Revise SOFA! No more death!
The judgment shows that South Korea belongs to the US.
The US military court decided yesterday (November 21st) the Mark Walker was not guilty. This judgment followed Fernando Dino’s redemption. They were charged with killing two students, Hyosoon Shin and Misun Shim with an armed vehicle last June in Yangjoo, Kyunggi. The case which made people upset closed the curtain without criminals.
We can’t stand the result, though we predicted the court would not be fair and precise because the jurisdiction is completely under US army. Young students are killed and there is no criminal. Are caterpillars the criminals?
We feel more terrible because we compare it to Bill Clinton’s apology for a US soldier’s sexual crime in Okinawa, Japan. The decision will trigger distrust and blame of the US army presence.
It was supposed to be unfair. Judge and prosecutors didn’t show their will to judge the two soldiers but showed off their action. Besides the court didn’t take decisive testimony that the telecommunication equipment was OK in a pretest. Request for the company commander as witness was rejected too.
The juries being composed by US soldiers made the case distorted. It is not appropriate for American Law because the jury and defendants have the same job and share the same spirit.
The US Army in Korea have continued to protect criminals of the US army and let them get away. A civilian who drained poisoned water into the Han river in 2000 ran away because of the US Army ignoring the jurisdiction of a Korean court. We feel a lot of anger toward the US Army neglecting the least safety and dignity of Koreans. We also censure the Government who are not trying to fix the unfairness.
We believe that severe revision of SOFA is only way to stop the unjust losses. SOFA is so inequitable that we don’t think the agreement is one between independent countries. Unfairness of jurisdiction right, which has been the most controversial thing, is deadly. This was proved by the incident. Revision of SOFA has been needed through a poison-draining component trial and an oil-draining case around camps.
Therefore the Korean Government must revise SOFA without any hesitation. The Basic Agreement, Agreed Minutes and Understandings of SOFA should be modified. It should be defined to implement trials according to the Korean Constitution and also noted that the US Army has to compensate and return damages. We, NGOs, already suggested detailed revisions of SOFA to presidential candidates with ‘100 subjects’ in the name of the Voters Coalition 2002.
The Korean Government’s attitude, however, is very frustrating. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT) have focused only on excusing the unfair SOFA since they negotiated the revision early in the year. Then and now MOFAT conveyed their opinion that ‘we understand the US army’s trial kept the jurisdiction fairly and we accept the judgment’ and it means that they will just improve the implementation of the already-revised-SOFA not modify it.
We seriously wonder who MOFAT works for. Does the Korean government have the will to solve the problems; the US army assaults the sovereignty of Korea. We urge the Blue House and MOFAT to try to assert their sovereignty by modifying SOFA.
Green Korea United, MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Peace Korea, Women Making Peace, Korea Women’s Associations United, Korea Women Link, Korea Women’s Hot Line, Korean Federation for Environmental Movement
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