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Military Sexual Violence to Be Tried at Civil Courts
National Assembly Voting a Revision to Military Court Act (yna.co.kr)

The power of the military law system is going to be curtailed as the National Assembly passed a revision to the Military Court Act on August 31st. The revision is a reflex of public opinion. Since the current military law system lets military organizations conduct the whole process from investigation and prosecution to trial and sentencing, it has been accused of cover-ups and extreme neglect of victims. Earlier this year, two female non-commissioned officers from the Air Force and the Navy died in an apparent suicide after reporting sexual harassment by their superiors and suffering from secondary victimization carried out by the military. These cases evoked public indignation, resulting in the revision of the current system that had been deaf to all blame. The new law now requires military sexual offenses to be tried in civil courts rather than in military courts. Civil courts will also be responsible for crimes committed before enlistment and death cases of service members killed in non-military crimes. However, in an interview with Hankyoreh, a lawyer Heo Jain from Minbyun, which is a non-governmental organization of progressive lawyers, said, “The military would feel more pressure if only particular cases such as sexual offenses were tried outside the military. There might be more attempts to make cover-ups.” The source of the problem in this issue resides in the insular, closed military culture. Without solving the deep-rooted problems, it is questionable whether the revision can be the right answer.

허유정  yjheo@g.skku.edu

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