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Military sexual offenses to be tried in civilian courts under new law

All News 22:28 August 24, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 24 (Yonhap) -- Legislative changes are under way at parliament to change the jurisdiction over military sexual offenses to civilian courts, lawmakers said Tuesday.

As the first step towards such changes, the National Assembly's Legislation and Judiciary Committee passed a revision of the Military Court Act, which requires military sexual offenses to be tried in civilian courts rather than in military courts.

The legal revision has been pushed amid criticism that the current military law system, in which investigations, prosecutions and trials are all conducted within the military organization, neglects the protection of service member victims.

Rep. Park Joo-min (L) of the ruling Democratic Party, acting chair of the National Assembly's Legislation and Judiciary Committee, hits the gavel during a committee meeting in Seoul on Aug. 24, 2021. (Yonhap)

Earlier this year, two female noncommissioned officers from the Air Force and the Navy died by apparent suicide after complaining about being sexually harassed on and off bases. Both of the victims reported sexual harassment by their superiors to the military's law enforcement authorities before their deaths but were not well taken care of.

The revision also mandates that civilian courts be additionally responsible for dealing with the death of a soldier killed in non-military crimes and crimes committed before enlistment, for instance.


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