Panama reviewed by UPR
Thursday, 11 November 2010 18:33


The Panamanian delegation, led by the Minister of the Interior Roxana Mendez, presented its report during the 9th session of the Universal Periodic Review on November 2, 2010. Taking the floor three times, first in the presentation of its report and then later to address follow-up questions and recommendations made by States during the interactive dialogue, the State answered questions  on many of the most pressing human rights issues within the state of Panama.


Presenting its report, the State delegation of Panama began by giving assurances that the State report had been compiled with the extensive involvement of civil society actors. The report focused primarily on issues of gender equality, labour rights, education, the rights of the child, and the rights of indigenous communities, highlighting the steps that Panama had taken to improve the domestic human rights situation in each of these respective fields.


During the interactive dialogue, States responded with a mixture of praise and criticism in a variety of different areas. Numerous States applauded Panama’s inclusive migration policies; [1] Colombia, for example, acknowledged the positive treatment of its own national migrants in Panama. This position on minorities was not universal, however.  France and Germany expressed concern over the extent to which the rights of indigenous groups were being implemented, while multiple States recommended that Panama increase its efforts to end discrimination against minorities, particularly with regard to black Panamanians.[2]


Questions were also raised about the behaviour of policing authorities in Panama, with many States voicing concerns over the treatment of individuals during the July protests in Bocas del Toro, in which clashes between protestors from trade unions and the federal authorities left two people dead and dozens injured. This caused alarm among many Western States.[3] The Panamanian delegation assured States that victims and families of victims would be provided with compensation, ranging from providing free medical care to covering funeral costs. The delegation added that all individuals detained over the course of these protests had since been released. They also added that trade unions in principle enjoy full rights of freedom of assembly, although this claim was openly questioned by the Netherlands.


Gender inequality was a topic brought up by numerous states, as was the issue of persistent problems relating to child labour in Panama.[4] The treatment of detainees was another widely-discussed matter during the review, with Brazil and the United Kingdom voicing concerns over the size of the prison population. Italy and the Netherlands expressed the need to shorten the length of pre-trial detentions, with 60% of those being detained while awaiting trial currently facing delays in their trial process.   The Panamanian delegation responded by assuring States that new measures and procedures were being explored to cut prison population figures and to shorten the length of pre-trial detention. [5]

The Panamanian delegation also received complimentary feedback in certain areas, particularly regarding the state’s efforts to end discrimination again women.[6] Italy, meanwhile, singled out Panama’s attempts to achieve universal primary education as constituting a positive move, while numerous neighbouring states from the region, such as Guatemala and Nicaragua, praised the general direction that Panama was taking and encouraged further efforts in consolidating human rights.


Panama was recommended to sign a variety of treaties, including the optional protocol of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the optional protocol of the Convention Against Torture. The Panamanian delegation said that the state was looking into these options. Panama also pledged to look into joining additional international conventions, one example being the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The delegation  added that it would also seek to establish a national human rights institution with the help of civil society actors and other states.


The Working Group made 92 recommendations in total to Panama. Panama declared its support for 71 of these recommendations (33 of which it believed it had already implemented), and proposed to consider the remaining 21. No recommendations were rejected outright.

[1] Algeria, Morocco, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago.

[2] Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Jamaica.

[3] The United States of America, The United Kingdom, Germany, Norway and Canada.

[4] States to address the issue of gender inequality were Bangladesh, Germany, Hungary and Norway, and states to address the issue of child labour were Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovenia.

[5] This was being achieved through alternative methods such as the commutation of sentences, the placement of individuals under house arrest, and the introduction of electronic bracelets.

[6] China, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina brought this up.


© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019