Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Military Justice Reforms in Mexico

May 9, 2014

Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the recent approval by the Mexican Congress of reforms to the Code of Military Justice restricting the scope of military jurisdiction.

Under these reforms, cases involving human rights violations committed by members of the military against civilians will be tried exclusively by the civilian justice system and not by military courts. The IACHR welcomes this reform as an important step in the protection of fundamental rights in Mexico and in the fulfillment of the State of Mexico’s international human rights obligations, primarily regarding guarantees of the right to truth, justice, and reparation for victims and their family members.

In addition, the Commission values the fact that the recent reforms to the Code of Military Justice come in the context of the State of Mexico’s compliance with recommendations issued by this Commission in its 1998 country report and in the case involving the González Pérez sisters, among others. These reforms also comply with the reparations established by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in four judgments: Rosendo Radilla (2009), Rosendo Cantú et al. (2010), Fernández Ortega et al. (2010), and Cabrera García and Montiel Flores (2010).

In these decisions, the Inter-American Court ruled that Mexico must carry out appropriate legislative reforms to the Code of Military Justice to make it compatible with international human rights standards. In these judgments, the Inter-American Court indicated that “[i]n a democratic State of law, the military criminal jurisdiction shall have a restrictive and exceptional scope and be directed toward the protection of special juridical interests, related to the tasks characteristic of the military forces.” The IACHR also calls to mind that on July 12, 2011, Mexico’s Supreme Court decided to adopt the guiding principle of restricting military jurisdiction in cases in which members of the armed forces commit human rights violations.

Furthermore, the Inter-American Commission urges the State to ensure that its legislation clearly indicate that the nature of right that has been affected should be the determining factor in establishing jurisdiction.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 53/14