Uniform Code of Military Justice

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The Uniform Code of Military Justice is the primary means by which the U.S. Military enforces discipline. It includes both high crimes punishable by death, and matters which would, in civilian life, be considered serious employment infractions. It also contains what amounts to catch all common law crime provisions, "Conduct Unbecoming" (Article 133) and the "General Article" (Article 134).

Procedurally, the Uniform Code is the most protective of the rights of the accused that it has ever been, although conviction rates under the Code remain very high (approaching 99%). The most active substantive concerns expressed about the Uniform Code involve its continued criminalization of adultery, after almost all state statutes of decriminalized it, a definition of rape which includes only rape by force and not the more common civilian definition that also includes essentially all non-consentual sex, and its prohibition of consentual homosexual activity.

A number of commentators has suggested that the Courts-Martial created by the Uniform Code of Military Justice would be a more fair approach to dealing with suspected Enemy Combatants than the military tribunals created on an ad hoc basis at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba which have been widely criticized as kangaroo courts and aren't well understood even by the hand picked soldiers charged with implementing them.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 2, by its own terms, applies to members of the Armed Forces of the United States of various types, government officials assigned to military units, certain individuals accompanying military units, "Prisoners of war in custody of the armed forces", and "In time of war, persons serving with or accompanying an armed force in the field." Thus, it appears that the Uniform Code of Military Justice (which is a Congressional enactment) specifically provides that it is the method for trying such individuals.

A full copy of the UCMJ can be found at http://www.army.mil/references/UCMJ/ A full copy of the Manual For Courts-Martial, the prodcedural guide of military justice, rules of evidence, specifics of military law, etc can be downloaded as a (large) PDF file from http://www.jag.navy.mil/documents/mcm2000.pdf

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