The Military Prosecution Service
Denmark maintains a separate military justice system for the Armed Forces comprising criminal justice operated by the Military Prosecution Service and summary proceedings operated by the chain of command. Accordingly, the Military Prosecution Service is the sole competent authority to investigate and prosecute military criminal cases. The purpose of military justice is to safeguard the efficiency and readiness of the armed forces through maintaining order and discipline in compliance with international law.
The organization and responsibilities of the Danish Military Prosecution Service are set out in the Military Administration of Justice Act and the (Civilian) Administration of Justice Act.
The Military Prosecution Service is an independent service and does not form part of the military chain of command. The service is subordinate only to the Minister of Defence in the same way as the Civilian Prosecution Service is subordinate to the Minister of Justice.
The Military Prosecution Service is a two tier organization headed by the Military Prosecutor General (the Judge Advocate General) and comprises the Office of the Military Prosecutor General and the Office of the Military Chief Prosecutor (the Judge Advocate).
Duties and functions
The key function of the Military Prosecution Service is to enforce Danish criminal law in accordance with the provisions of the (civilian) Administration of Justice Acts and the special provisions of Military Administration of Justice Acts. The Military Prosecution Service is responsible for the investigation as well as the prosecution of violations of the Military Penal Code as well as other (civilian) penal legislation when the violation in question has a nexus to the military service.
Further, the Military Prosecution Service conducts investigations of service related incidents where Danish military service personnel are seriously injured or killed in connection with military service as well.
Military criminal procedure
In 2005, a law reform was introduced to separate the competences of the Military Prosecution Service and the military commanders and today, the Danish Military Justice System is structured as a dualistic system with a clearly defined separation between criminal justice operated by the Military Prosecution Service and summary proceedings in accordance with the Military Disciplinary Code operated by the chain of command.
Disciplinary cases and sanctions are administrative procedures not criminal and so the Public Administration Act is applicable unless otherwise provided.
The Danish Military Criminal Justice System operates – with few exceptions – according to the general rules of the civil criminal procedural system, the fundamental principle being the principle of objectivity.
In 1919 military courts were abolished and since then all military criminal cases are heard by the ordinary courts.
Other duties and functions
Besides its duties in the field of criminal law, the Military Prosecution Service has other functions as well. Since the establishment in 1999 of the Danish Defense’s Military Legal Advisory Service with a view to ensuring the fulfillment of i.a. the obligation set out in Article 82 of Additional Protocol 1 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 to provide legal advice to military commanders, the Office of the Military Prosecutor General has played an integral part of the training of the Danish Military Legal Advisors in International Humanitarian Law.
Further, the Military Prosecutor General’s Office advices the Home Guard Command and selection boards on the fitness of members or applicants convicted of a criminal offence in terms of membership or continuation of membership of the Home Guard.