Speeches on Mexican Army Day congratulating the military for participating in the job of providing internal security, the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, and peace operations abroad, some are suggesting, should be complemented by a discussion about the modernization of the legal framework that regulates the activities of soldiers outside their barracks and that modernizes the paralyzed system of military justice.
Last year reforms to the Code of Military Justice removed cases of human rights violations committed by members of the military against civilians from military jurisdiction and transferred them to civilian jurisdiction, as required by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights judgments against Mexico. These reforms are considered insufficient.
A group of lower house Parliamentarians from the PRI (the Party of Peña Nieto, the President of Mexico), headed by Carlos Sarabia Camacho, are promoting the approval of a package of reforms to the Code of Military Justice, which they consider obsolete. Sarabia is an ex-Captain and the only member of the Mexican Parliament with a military background.
Sarabia noted: "We have to reach the point where there is certainty and that the military tribunals have the necessary tools, and above all, are firm and clear about what they are doing. A member of the military, a lieutenant, now doesn't know, when he is going to carry out a mission, if he will be judged by military or civilian jurisdiction, and this creates uncertainty."
The modernization of the military legal code is urgent today Sarabia emphasized because there are cases in which members of the Army are involved, like Tlatlaya and Calera in Zacatecas, in which charges have been brought and proceedings have begun against active duty military officials. On June 30, 2014, orders were given to the Mexican military "to take out criminals" in the Tlatlaya area and some 22 people were killed. The attorney general charged seven of the military officials with the killing of eight people. When the military learned of this it opened parallel proceedings under military jurisdiction. In the municipality Calera in Zacatecas, four members of the military were detained in a military prison for having raided seven homes in an operation conducted on July 7, 2015, in which the military patrol was searching for arms and drugs that resulted in the detention and disappearance of seven laborers. The bodies of the seven, subsequently, were found. The investigation is being carried out by a military prosecutor but may be turned over to civilian authorities.