The Ministry of National Defense said it has ordered a suspension of all disciplinary confinement in the armed forces effective from Thursday last week in the wake of the death of a soldier following his confinement just a few days before he was scheduled to complete his military service.
The ministry has ordered all military personnel currently in confinement to return to their original duties pending “more appropriate” punitive action.
Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) was serving in the 542nd Brigade in Hsinchu and had been set to be discharged on July 6. He was sent to the 269th Brigade in Taoyuan on June 28 for disciplinary action because he brought a camera phone onto the base without permission when he returned from vacation on June 23.
Hung suffered from heat exhaustion after a training session on July 3 and was sent to hospital.
At the hospital, the 23-year-old Hung died of multiple organ failure after failed efforts to resuscitate him.
Ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) on Friday said that the ministry, to balance the human rights of soldiers with proper punitive measures, would amend the Act of Punishment of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍懲罰法).
The amendments will “head toward the abolition of solitary confinement,” he said.
Under the act, only privates are to be confined to a solitary cell, while corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants are asked to “repent.” When the corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants are asked to repent, they are often given the choice of choosing a quiet room, instead of being sent to the army’s established confinement chambers, where detainees may be asked to do intense exercises as punishment.
Meanwhile, accusing the military of purposefully delaying Hung’s transfer to the hospital, Hung’s mother said the family accepted their lawyer’s suggestion to have an autopsy performed.
Additional Reporting by Hung Mei-hsiu, Tsai Meng-shang and CNA