Martial Law definition, Canada, Philippines,Ukraine, Russia. Many times emergencies arise in countries like an invasion, war, rebellion, natural disasters, and public disorder.
To cope with such situations; martial law gets imposed. These laws help to establish public order and ensure security in alarmed regions or the entire country. Martial law is the direct military takeover of all the civilian functions of public and government authorities. When the civil authorities become ineffective in an emergency, military law comes into play. The legal effect of these laws differs from country to country.
Many countries declared martial law several times in their territorial regions, such as Ukraine, Canada, the United States, Pakistan, the Philippines, and others. The measures and powers under martial law differ in their respective jurisdiction.
In this article, we will briefly discuss martial law and its implementation in Ukraine, the Philippines, Canada, and Russia.
Definition of martial law:
Martial law is the temporary imposition of military law and the suspension of all the civil functions of government authorities. These laws generally get imposed when emergencies arise, such as invasion, rebellion, natural disaster, and civil disorder. A martial law handover military all the ordinary civil law powers and restricts civil liberties.
When martial law is in force, it snatches away all the people’s civil liberties, including the freedom to speech, moves freely, trade and operation, form association, and other things according to the country’s law.
It hands over all the powers to military officials from the hands of civil law governing authorities in the alarmed area. When martial law gets enforced, military commanders get unlimited power to make and enforce laws; in that area. A person found in violation of these laws gets tried in a military tribunal, not state courts. The power to administer justice comes into the hands of the military.
Martial law comes into play when civil authorities become incapable of maintaining public order, cease function, or are not in force.
In short, military officials make and enforce the law instead of civil authorities and police.
Martial law in Canada:
Martial law is a state of affairs where the military administers the law and controls the police, the courts, and state authorities. Under martial law, the military can pass laws and issue orders to maintain public order. Canada has a civilian government, and there is nothing that allows martial law.
In old times, martial law was imposed under The War Measure Act to reestablish public order and security at times of emergency. These acts gave vast powers to the Canadian government while martial law was in force. Under these acts, the military officials cannot administer justice that remains in the hands of civil law authorities.
This act was invoked three times: during the first and second world wars and the FLQ crisis in 1970. These acts provided measures to be implemented at war, invasion, insurrection, and any emergency. These acts gave sweeping powers to the cabinet to rule over the alarmed area.
During both world wars, the invocation of martial law snatched civil liberties of civilians that got reckoned as enemy aliens. It gave uncontrollable power to the military to arrest, detain and deport people without any charges and trial. These led to thousands of illegal arrests under the suspicion that they posed a threat to national security and peace.
This act later got imposed in Quebec during the 1970 October crisis, also known as the FLQ crisis. The martial law was invoked in response to two kidnappings of officials by the Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ), a terrorist association. A state of apprehended insurrection officially got declared in Quebec. During the proclamation, many people got arrested and illegally confined in prison.
However, in 1988 the War Measure Act was repealed and replaced by the Emergency Act. These Acts limited the powers of government during an emergency. These acts authorised the Canadian government to invoke temporary measures in an emergency; in adherence to the international human rights laws.
The Emergency Act was recently invoked in response to the Canadian convoy protest. These acts do not give ultimate powers to the hands of the military. Under these acts, administrative authority remains in the hands of civil authorities.
In today’s era, there is no martial law in the state.
However, emergency provisions can get invoked concerning public safety and state security.
Martial law in Ukraine:
Martial law is currently a topic of discussion in Ukraine. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, implemented martial law on 24 February 2022 in response to the Russian invasion of their territory.
Under martial law, people between 18-60 were restricted from leaving the country, public curfew was declared, free movement restriction, rallies, and suspended civil functions of government in the interest of national security and public order. In short, military forces control the country’s activity for a certain period.
These laws gave power to military forces to make and enforce the law. Any person caught in violation of martial law will get tried in a military tribunal, not in civil courts.
Initially, martial law was adopted in 2000, under Ukraine’s law, ‘on the legal status of martial law.’ This law has been amended several times since its enactment.
Initially, martial law was declared in 2018 by the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for 30 days in its; 10 regions when Russia fired and seized three Ukrainian ships. Further, these laws were extended for 60 days more.
At that time, Russian citizens and officials got restricted from entering the territory of Ukraine. These measures were implemented to avoid the formation of internal invasion on state territory.
Martial law in the Philippines:
Like many other countries, the Philippines has also invoked martial law several times in their territory. The Philippines martial law 1972, also known as the martial law era, was highlighted as the darkest period in the Philippines ‘ history. It led to the beginning of 14 years of Marcos’s rule until he got exiled from the country in 1986.
In September 1972, Philippines president Ferdinand E. Marcos declared martial law in the entire Philippines. During this time, Marcos exercised dictatorial power. Marcos exercised martial law as an excuse to perpetuate himself in power and extend his region beyond two presidential terms allowed under the 1935 Philippines constitution.
However, Marcos claimed that martial law got invoked in response to the communist insurgency threats posed by the new communist party of the Philippines(CPP) and the rebellion of the Mindanao Independence Movement(MIM).
Although many people claim that the Marcos martial law era was one of the best times, many people suffered negative consequences. Around 70,000 people got arrested without due process of law, 34000 people got tortured, 3240 people got killed by the military and police, many people forcefully disappeared, and vast abuse of human rights got observed during this period.
Later, when Marcos got exiled. Government investigators discovered unexplained wealth under Marcos’s possession which he acquired through; illegal means. This period of martial law finally ended in 1981, but Marcos continued his dictatorship until he got exiled in 1986.
Initially, martial law was introduced by president Jose P. Laurel from 1944 to 1945 in response to the state of war between the Philippines and the United States. Later by President Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1972.
Most recently, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo placed Maguindanao province under a state of martial law in 2009, thereby suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. This time martial law was lifted after; 9 days.
After that in; 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law on the island of Mindanao due to the existing rebellion in the region, which later got lifted in December 2019.
Martial law in Martial law in Russia:
Russian federal constitutional law prescribes the procedure for imposition and terms of Martial law. Russian law clearly distinguished martial law and state emergency law under their constitution provisions.
Russian law defined martial law as a special legal regime enforced in exceptional cases such as external aggression and the threat of external aggression on Russian territory. These laws subject civilians and other authorities to military control. Russians invoke emergency law at civil unrest, natural disasters, and other crises.
These laws pass all the functions of state authorities regarding defence, maintenance of public order, and state security to the military command and USSR Armed Forces.
During the great patriotic wartime from 1941 to 1945, martial law was imposed in several regions of Russia. This law was declared according to Article 49 of paragraph “p” of the Constitution of the USSR with the Soviet Union Praesidium assent and not lifted until the war ended.
In modern times, martial law was never invoked in Russia.
Read also: Martial law definition
External resource: Wikipedia