Under amendments to the Defence Act, which are due to be debated by Parliament, officers and soldiers in the Barbados Defence Force could be suspended from their duties for civil offences.
A new BDF Disciplinary Committee to be headed by “a serving military officer” ranked no lower than Major will be established to take action against those deemed guilty of such things.
“Where an officer or a soldier is charged with a civil offense, the Disciplinary Committee shall determine whether alleged actions of the officer or soldier in respect of the charge … tarnishes the reputation of the Barbados Defence Force…poses a threat to national security or…requires in the public interest that the officer or soldier, as the case may be, ceases to perform his duties in the Barbados Defence Force,” the proposed legislation stated.
“Where the Disciplinary Committee determines that… is established, the Disciplinary Committee shall recommend to the Chief of Staff the form of disciplinary action to be taken against the officer or soldier, as the case may be.”
The amended act, which will allow the Defence Board to appointed members of the committee on on recommendation of the Chief of Staff, said the board would have the power to “suspend an officer or soldier, as the case may be”.
“Where the Defence Board suspends the officer or soldier, as the case may be, the Defence Board shall determine the amount of pay he shall receive during his suspension; but that amount shall not exceed one half the salary to which he would have been entitled had he not been suspended,” it stated.
“The Defence Board shall notify the officer or soldier, as the case may be, of its decision with seven working days of making the decision. The officer or soldier, as the case may be, shall be given 14 working days after the receipt of the notice to reply to the notice and to make objections in respect of the notice, in writing, to the Defence Board through the Chief of Staff.”
“Where an officer or a soldier is suspended… and the charge in respect of which he was suspended is not proved, his salary shall be reinstated to the amount that he was entitled to receive immediately before the suspension,” it added.
It was also pointed out that in addition to the serving military officer serving as chairman, a retired military officer no lower than the rank of Major would be deputy chairman. Other members would include, an attorney-at-law, a Padre appointed by the Barbados Defence Force Chaplain, a recording secretary.
For civil offences by soldiers and officers disciplinary action will include the sanction of a reprimand in writing, suspension of future increments and suspension from the BDF. (SC)