Thursday, February 15, 2018

South Korea's military justice reform

The Korea Herald is running an editorial strongly in favor of current moves to reform South Korea's military justice system. Excerpt:
The military cannot be an exception to the principle of independence and the impartiality of investigations and trials.

The point of the reform is to change a closed authoritarian system in which commanders call the shots over military police, military prosecution and military courts into a more open and democratic one. In the present system, commanders of divisions or higher units can select military prosecutors, supervise arrests and indictments, choose presiding judges and commute sentences.

This concentration of power has been blamed for allowing military authorities to suppress or cover up human rights violations in barracks such as assaults, bullying and suspicious deaths, and slap criminals on the wrists. These judicial aberrations were made possible because it is nearly impossible to go against commanders who control just about anything in their units, including personnel and judicial matters.
Under the proposed reforms, which were drafted by the Defense Ministry, trial judges in the five military courts will be civilians.

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