Mexican lawmakers must reform the nation's military justice system to combat human rights abuses committed by army and navy personnel, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Friday. AI reports that the number of enforced disappearances in the nation has increased drastically since the federal government launched a military initiative to interrupt organized crime cells in 2006. According to the Mexican government more than 26,000 people have disappeared since then, and AI has documented more than 85 instances where public officials were involved. AI asserts [press release] the Mexican military justice system is too broad in scope, often rendering the civilian justice system powerless. As a result, military courts investigate and try cases involving human rights violations committed by military personnel against civilians, which, according to AI, has resulted in prevailing impunity. AI urged Mexican lawmakers to implement measures immediately in order to align the nation's military justice framework with international standards.
"Enforced disappearances" refer to the practice of placing people in secret detention for weeks or months without ever being brought before a judge. In June AI called on the Mexican government to investigate the disappearances [JURIST report] of thousands of people and acknowledge the government's involvement in the disappearances. AI's report stated 26,121 people were reported disappeared or missing between December 2006 and December 2012, but 40 percent of the cases were not investigated. In May the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns urged [JURIST report] Mexico's government to better protect against human rights abuses, particularly with respect to the military's use of force against civilians. In February Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported [JURIST report] that Mexican security forces have enforced or participated in widespread "disappearances" in which individuals are taken against their will.