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'Human rights must be ensured in Taiwan military'
Publication Date : 01-08-2013
The armed forces exist to protect the people and the nation, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday, adding that although strict discipline and hard training are core components of the military, soldiers' dignity and human rights must not be trampled upon.
Ma made the comments during the Kuomintang's weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.
The death of Corporal Hung Chung-chiu has seriously impacted the military, the president said.
Ma added that he has asked the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to conduct a comprehensive review of the military's disciplinary measures to ensure human rights in its ranks.
Military prosecutors yesterday concluded their investigation and prosecuted 18 people over Hung's death, the president said, adding that the public is expecting an impartial trial.
With regard to the proposal of having prosecuted soldiers tried by nonmilitary institutions during peacetime, the president said that he has asked the cabinet, the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Yuan and the Legislature to continue communicating over possible amendments to the Code of Court Martial Procedure, the Criminal Code of the Armed Forces and the Act of Punishment of the Armed Forces.
Ma said that the MND has expressed an open attitude toward reform. The government should use the opportunity to launch policies to ensure that tragedies such as this never happen again, the president said.
He added that, as commander-in-chief, the fact that such a tragedy took place in the armed forces pains him deeply.
“Apologies, however, (in and of themselves) are not enough ... Apologies (should) mark the beginning of (concrete) actions,” the president said.
Ma vowed that he will continue to monitor the case, and that he will use the opportunity to launch comprehensive reform policies in order to prevent such tragedies from taking place again.
The military must learn from this terrible lesson, but it must also maintain its morale, the president stressed.
Ma went on to thank members of the public for offering criticism and advice.