Torture in  [Panama]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Panama]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Panama]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Panama]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century                                                                

Republic of Panama

Panama's dollarized economy rests primarily on a well-developed services sector that accounts for 80% of GDP.

Economic growth will be bolstered by the Panama Canal expansion project that began in 2007 and is scheduled to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $5.3 billion - about 25% of current GDP. The expansion project will more than double the Canal's capacity, enabling it to accommodate ships that are now too large to transverse the transoceanic crossway, and should help to reduce the high unemployment rate.

Description: Description: Panama

Strong economic performance has reduced the national poverty level to 29% in 2008; however, Panama has the second most unequal income distribution in Latin America.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Panama.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.

*** ARCHIVES ***

The state of the world's human rights

Amnesty International AI, Annual Report 2013

[accessed 3 March 2014]


Possible excessive use of force by the security forces remained a concern.

Two Indigenous people were killed and 40 people, including police officers, were wounded during protests by the Ngöbe-Buglé Indigenous People in January and February. The protests were sparked by proposed laws that would make it easier for companies to build hydroelectric projects on Ngöbe-Buglé land. Reports indicated that the police used tear gas in close proximity to medical centres and that those arrested were denied access to legal representation. In February, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples urged the government to open a dialogue with the Ngöbe-Buglé affected, to investigate the circumstances of the deaths and to ensure that those responsible were held to account.

Three people, including a nine-year-old boy, were reportedly killed during protests in October against the proposed sale of state-owned Free Trade Zones in the city of Colón. The police reported that several officers had been injured by gunshots and missiles thrown by some of the protesters.


Efforts to ensure justice for victims of human rights violations during the military governments (1968-1989) made slow progress. In January, the government established a Special National Commission to assist in locating and identifying the remains of victims of enforced disappearance. A Truth Commission, which reported in 2002, estimated that 207 people had been forcibly disappeared and killed under the military governments.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2013]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Prison guards occasionally abused inmates. While admitting there were complaints against prison guards, the PNP's Professional Responsibility Office (DRP) did not provide statistics on the number of complaints of alleged police abuse against prison inmates.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 1   Civil Liberties: 2   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 10 February 2013]

The military was formally abolished in 1994. The police and other security forces that remain, while accountable to civilian authorities through a publicly disclosed budget, are poorly disciplined and corrupt. Like the country’s prison guards, police officers frequently use excessive force.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. A/53/44, paras. 206-219 (1998)

[accessed 5 March 2013]

3. Subjects of concern

218. The Committee is concerned about the following:

(a) The absence in Panama's legislation of a stipulated maximum duration of pre-trial detention;

(b) The high proportion of unsentenced detainees in Panama's prisons;

(c) The possibility that compliance with article 3, paragraph 1, of the Convention may be jeopardized by the repatriation of refugees coming from neighbouring countries.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Panama",, [accessed <date>]



Torture in  [Panama]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Panama]  [other countries]
Street Children in  [Panama]  [other countries]
Child Prostitution in  [Panama]  [other countries]