Amend­ment passed to bet­ter pro­tect mil­i­tary hu­man rights

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOSEPH YEH

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.

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