South Korea is expected to abolish the military guardhouse system this year as part of efforts to better protect the human rights of draftees, officials said Saturday.
A revision of the Military Personnel Management Act calls for the abolishment of guardhouses and the establishment of additional educational programs instead to discipline soldiers, according to the defense ministry.
The bill, now pending at the National Assembly, will come into effect six months after passage.
Under the guardhouse system. rank-and-file soldiers who commit wrongdoings can be sent to military confinement facilities for up to 15 days at a time following the decision by a military disciplinary committee led by a high-ranking officer with authority over personnel affairs.
As it has been a source of controversy over human rights violations for limiting conscripts‘ personal liberty, the ministry began to push for its abolishment in 2018 as part of its military reform drive and submitted the law revision last October.
If passed, any incarceration of soldiers will only be possible through an official court trial, and those found guilty while being in service will be put in a military prison instead of a confinement facility, according to the ministry officials.
“It will be a landmark case that will help improve soldiers’ rights,” Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said earlier. “We have been working to come up with follow-up measures not to cause the decision to slacken discipline.” (Yonhap)