On April 30, 2009, four senators from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) proposed amendments to the Mexican Code of Military Justice and the Federal Law against Organized Crime. For the next five years more proposals and amendments were added by different Senators and parliamentary committees and on April 24, as Gene Fidell reported, the Mexican Senate unanimously approved an amendment to the Code of Military Justice to allow for members of the armed forces who commit a crime against civilians to be tried in civilian courts. This change was brought about by the efforts of both the Mexican judiciary and Congress to comply with the November 23, 2009 judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Radilla Pacheco v. Mexico, in which the Inter- American Court called upon the state to adopt the appropriate legislative reforms in order to make its Code of Military Justice and the Federal Criminal Code compatible with the international standards in this subject and the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Mexican Senate gave as the initiative for the amendments the fact that Mexican society is in a serious state of insecurity due to diverse criminal groups. These groups operate generating terror in a violent and threatening manner. The aggression manifests itself by destabilizing national security and places in question the capacity of Mexico to guarantee the pacific cohesion of the civilian population. The Mexican National Human Rights Commission received until 2008 more than 6,000 complaints against the army for serious violations of human rights including some under the umbrella of narcotics operations. The Mexican National Human Rights Commission mentioned that the crimes complained of included serious violations such as torture, robbery, privation of life and intimidation.
The amendments are designed to treat the member of the military as a civil servant who is no different from any other public servant. For that reason there should not exist specialized tribunals for members of the military since they do not exist for civil servants.
Article 57 of the Code of Military Justice is to be reformed stipulating that the crimes against military discipline are those committed by members of the military while in service and those in which both the military and civilians are involved will be under the jurisdiction of the civilian authorities.
The punishment for crimes against civilians in which members of the military are involved will be increased in Article 5 of the Federal Law against Organized Crime, which sets forth the sentences that will be imposed on those who commit offenses while involved in organized crime.