[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Why keep giving NGOs a platform?Your article on the U.S.-Korea Status of Forces Agreement (Monday) concludes, like most articles on incidents involving U.S. forces, with the position of an anti-American group which is less interested in an equal SOFA than finding reasons to criticize the presence of U.S. forces. Why not give the last word to the subject matter experts rather than always to the same group of anti-American activists who take few pains to hide their agenda?
The point of a SOFA is to insure that the host country provides certain minimum legal safeguards to the stationed troops. The U.S. soldiers are not in Korea voluntarily; their position is very different from that of tourists who can come and go from Korea of their own volition. They are here at the request of the Korean government, and the Korean government has agreed to afford them certain fundamental procedural rights, whether or not these rights are accorded to Korean citizens, even while they remain subject to the same substantive laws that govern Koreans.
The U.S. authorities are generally too polite to mention their concerns about the Korean criminal justice system. But the Seoul Prosecutor’s Office was embarrassed by the public discovery of three “special interrogation rooms” at its headquarters last year. The pretrial confinement is designed to apply pressure and obtain a confession.
In your article you mentioned that some NGO’s have suggested that without pretrial confinement, U.S. servicemembers would not be “cooperative.” I interpret this to mean that if U.S. suspects are held in pretrial confinement, there is a higher likelihood that they can be induced to confess.
by Robert Gilbert