The government needs to ensure that its amendments to the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法) live up to its promise of greater accountability, Amnesty International said yesterday.
The amendments were prompted by the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) in July last year, three days before completing his mandatory military service. Hung’s death was allegedly caused by heat exhaustion after he was forced to perform intense physical exercise.
The law, revised in August last year, stated that all military servicemen would be subject to the civil judicial system during peacetime, while the court-martial system will only operate when the country is at war.
“Amnesty International welcomes this development as a step toward greater accountability for human rights violations in Taiwan,” the statement said.
However, the statement cautioned that “without proper implementation” justice could not be given to victims of human rights violations extant in Taiwan’s military system.
The statement illustrated Amnesty International’s concern by citing that military prosecutors had not yet handed over some of the evidence in Hung’s case to their counterparts in civilian courts.
The statement added that the Supreme Military Court and the Northern District Military Court had petitioned the Council of Grand Justices to name the amendment unconstitutional in November last year, signifying “possible opposition to the changes within the defense establishment.”
The statement called on the Judicial Yuan and the Ministry of Justice to ensure that civil courts and the prosecution system have the available resources to effectively handle their new responsibilities, adding a call for the Ministry of National Defense to take appropriate measures and ensure that their personnel cooperate in investigations and judiciary processes of civilian courts.
The government and legislature should “ensure that torture, as defined in the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), is criminalized, as are at least deliberate forms of ill-treatment, including within and by the military,” the statement said.
The statement called on Taiwan to commit to UNCAT and implement its provisions, and to establish a preventive mechanism and allow “unrestricted access to all places where people are deprived of liberty, including military disciplinary detention facilities,” as envisaged by UNCAT’s Optional Protocol.