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Military Justice

The NZDF Annual Report on the Military Justice System is now available to view online.

02 November, 2022

The move is in line with the Defence Force’s policy around transparency and informing the public of its processes.

New Zealand’s military justice system is a separate and parallel system of justice that forms an integral part of the New Zealand legal system. It also shares many of the same underlying principles as the civilian criminal justice system.

The report details data collected on judicial cases over the 2021/22 financial year. During that period a total of 426 Summary Trials (dealing with 590 offences) were heard. There were five appeals to the Summary Appeal Court.

Four trials were heard in the Court Martial of New Zealand and there were two appeals to the Court Martial Appeals Court.

Chief of Defence Force, Air Marshal (AM) Kevin Short, welcomed the move to make the information public.

“Publishing the report is integral in ensuring our systems and processes are transparent to the public.

“We hold our people to a high standard and publishing the report on the NZDF website shows we are effective in holding the actions of our people to account, should they behave in a manner contradictory to military rules and regulations,” AM Short said.

Alongside public transparency, making the report public will also have a deterrence effect on personnel, making it clear that certain actions have defined consequences, he said.

The military justice system currently has a two-tiered structure comprised of a summary system and the Court Martial of New Zealand. 

Information about Summary Trials and Court Martials, along with appeal decisions are included in the report. Summary Trial information is categorised by service, rank and gender. The types of offenses tried are also listed.

Punishments imposed by Summary Trial and Court Martial are also detailed in the report.

The military justice system is designed to promote the operational effectiveness of the New Zealand Armed Forces by contributing to the maintenance of discipline, efficiency, and morale, while ensuring that justice is administrated fairly and with respect to the rule of law.  These objectives give rise to many of the substantive and procedural differences that distinguish the military justice system from the civilian justice system.

Read the Annual Report on the Military Justice System