SOUTH KOREA: Sexual crimes against minor girls by US military based in South Korea 

Dear friends,

We wish to share with you the following statement from the Women Making Peace (WMP) and the Korean Women’s Association United.

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong


A Statement from the Women Making Peace (WMP) and the Korean Women’s Association United forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

A teenage girl was allegedly raped by a US soldier in Seoul on September 17th, 2011. Another teenage girl was heinously raped for four hours by another U.S. solider in Dongducheon, Gyunggi Province on September 24.

Those crimes were so brutal that it called for South Korean police to detain the suspects for investigation. However, South Korean police could not arrest them because of the Status of Forces Agreement between the Republic of Korea and the U.S. (SOFA), which contains a clause stating that South Korean police cannot detain U.S. servicemen for questioning, unless the criminal was caught in the very act. In other words, this clause prevented swift investigation.
The South Korean prosecutor arrested and indicted the suspect in Dongducheon case after the irate public took the case to the streets.

The U.S. Army has formulated a zero tolerance policy on and claims to train inductees againstsexual crimes. However, sexual violence against civilians continues to occur. Yet, in most suspect are set free after a crime actually occurs and are protected so that they avoid the hands of the laws, with the US army claiming that the crime is the suspect’s personal matter and placing utmost priority on the military personnel’s safety.

The SOFA makes it difficult for South Korean police to investigate suspects under custody and for the South Korean prosecution to indict.

Suspects simply believe that it is best to first flee the scene of the crime. The South Korean people are resentful and disappointed at this pattern of not being able to execute law justly in response to U.S. troops’s infringements of the human rights of civilians. We women cannot help but doubt the very foundation of “the Strategic Partnership between ROK and the U.S. for the 21st Century”, which insisted to contribute to world peace, based on universal values including human rights and mutual trust.

Thus, we women demand the following for the purpose of establishing a rightful South Korea-U.S. relationship that is both fair and guarantees mutual benefit.

1. We demand that the United States officially apologize for the vicious rapes of teenage girls by U.S. soliders; and that the U.S. Army change its policy toward U.S. military and civilian personnel who commit crimes against South Koreans, to make the policy actually effective for the purpose of preventing recurrent crimes.

2. We demand SOFA to be revised so that U.S. military personnel who commit crimes against civilians can be processed and tried under jurisdiction of the region in which the suspect is stationed; that the process of compensating victims is stipulated; and to guarantee that
South Korean police can question U.S. military personnel under custody and South Korean prosecution can indite them under custody, even for those suspects not caught in the act.

3. The SOFA should contain a provision on protecting the human rights of women and children. The SOFA also needs to stipulate the prevention of all forms of violence against women and children by U.S. troops in the region in which they are stationed; harsher punishment (harsher than existing in the penal codes of both countries) for those who commit violence against women and children; and compensation for victims better than currently practiced in both countries.

4. We women will review the problems in the SOFA and will form solidarity with both domestic and international “conscience” forces to change the unfair structure of the South Korea-U.S. relationship.

For more information, please contact,

Ms. Jung, Gyung-Lan
Tel: +82 (2) 275 4860
Fax: +82 (2) 275 4861

The Women Making Peace (WMP) is a human rights organization aiming to realize reunification and peace on the Korean peninsula and to promote peace in the wider Asian region and throughout the world.

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Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-054-2011
Countries : South Korea,
Issues : Child rights, Democracy, Impunity, Military, Right to life, Rule of law, Sexual violence, Women's rights,