Calderón’s Proposal To Try Mexican Soldiers In Civilian Courts Doesn’t Go Far Enough, Human Rights Groups Say

Mexican drug war spokesman Alejandro Poiré.
Mexican drug war spokesman Alejandro Poiré.
Mexican drug war spokesman Alejandro Poiré.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Human rights groups criticized a proposal by Mexican President Felipe Calderón to try soldiers in civilian courts, saying the law would not go far enough, The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday.

The proposal, which has been submitted to Mexico’s Congress, would require civilian trials for soldiers charged with rape, torture and forced disappearances. Mexican soldiers accused of such crimes currently stand trial in military courts.

But the law would exclude other serious crimes that have tainted the Mexican military’s reputation in recent years, including unlawful detention and extrajudicial killings, The L.A. Times reports.

“Any reform of the military code should include civilian jurisdiction for all human rights abuses, not just a selection of certain abuses,” said Maureen Meyer, of the Washington Office on Latin America.

Mexico’s drug war spokesman Alejandro Poiré defended the measure, saying “This proposed reform doesn’t eliminate military jurisdiction — it modernizes it.”

Other human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, issued statements urging the Mexican congressmen to expand the scope of the law.

The decision to alter military jurisdiction over violent crimes committed by soldiers against civilians was prompted by a November ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that condemned the Mexican government for failing to adequately investigate the 1974 disappearance of a guerrilla sympathizer, The Associated Press reports.

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