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Taiwan military justice reform to take effect Aug.15

President Ma Ying-jeou signs law during New York visit

Taiwan military justice reform to take effect Aug.15

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Presidential Office officially proclaimed the amendments Tuesday transferring military cases to the civilian judiciary system, allowing the change to go into effect from August 15.
The amendments to the Code of Court Martial Procedure were passed by the Legislative Yuan last week in a quick response to a protest by an estimated 250,000 people on August 3. The protesters commemorated the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu and demanded reform of the military, including the handling of his case by civilian prosecutors and courts.
President Ma Ying-jeou reportedly signed his approval of the amendment after he left for New York on the first stage of a 12-day foreign trip. According to regular practice, the Presidential Office said it only announced the proclamation of laws on Wednesdays, but exceptions were possible.
The Legislative Yuan reportedly first passed the document announcing its approval of the changes to the Presidential Office on Monday. From there, it was faxed to Ma in the United States before returning to Taipei for signing by Premier Jiang Yi-huah and Defense Minister Yen Ming, reports said.
As the changes come into force Thursday, about 250 convicts will be transferred from the largest military prison in the country, in Tainan, to 11 regular prisons. The operation would be guided by military police and could be completed within one day, the military said. The remaining prisoners at institutions in Tainan, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung could be moved later.
Civilian prosecutors will interview each prisoner transferred from one system to the other, the Ministry of Justice said.
The change was a key demand of sympathizers with Hung’s fate because of deep distrust with the handling of his death by military prosecutors. At first, the military investigators were accused of working too slowly in interrogating and detaining suspects, while later they rushed to announce indictments before the truth had really been found, critics said.
The military investigators also faced allegations that they were only interested in catching lower officers, while letting more senior military staff get away without grave charges.
In a separate development meeting demands from the protesters, the Executive Yuan on Tuesday announced the composition of a 15-member committee entrusted with reviewing accusations of human rights violations in the military. Before Hung’s death, many parents had complained about violence and abuse within the military, but without finding authorities willing to listen to them.
The new committee includes four representatives of independent observers and human rights groups, three of a national association of lawyers, four of the government and four academics.
One of the nominees was the head of an association pushing for human rights in the military, Chen Pi-eh, popularly known as Mother Huang. Minister without Portfolio Luo Ying-shay will serve as convener as the committee, while deputy ministers from the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Justice will also serve as members.


Updated : 2021-05-18 11:19 GMT+08:00