Mexico lawmakers approve reform to allow civilian courts to try troops in rights abuse cases

Mexican lawmakers have unanimously approved historic amendments to the country's military justice code that will allow members of the armed forces who commit a crime against civilians to be tried in civilian courts.

The amendments were approved by on a 428-0 vote in the House of Deputies on Wednesday. The Senate approved the changes unanimously last week.

The move comes after several rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that urged Mexico to use civilian courts to try soldiers who abuse human rights.

Thousands of soldiers and marines have been patrolling the streets since then-President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on drug traffickers in late 2006. He decided to rely on the armed forces because of rampant corruption in local and state police departments.