With the support of ProtectDefenders.eu, Peace Brigades International (PBI) invited Maricela Vázquez, a lawyer from the Paso del Norte Center for Human Rights (PDN), to an advocacy tour in Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, from 16 September 2019 to 4 October 2019.
in Brussels, and before members of the European Parliament, Maricela Vázquez – together with a delegation of defenders, spoke about the human rights situation in Mexico, focusing on disappearances, torture, femicide, the situation of vulnerable groups such as defenders or migrants and the criminalisation of the defence of land and territory.
In Switzerland, Maricela Vázquez met with special United Nations procedures such as the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, to follow up on the case of Adrián Favela and Adriel Ávila.
These young people were disappeared in 2012, when several individuals in civilian clothes, carrying long weapons and identifying themselves as ministerial police, arrived at the Favela Márquez family's home and forcibly removed them according to several witnesses. The case is still under investigation and, according to the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center, this has been marked by the failure to comply with court orders at established times and the lack of progress and responses to find the whereabouts of the youth.
In her address during the session of the 42nd United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Maricela Vázquez insisted that access to justice in Mexico is made more difficult when “70% of human rights violations are committed by the armed forces. " The alarming situation of violence and its impacts was presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, where lawyer Vázquez shared the figures of 24 defenders and 15 journalists killed in the current administration.
In Brussels, before members of the European Parliament, a delegation of human rights defenders, including the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center, spoke about the human rights situation in Mexico, focusing on disappearances, torture, femicide, the situation vulnerable groups such as defenders or migrants and the criminalization of the defense of land and territory.
Maricela Vázquez warned that torture is still practiced as an investigative method and asked the European Union for greater vigilance in the implementation of the Istanbul protocol in the framework of the agreement between the EU and Mexico to prevent and eradicate torture. He stressed that one of the causes would be the lack of harmonization of the General Laws on Disappearance and Torture in the Federal States.
She also called on the European Union to carry out more preventive actions against attacks against defenders and invited the EU Joint Parliamentary Commission to visit Ciudad Juárez. In a debate in the European Parliament, the Green MEP, Anna Cavazzini, called the EU for putting more pressure on the respect of Human Rights in Mexico and proposed to establish mechanisms of economic sanctions in case of non-compliance. Additionally, meetings were held with European institutions such as the EU's European External Action Service and 7 Permanent State Representations in Brussels.
During the European tour, Maricela Vázquez met in the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Netherlands, with the ministries of foreign affairs from whom they requested technical assistance in the forensic identification of missing persons, training of Mexican forensic experts and follow-up to the Federal Mechanism for the Protection of Defenders and Journalists.