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Senate Has Opportunity to Pass Historic Military Justice Reform

NEW YORK (March 6, 2014) – The Senate is poised to pass critical legislation to protect survivors of military sexual assault and to protect the health and well-being of the nation’s military. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is urging Senators to pass the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), which is scheduled to be voted on this afternoon. The MJIA would put decisions of whether to move cases involving serious crimes to a court martial in the hands of experienced military prosecutors, establishing a more impartial justice system that will balance aggressive prosecution with the rights of the accused.

“Justice for survivors of military sexual assault should not be subject to any more delay or gridlock,” said IAVA Founder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff. “Veterans and supporters know that the current military justice system isn’t working and we need bold reform. The Military Justice Improvement Act is the bold reform we need, and we urge Senators to stand with veterans and pass this absolutely crucial bill.”

Rieckhoff continued: “IAVA is watching closely on this vote and so are veterans – we need this change. MJIA is a critical step to improve the military justice system and combat sexual assault in the military. By putting the decision of whether to move forward to a court martial in the hands of an experienced military prosecutor, the bill would allow the military to aggressively prosecute sexual assault while maintaining the rights of the accused.”

Introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and supported by a bipartisan coalition in the Senate, the MJIA places prosecution decisions in the hands of experienced military lawyers. MJIA ensures that decisions to move to trial will be based on the evidence of the case alone, giving both survivors and the accused confidence in the impartiality of the system. The bill continues to equip commanders with tools to prevent and address sexual assault within their units. IAVA believes the MJIA’s reforms are critical to breaking the status quo of pervasive sexual assault in the military.

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