UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Republic of Korea (CAT 30-05-2017)

The Committee against Torture considered the combined third to fifth periodic reports of the Republic of Korea (CAT/C/KOR/3-5) at its 1524th and 1527th meetings (see CAT/C/SR.1524 and 1527), held on 2 and 3 May 2017, and adopted the present concluding observations at its 1538th and 1539th meetings, held on 11 May 2017.

Concluding observations

Abuses in the military

  1. The Committee is concerned at reports of a large number of cases of violence and abuse, including sexual, physical and verbal abuse, in the military, which has sometimes resulted in deaths. It is also concerned at the small number of such cases that have resulted in indictments. In addition, the Committee is concerned about the use of “guardhouse detention” as a disciplinary measure, by which a soldier can be detained for 15 days without a warrant, based only on the decision of the commanding officer. It is also concerned about repeated crackdowns on gay soldiers on the grounds that they have violated article 92-6 of the Military Criminal Act, which criminalizes consensual sexual relations between same-sex adults (arts. 2, 4, 11-14 and 16).
  2. The State party should:

(a) Reinforce measures to prohibit and eliminate violence and abuse, including sexual, physical and verbal abuse, in the military and ensure the prompt, impartial and thorough investigation of all allegations of abuse and deaths in the military in order to demonstrate zero tolerance for ill-treatment and torture of military personnel;

(b) Establish the office of military ombudsman as an independent entity to monitor military units and conduct investigations into allegations of abuse and violence in the military;

(c) Promptly investigate all cases of death in the military and establish the liability of direct perpetrators and those in the chain of command, prosecute and punish those responsible with penalties that are consistent with the gravity of the act committed and make the results of such investigations public;

(d) Ensure the independence of military judicial officers engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights;

(e) Put an end to the “guardhouse detention” of soldiers, without a warrant and without judicial review;

(f) Consider repealing article 92-6 of the Military Criminal Act and take all measures necessary to punish violent actions against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons in the military;

(g) Provide redress and rehabilitation to victims, including through appropriate medical and psychological assistance, in accordance with the Committee’s general comment No. 3 (2012) on the implementation of article 14.

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