Princess visits Military Legal Unit
By Lyna Mohamad

Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Muta Wakkilah Hayatul Bolkiah yesterday consented to make a working visit to the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Military Legal Unit at the Ministry of Defence, Bolkiah Garrison.

Deputy Minister of Defence, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Col (Rtd) Dato Hj Mohd Yasmin Hj Umar and Commander of RBAF, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General Dato Hj Awg Halbi Hj Md Yussof were on hand to greet HRH upon her arrival.

Also greeting the arrival of the royalty were MinDef Permanent Secretary, Hj Mustappa Hj Sirat, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Hj Rashid Hj Abd Rahman, AGM Dato Awg Hj Kifrawi Dato Hj Kifli as well as other RBAF senior officers.

The visit of HRH began with a welcoming address by RBAF Commander, followed by a presentation on the history of the establishment, roles and organisational structure of the Military Legal Unit by Lt Col Hj Md Yussof Hj Abd Rahman.

HRH then proceeded to the Military Legal Unit and the Court Marshal to observe closely the manning of the RBAF military legal system and the available facilities.

A mock "court hearing" was held at the Court Marshal, which HRH observed prior to signing the royal parchment to mark her working visit.

In 1999, a research was carried out by Col McEvoys ALS on the legal system and the need to have a Military Legal Unit in RBAF that saw the establishment of the Military Legal Unit in 2002.

Initially, it was located at the Service Centre of the Directorate of Personnel prior to the current official establishment and later on March 3, 2003, the unit was shifted to a bigger office at the Bolkiah Garisson Housing area due to its expansion.

Meanwhile, the building project for a permanent office and court marshal began in July 2003 and on December 31, 2004, the building was officially opened by the Commander of RBAF.

The main roles of the Military Legal Unit include being a special Legal Advisor to the RBAF Commander, legal advisor to RBAF pertaining to discipline, operation, training and administration matters and to monitor/ supervise and review RBAF Acts.

Planning and executing legal training in RBAF and ensuring trials and legal processes in RBAF are conducted in a manner that is organised, legitimate and impartial are also among the unit's key roles.

Made up of three areas, namely Summary Dealing/trial and Court Marshal, Operation and Training and Administration and Legislation, the military Legal Unit and Court Marshal comprise five military legal officers and six other ranked personnel as well as civilians.

Currently, approved acts include the RBAF Act (Imprisonment and Detention), RBAF Rules and Procedures and RBAF (Summary Jurisdiction) Regulations.

The Roles of the Summary Dealing/ Trial and Court Marshal amongst all include prosecution in the court marshal, to act as an advisor and assist in updating RBAF Acts, Regulations and Fixed Penalty related to summary dealing and court marshal.

Operation and Training meanwhile is responsible as a legal advisor on operation and training, local and abroad, handling of operation and training related legal issues, updating all documents related to operation and training and formulating plans and RBAF legal policy that is related to the section.

It is also responsible for the training and courses that are related with operation law and is responsible towards the Law of Armed Conflict, International Law and Rules of Engagement.

The Administration and Legislation serve to advise and monitor matters pertaining to Administration Law, Employment Law and Legislation, to study and update RBAF Acts and all RBAF legal related documents and monitor and advise on the agreement signed between RBAF and recruits/army. - Borneo Bulletin (2nd May 2006)