Taiwan is a tiny, densely populated country, with one local court — in some cases several courts — in every city or county.
Crimes committed by members of the armed forces are not a rare occurrence, and these are regularly investigated by district prosecutors’ offices and heard in district courts without difficulty.
If military courts are abolished, members of the military judiciary could be asked to assist in trials or act as legal consultants provided by the armed forces.
They could even become judges, if they manage to pass the national examinations.
Neither should it be too difficult for judges from ordinary courts to apply the military’s criminal code.
Also, there would no longer be the contradiction of matters of fact being heard in military courts, while matters of law are ruled upon by the Supreme Court.
The only way to ensure that the armed forces regain their reputation for being above reproach and protect the rights and interests of members of the armed forces is to return to a solely civilian judiciary.
If the legislature allows this opportunity to slip away, if it fails to find a way to resolve the issues that have long plagued our country — the problems with the military and the two-tier judicial system — it will be consigning the military trial system to an end.
Huang Cheng-yi is an assistant research professor in Academia Sinica’s Institutum Iurisprudentiae.
Translated by Paul Cooper