Amendment passed to better protect military human rights
An amendment to the Punishment Act of the Armed Forces (
) yesterday cleared the legislative floor as part of the ongoing reform to better protect the rights of military personnel launched following the suspicious death of Army Cpl. Hung Chungchiu ( ) in 2013.
The amendment stipulates that military personnel who are sentenced to serve in disciplinary confinement cannot stay in confinement for more than 15 days instead of the previous 30 days.
Military personnel can also appeal punishment levied by the military to civilian court if he or she thinks the punishment is too harsh, the amendment states.
The amendment is made
to better protect the rights of military personnel following the suspicious death of Hung, who died during military disciplinary confinement in July 2013.
The same amendment also alters the current punishments levied on military personnel who are found violating military regulations.
According to the amendment, military personnel who are found seriously violating regulations can be punished by demotion, discharge and fines.
Military personnel who are found doing things unbecoming of a military officer, including drunk driving, sexual harassment and sexual abuse, will also need to undergo punishment.
The amendment to the act was also proposed following Hung’s case when several of Hung’s superiors in the military were found involved in wrongfully putting the solider in the brig in the first place.
In response to the passage of the amendment, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday thanked lawmakers for passing the bill that could better protect the human rights of soldiers and maintain discipline in the military.
The amendment will officially take effect three days after the president signs it into law except the sections dealing with demotion, which will need to be enacted through separate legislation, the ministry noted.
Meanwhile, Hung’s elder sister, Hung Tzu-yung ( ), who is now running for a lawmaker seat in Taichung, yesterday expressed gratitude for the bill’s passage. But she noted that overarching reform is needed to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
Cpl. Hung’s Case
Hung was punished by being sent to military confinement on June 28, 2013 after being found in possession of a cameraequipped cellphone on his base.
He was forced to perform grueling exercises in hot weather as part of the physical training session during confinement, before dying on July 4 of multiple organ failure caused by heatstroke.
The suspicious death of Hung and the military’s response sparked accusations of torture and led to mass protests, which ultimately resulted in the resignation of the then-defense minister and forced the government to launch a comprehensive military judicial system overhaul.
Lawmakers recently decided to speed up the review of the bill following the outbreak of the Apache scandal last month. Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng ( ), a pilot in the Army’s 601st Aviation Brigade, was accused of allegedly allowing local TV personality Janet Lee ( ) and other civilians, including foreign nationals, access to an AH-64E Apache late last month.
It was also found that Lao had not returned an Apache flight helmet after a training mission last October, but had worn it as part of a Halloween costume at a party in his home.