Published : 2013-12-09 20:17
Updated : 2013-12-09 20:17
South Korea and the United States are set to revise their joint guidelines on U.S. Forces Korea's patrol activities, sources said Monday, following a controversial incident last year in which a group of American military officers handcuffed three local civilians.
South Korea's prosecution is seeking to indict seven U.S. military police officers on charges of violence for handcuffing three South Korean citizens last July in Pyeongtaek, a provincial city 70 kilometers south of Seoul.
While patrolling the vicinity of their military base in the regional city, the soldiers used force and handcuffed three civilians in a dispute over parking near U.S. military facilities.
As part of efforts to better define USFK's patrol missions and prevent a repeat of such an incident, the joint Seoul-Washington committee on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Korea will hold a meeting on Wednesday in Seoul to revise the guidelines for the clause on American soldiers' patrols outside U.S. military facilities, according to the sources. SOFA governs the legal status of the 28,500 U.S. soldiers stationed here.
If the revision is made as planned, it would be the allies' first amendment to the guidelines under the controversial SOFA regulation written in 1967.
South Korean authorities have often failed to take legal action against U.S. soldiers accused of crime due to the SOFA regulation that helps the suspects end up in the hands of U.S. authorities.
In the revised guidelines, the two sides will clearly state the allowable scope and manner of U.S. forces' patrol activities, the sources said.
It is also believed to contain a rule prohibiting American soldiers from law enforcement activities against South Korean civilians outside U.S. military facilities.
The current guidelines stipulate that patrols by American soldiers beyond the boundaries of U.S. military facilities should be limited to matters related to the USFK and that joint patrols between South Korean and U.S. officers should be fully utilized.
As part of prevention efforts, USFK has banned its soldiers from carrying arms while conducting patrols outside the military bases.
"This coming revision is also expected to help increase the effectiveness of the guidelines on (USFK's) patrols conducted outside of their military bases," a foreign ministry official said. (Yonhap News)