National/International: Inter-American Court resolves that Mexican law on military tribunals remains inadequate

June 9, 2015

On 13 and 14 May, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) published two resolutions regarding the observance of four sentences the Court had handed down against the Mexican State (2009 and 2010), in cases related to abuses committed by Army soldiers (including forcible disappearance, torture, and sexual violence). The Court concludes that exist legislation on military tribunals continues without having standardized with international legal expectations.

The Court indicates that the limitations of existing law were demonstrated clearly by the Tlatlaya massacre in Mexico State: “In this case, if it is that the extrajudicial executions continue to be judged in civil courts, the cause will remain fragmented, as the Secretary for National Defense (SEDENA) has retained the military tribunal as appropriate for the judgment of certain crimes committed by soldiers, thus opening the possibility that the evidence be diverted, and that parallel cases may run, coming to different conclusions.” It determined for this reason that “military jurisdiction is not competent for the investigation, judgment, and punishment of those who violate human rights, particularly when either the perpetrator or victim is a soldier.”

For their part, civil legal organizations have requested that the debate on the Military Justice Code be opened during the next congressional session. They have stressed that “both the Committee against Forcible Disappearances and the United Nations Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, and Degrading Treatments have recommended that Mexico adopt legal measures to exclude human rights violations committed by soldiers from being considered by military tribunals. Instead, these acts must be investigated and judged by civilian authorities.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Fuero militar sigue violando derechos humanos en México: Corte Interamericana (OSC, 18 de mayo de 2015)

Emplaza CoIDH a México cumplir sentencias sobre abusos militares(Proceso, 18 de mayo de 2015)

Insuficiente, la reforma en materia de fuero militar: CIDH (La Jornada, 18 de mayo de 2015)

Reforma al fuero militar en México no cumple la norma internacional: Corte Interamericana de DH (Animal Político, 20 de mayo de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: Senate approves reform to Military Justice Code (2 May 2014)