Thursday, May 21, 2015

Inter-American Court to Mexico: another change is needed

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that Mexico's military justice system needs to be further amended in order to satisfy human rights requirements. According to this article:
Even though Mexico, in June 2014, limited the scope of military jurisdiction, requiring soldiers who violate the human rights of civilians be tried in civilian courts, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has now concluded that that legal reform is insufficient as it does not apply to cases where the victim is another member of the Armed Forces. 
By a decision issued on April 17, the court ruled that, even though Article 57 of the Code of Military Justice was amended last year, it "continues to include wording that does not conform with the aforementioned [international] standards because it allows that court jurisdiction to conduct the investigation and prosecution of human rights violations, when the accused is a military man and the victim is also a military."

Specifically, the court found that current Mexican legislation still does not fully recognize that "military justice is not the competent jurisdiction to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of human rights even though both the perpetrator and the victim are military."

In addition, the inter-American judicial body stressed that "military courts can only judge the commission of crimes or offenses that, by their very nature, infringe the legal interests of military order" and human rights go beyond that order.

The 2014 reform of the Code of Military Justice, it should be recalled, was the result of a 2010 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights against the Mexican State, finding that military courts had been used to conceal soldiers involved in a case of illegal detention and torture.

Thus, although the court recognized that the 2014 reform "is an important harmonization of domestic law with Convention and international standards," it also stressed that it is not "full compliance" with the 2010 judgment.

For this reason, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights urged Mexico to take the measures necessary to adapt domestic law completely, within a reasonable time, so that soldiers who violate another person's rights are subject to civilian justice, even when the victim is also a member of the Armed Forces. [Rough Google translation.] 

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