ARTICLE 134 - QUARANTINE: MEDICAL BREAKING
Paragraph 100 of the Manual for Court Martial deals with breaking a medical quarantine. The text of statute under Article 134 says that all neglects and disorders which are adverse to the discipline and good order in the armed forces, all conducts that can bring discredit to the armed forces or offenses or crimes not capital, can be punished by convening a court martial.
ELEMENTS OF THE OFFENSE
- The accused was ordered into medical quarantine by a certain person.
- The person who ordered the accused to enter medical quarantine was authorized to do so.
- The accused was aware of the medical quarantine and the limits it imposed on him.
- The accused broke the limits of the medical quarantine, before he was released from it by the proper authority, and
- In these circumstances, the accused's conduct was adverse to the discipline and good order in the armed forces or the nature of the act brought discredit to the armed forces.
MAXIMUM PUNISHMENT FOR BREAKING MEDICAL QUARANTINE
The maximum punishment that can be imposed on a service member for breaking a medical quarantine without the permission of the authority who imposed it on him, is 6 months of confinement and forfeiture of 2/3 rd of pay every month, for 6 months.
MORE ON MEDICAL QUARANTINE AND ITS IMPORTANCE
If it is suspected that a certain individual has been exposed to a certain pathogen, he may be quarantined for a certain interval of time and observed for symptoms. Note that a quarantined individual is asymptomatic at the time of being quarantined.
Quarantine fulfills two purposes. First, the chain of transmission is stopped because the individual is not in social circulation. So the chances are less that he will infect others if he is carrying the pathogen. Second, those individuals who start showing symptoms can be identified and directed towards the appropriate medical facility. Medical practitioners have a moral obligation to prevent the infected individual from transmitting the pathogen to other people, if it can be done. This is the rationale behind quarantining a person. Note that quarantine has to be specific to the health danger posed by the individual to other people.
AN EXAMPLE TO SEE HOW A SERVICE MEMBER MAY BE CHARGED WITH THIS OFFENSE:
Consider that during a routine medical test, a service member is found to be infected with AIDS. Note that AIDS is not a disease like measles or mumps, which can be spread by casual contact or air. AIDS cannot be spread by the carrier's mere presence (it is usually spread through a sexual act).
In the case of service members, who are HIV positive, the armed forces have provided sexual regulations which are deemed necessary to protect and promote welfare, health and combat readiness among the soldiers. The armed forces sees deterrence as an important tool to meet the AIDS menace.
So, the person who provides the service member with preventive medicine counseling on AIDS, is expected to specifically tell the service member, to sexually segregate himself from other people. In this case, the person was authorized to do so. In other words, the soldier was clearly ordered to go into medical quarantine.
If the soldier was not explicitly told to do avoid unprotected sexual activity and if he engages in it, then he cannot be charged with breaking quarantine. However, preventing medical counseling can be construed as a military order. If the soldier disobeys it, he can be charged with another offense, that of disobedience, under Article 90.