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Military Justice and Impunity in Mexico’s Drug War

By Kritin Bricker for The Centre for International Governance Innovation. During Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s administration, over 5,000 human rights complaints have been filed against the military, but only one soldier has been punished by the military justice system. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) has issued several rulings ordering Mexico to reform military jurisdiction so all crimes against civilians are handled by the civilian court system. Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled on July 12, 2011 that the military should not have jurisdiction over cases of human rights abuse by soldiers. This issue paper argues that the Arce Initiative, put forward by Senator René Arce from Mexico’s opposition party, is the only proposed reform to military jurisdiction that complies with both the IACtHR rulings and international human rights law, unlike the proposal put forth by President Calderón. The paper concludes that the UN and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should maintain their pressure on the Mexican government to reform the Code of Military Justice to ensure all human rights violations are tried in civilian courts.

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