ARCHIVED - Army lawyer lays down the law during Op Artemis

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HMCS Regina - OP ARTEMIS / May 1, 2014

By Lieutenant (Navy) Mark Fifield

What is an army legal officer from the Office of the Judge Advocate General doing on a Canadian warship at sea during an overseas deployment in the Indian Ocean?

That was the question on many sailors’ minds when they found out that Major Adam van der Linde was going to be on board HMCS Regina for six to eight months during Operation Artemis.

Op Artemis demonstrates the Canadian Armed Forces’ commitment to peace and stability in the Indian Ocean/Arabian Sea by maintaining a credible and enduring presence as directed by the Government of Canada. Regina is doing its part to support our allies and security partners in the region by operating within a responsive international force known as Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150).

In accordance with CTF-150’s mandate and international law, Regina has the legal authority to approach, board and search vessels of interest to deter and deny the use of the maritime environment for terrorism or the facilitation of terrorist activities. However, there are many considerations that must be satisfied before this can be done.

“We need to establish the legal basis to board and search vessels in the Op Artemis Joint Operations Area and having legal advice on the ship is key to making that happen in a timely fashion,” said Commander Dan Charlebois, Regina’s commanding officer. “This allows Regina to search these vessels for illicit narcotics or other contraband used to fund terrorism as part of our maritime security and counter-terrorism mission.”

Maj van der Linde’s responsibilities on board Regina include advising the chain of command on all legal issues such as applying the laws of armed conflict during real time operations at sea, determining sovereign territorial waters from international waters, and the application of internal discipline. A major part of his job during this deployment is to interpret and apply laws such as the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea.

“This deployment has been one of the most memorable in my career so far, as well as a great life experience as I’ve never been to sea with the Royal Canadian Navy before,” said Maj van der Linde. “I love the fact that I am an army officer practising law on board a Canadian warship during an operational deployment as I never know what new challenges and novel legal situations each day will bring.”