Maricela Vazquez and Carla Palacios are human rights lawyers in Paso del Norte Human Rights Centre, established to represent the families of victims of torture and forced disappearances in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
"From 2008 to 2012 we documented very high rates of corruption and impunity, reaching rates of 98%. We have verified and denounced the increase in torture as a practice of investigation and punishment" Carla Palacios
Torture continues to be practiced systematically by authorities at every level in Mexico. During the "war on crime" in Chihuahua not one soldier or police has been prosecuted or punished for torture. Just two were prosecuted between 2006 and 2010, despite complaints of torture rising by 500% across the same period. Videos surfaced of people being tortured by ministerial and municipal agents, who retained their positions.
Maricela and Carla work in an environment of executions, corruption, impunity and widespread violence against women. In 2018 alone, 3,580 women were killed in Mexico – a rate of nine per day on average. Their organisation has been the subject of consistent pressure from state and federal authorities, including surveillance, threats, and a raid following an emblematic torture case in 2011. Their high level of risk is due to complaints they have filed against members of the security forces.
"My father would ask if this work was really worth the risks- I would say that yes, it is" Maricela Vazquez