Amendments to the Punishment Act of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍懲罰法) that were proposed after the death in 2013 of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), who is said to have died from abuse while serving in the military, yesterday cleared the legislature, including a stipulation to end the practice of confinement to “detention barracks.”
The punishment of confining soldiers to detention barracks has been changed to requiring them to “repent,” and the maximum period of penitence that a soldier could be subjected to has been revised from 30 days to 15 days.
The penitence would be conducted in a “penitence room,” the establishment of which has been stipulated to fall within the Ministry of National Defense’s remit. Other responsibilities to be taken over by the ministry include the definition of educational content to be delivered to repenting soldiers, and the qualifications and accountability of the personnel managing the penitence rooms.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
According to the newly amended act, those who are disciplined through measures involving restraints of their personal freedom can appeal to a court or the authority in charge of the punishment in a written document or oral statement. The court, upon receiving the protest, would immediately inform the disciplinary unit, which would then review the appeal within 24 hours and retract or annul the punishment if the protest is found to be justified or penitence is deemed unnecessary.
The categories of disciplinary measures have been broadened, with ranking officers now also subject to reductions in rank; non-commissioned officers to dismissal, reduction in rank and restrictions; and enlisted personnel to forfeiture of pay.
“Reforming training” as one of the possible punishments for non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel has been scrapped.
Other changes include making sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual bullying punishable offenses, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol or without a license.
Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸), Hung Chung-chiu’s older sister and one of the New Power Party’s legislative candidates, said on Facebook that, while she is glad to see the attempts of the ministry and the legislature to better the human rights situation in the military, she still holds misgivings about part of the revision.
“Changing ‘detention’ to ‘penitence’ will be putting old wine in new bottles if the environment of penitence as a kind of punishment does not improve. Soldiers who are disciplined could still be abused by the disciplinary environment or personnel during the penitence period,” Hung Tzu-yung said. “Hung Chung-chiu was put in a penitence room that was worse than detention barracks.”
She added that, although the right to appeal has been granted to officers and enlisted personnel by the amendments, “because of the military’s culture, those who have been punished would not dare lodge a claim, even if they felt the punishment was unreasonable.”
“It is not enough to simply have a legal framework established. The government also needs to make sure that individuals can protest without adverse consequences, otherwise the amendment is an empty promise,” Hung Tzu-yung said.
The military was stripped of its right to prosecute its personnel during peacetime by the legislature in August 2013, soon after Hung Chung-chiu’s death and a subsequent mass protest by tens of thousands of people.
SOLIDARITY WITH TAIWAN: MOFA thanked US lawmakers for introducing the bill, which aims to clarify the content of UN Resolution 2758 and questions Beijing’s claim to represent Taiwan in international organizations A bipartisan coalition of US congressmen on Monday introduced legislation that aims to counter China’s claim to represent Taiwan in international organizations. “For too long, Beijing has distorted policies and procedures at the UN and related bodies to assert its sovereignty claims over Taiwan, often to the detriment of global health and security efforts,” US Representative Gerry Connolly said in a news release. “This bipartisan legislation ensures that we stand in solidarity with this critical US partner,” he said. Connolly cosponsored the bill with the three other chairs of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus — US representatives Albio Sires, Mario Diaz-Balart and Steve
STANDING TOGETHER: The allies highlighted the importance of cross-strait peace in Japan’s first statement with the US on Taiwan since it switched diplomatic recognition The US and Japan on Friday vowed to stand firm together against an assertive China, and to step up cooperation on climate change and next-generation technology as US President Joe Biden made his first summit a show of alliance unity. Waiting nearly three months for his first foreign guest due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden told Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga that his country enjoyed “our iron-clad support” on security issues and beyond. “We’re going to work together to prove that democracies can still compete and win in the 21st century,” Biden told reporters, affectionately calling the Japanese leader “Yoshi.” A joint
F-5E CRASH: The body, which was found in a reef crevice near Nanren Fishing Port in Manjhou Township, was wearing Captain Pan Ying-chun’s uniform and name tag The body of a fighter pilot who had gone missing following a mid-air collision last month was yesterday found near a fishing port in Pingtung County, the air force said. A search-and-rescue team found Captain Pan Ying-chun’s (潘穎諄) body in a reef crevice near Nanren Fishing Port (南仁漁港) in Manjhou Township (滿州), the air force said. Pan was one of two pilots involved in the accident in which two single-seat F-5E jets collided as they were changing formation during a training mission. The other pilot, Lo Shang-hua (羅尚樺), ejected from his aircraft after the collision, but he did not have any
LARGEST EVER: Police raided an illegal greenhouse in Hsinchu County and detained two men, and were looking for the operation’s suspected mastermind Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) yesterday presented the results of a raid on an illegal cannabis farm in Hsinchu County, where police seized more than 1,600 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of NT$500 million (US$17.76 million). It was the largest cannabis seizure in Taiwan, officials said. Speaking at a news conference at the Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau Taipei Field Station, Tsai reiterated his ministry’s tough stance against illegal drugs and said it would continue to crack down on cannabis. Police on March 19 raided a greenhouse in the hills of Guanhsi Township (關西), a bureau official said. Two men,