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Rights group urges Taiwan to reform military as promised
Central News Agency
2014-01-13 10:32 PM
Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) Amnesty International (AI) Taiwan on Monday urged Taiwan's government to live up to its promise to reform the country's military court system.

In a statement released Monday, AI Taiwan said it welcomed revisions to transfer jurisdiction for criminal offenses by military servicemen to civilian courts and saw it "as a step toward greater accountability for human rights violations in Taiwan."

It added, however, that "without proper implementation, the legislative amendments will not deliver justice to the victims of human rights violations" in Taiwan's military system. "We call on the government to ensure that the newly responsible agencies, that is, the ordinary prosecutors' offices and the ordinary courts, have adequate resources and training to do these jobs effectively," AI Taiwan Director Bo Tedards told CNA.

He said the Ministry of National Defense and the various branches of the armed forces should also adopt suitable mechanisms to ensure smooth cooperation with civilian prosecutors and courts.

Tedards also urged Taiwan to adopt the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) and criminalize torture in Taiwan's laws.

"Taiwan has already implemented the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), but we think it should go a step further and implement the convention on torture," Tedards said.

The optional protocol to the convention requires that countries designate or establish independent "national preventive mechanisms" to carry out visits to places of detention to monitor the treatment of detainees.

"That is a next stage of reform that we are hoping for in Taiwan," Tedards said.

Under the revised Code of Court Martial Procedure, which was passed by the Legislative Yuan on Aug. 6 and promulgated by the Presidential Office on Aug. 13, all military servicemen in Taiwan will be subject to the civilian justice system during peacetime.

The push to overhaul the court martial system came after the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu on July 4 following a series of alleged irregularities, disregard for military rules and procedures, and abuses of power.

The incident triggered huge public protests and calls for improved human rights and reforms within the military. Tainan military prison, the only one of its kind in Taiwan, became history Monday with the transfer of its remaining 65 inmates to various civilian prisons in accordance with the revised law.

The large-scale prison transfer followed the relocation of 243 military prisoners to 11 civilian prisons last August in the first-phase reform of the country's court martial system. (By Christie Chen)

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