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Death of Army Corporal Exposes Human Rights Abuse in the Military

Army corporal Hung Chung-chiu of the 542nd Brigade was due to be discharged from his military service on July 6th 2013. He was caught bringing a smart phone with built-in camera and an mp3 player onto his military base and was subject to solitary confinement from Jun 28th to July 4th. On July 3th, Hung was rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment after allegedly being ordered to perform strenuous exercise drills. He died on July 4th. Questions surrounding Hung’s torture and abuse prior to his death have sparked nationwide debate and concern over human rights issues in Taiwan’s military. The incident has led to two mass protests (known as the “White Shirt Movement”) launched by a civil group called “Citizen 1985". In a mere three days, the “Code of Court Martial Procedure” was amended, transferring jurisdiction of some military criminal cases to the civilian judiciary during peacetime. (Case Number: 1030830891)
The Control Yuan launched an investigation and found the following wrongful acts by the military units:
1. Lack of legal understanding and human rights awareness, negligence of law and order, and failure to follow due process when placing Hung in detention as punishment
2. Poorly setup interior of the detention room, the under qualified supervisor, and lack of discipline and on-the-job training for military personnel.
The Control Yuan has recommended that the Ministry of National Defense and the Army Command Headquarters take corrective measures and consider possible punishment against those related officers implicated with negligence. The Control Yuan has also impeached the 542nd Brigade Major General Shen Wei-chih, Commander Colonel Ho Chiang-chung, and the 269th Brigade Major Yang Fan-Han.
In response, the Ministry of National Defense has reviewed their existing facilities and made the following improvements to safeguard human rights and uphold discipline:
1. Completed the renovation of fourteen solitary confinement rooms and improved on the old facilities;
2. Launched a project to ensure staff sufficiency at the solitary confinement unit;
3. Mandated record keeping for every single use of solitary confinement as punishment; and
4. Adopted the “Daily Schedule and Plans at the Solitary Confinement,” which specifies routines and schedules during time in solitary confinement.