leaders respond appropriately to incidents and support victims. Commanding officers are also encouraged to contact the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre whenever they need advice on providing support to those affected by sexual misconduct.

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