The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday said it would propose amending military laws to have military abuse cases investigated and tried in the civil judicial system rather than by military prosecutors and judges, amid the snowballing controversy over the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘).
The proposal to amend Article 8 of the National Security Act (國家安全法) and Article 1 of the Code of Court Martial Procedure (軍事審判法) would see soldiers on active duty who violate articles 44, 45 or 26 of the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍刑法) — which cover the mistreatment of subordinates — investigated and tried by a civilian judiciary, DPP Legislator Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told a news conference.
“We want to propose the amendment because the public lacks confidence in the military judicial system. The Hung case is a perfect example of this,” Lin said.
The proposal appeared to get a lukewarm reception from military officials, with Chang Pei-yu (張培璵), deputy director of the Department of Legal Affairs under the Ministry of National Defense (MND), saying that the ministry had already limited the military’s judicial power when it amended the Code of Court Martial Procedure in 1999 and urged the public to trust the Military High Court’s Prosecutors’ Office.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said Taiwan should learn from the examples of Germany and Japan, as both have civil law systems similar to Taiwan’s, but in Germany, there is no military judicial system at all, while in Japan, military cases are tried by civilian judges, despite the country having military prosecutors.
DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) told a separate press conference that she had demanded Minister of Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) remove Chen Yi-ming (陳毅銘), commander of the army’s 269th Brigade, from his post because he was in charge of the detention facility where Hung was held before he died of heat exhaustion on July 4 and could be involved in collusion or destruction of evidence.
Meanwhile, former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also addressed the issue at a meeting with reporters yesterday, saying that the Hung case was “yet another incident marking the crisis of confidence and disappointment with the current administration in Taiwan.”
The military’s handling of the case showed that its management and training systems were stuck in the authoritarian period and had not evolved with the times and the formation of an open society, Tsai said, adding that the military has failed on at least three counts: communication, human rights and humane management.
Tsai proposed the establishment of a legislative committee comprised of lawmakers, government officials and civilian representatives to devise a comprehensive reform plan for the military.
“It’s time to take a hard look at the military system — its training, culture and mechanisms — because the No. 1 priority for the government and the military now is regaining the public’s trust,” she said.