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Law amendment passed to better protect human rights in military

2015/04/21 19:22:49

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Lawmakers on Tuesday approved the third reading of an amendment to the law governing punishment measures for the armed forces in a move to better protect human rights in Taiwan's military.

The amended Act of Punishment of the Armed Forces scrapped the punishment of "reforming training" or reeducation and "confinement," and reduced the maximum number of days that officers and soldiers can receive the punishment of penitence from 30 days to 15 days.

It also added "reduction in rank" and "demotion" to the kinds of punishments that can be imposed on ranking officers; "dismissal," "reduction in rank" and "disciplinary measures" to the punishments that can be slapped on non-commissioned officers; and "salary deduction" to those that can be carried out on soldiers.

The newly added "reduction in rank" punishment will deter crime and dereliction of duty because if a military officer's rank is reduced, so will his or her pension, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

Revisions to the Act were drafted after the death of 24-year-old Army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) on July 4, 2013. Hung died of heatstroke after being forced to do strenuous exercise in a confinement facility he should not have been in in the first place.

Hung's death raised questions of human rights violations in the military, sparked mass protests in Taiwan, and led to the prosecution of several military officials and major legal reforms such as the abolition of military courts during peacetime.

The amended law also stipulates that those punished or filing an appeal against the punishment shall not be discriminated against or unfairly treated.

(By Christie Chen)