JAG Journal, Day 2 & 3: U.S., Tanzanian military lawyers exchange best practices

Two members of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa legal staff and one U.S. Army Africa legal staff member traveled to East Africa recently to exchange legal practices with the Tanzanian Peoples’ Defense Force (TPDF) during the Military Law Symposium.

U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Sciapli, U.S. Army Africa judge advocate general, discusses legal practices with two Tanzanian Peoples’ Defense Force legal officers during the Military Law Symposium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa courtesy photo)

During Day 1 of symposium, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Deegan and U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Peter Tunis, CJTF-HOA judge advocate generals, and U.S. Army Capt. Daniel Sciapli, USARAF judge advocate general, were welcomed by Tanzanian legal officers.

Here’s Part II of the day-by-day recap of the engagement between the two groups of military lawyers … (Read Day 1).

Day 2: Military Justice and Non-Judicial Punishment

Throughout the week, the U.S. and TPDF teams discovered ways in which both of their military law systems were largely similar, with many of the differences being in name only.

Attorneys for the TPDF are normally called “legal officers” and their title changes to “judge advocate” only when they are assigned to work court-martials.

Lt. Sebastian Mwaka Lindile, a Tanzanian legal officer, asked these questions of his U.S. counterparts: “Do you have a law or policy on adultery or matters of marriage?” and “Can an officer marry an enlisted person, like a private?”

Deegan and Tunis used personal experiences from previous cases to illustrate adultery and fraternization under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, along with relevant service regulations on fraternization.

Maj. Shija Lupi, legal officer and military police commander, Tanzanian 603rd Air Transport Station, shared the equivalent TPDF policy.

“Adultery is strongly prohibited. A court of inquiry would be convened and the soldier would be administratively released [in a case of substantiated adultery],” said Lupi.

Day 3: Claims and Investigations

Sciapli took the baton for day three to discuss different types of claims and investigations. The TPDF listened to his experiences running a claims office in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and working as the Claims Commission for USARAF. Several of the TPDF also had extensive experience with investigations. Their system assigns the responsibility of being an investigating officer to legal officers, as opposed to the U.S. system, which appoints an officer who may seek assistance from a judge advocate.

The TPDF then shared information about their claims system and some of the issues that arise operating in a coalition environment with international organizations.

Sharing experiences from a deployment to Lebanon, Capt. Zakayo Kazya, TPDF legal officer, said, “Our claims are based on U.N. procedures…. However, there are differences between our investigations and those conducted by the U.N. The U.N. will investigate with their police, but they do not assign fault. A Tanzanian police officer can assign fault, and money can be deducted from a soldier’s pay if he is grossly negligent.”

Another experience shared by the TPDF’s Lt. Noah Bonaventura Kong’oa illustrated one of the major differences between the Tanzanian and U.S. systems.

“I practice a lot of probate law,” said Kong’oa. “Most people here die intestate [that is, without a will]. There is often disagreement over which type of law to apply. Some want customary law, some want statutory, and some want Islamic law. We use a ‘mode of living’ test to determine which set of laws to apply.”

As an example of the “mode of living” test, if a man lived the life of a Maasai warrior and went through the Emuratare ceremony (a rite of passage to become a warrior upon reaching puberty that involves circumcision), and he practiced Maasai traditions until he died, the customary law of the Maasai would apply to distributing his estate. The Tanzanian legal officer helps make this determination for deceased service members.

Legal assistance services in the U.S. military, however, do not extend into the probate process beyond creating wills.

Stay tuned for the final Days 4 and 5  …

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