UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 17 PANAMA 000555
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN PIERCE, G/TIP RACHEL OWEN, G, INL,
DRL, PRM, IWI, WHA/PPC/PUCCETTI FALLS
STATE PASS FOR USAID
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB PM LABOR HUMAN RIGHTSPOLMIL
SUBJECT: PANAMA'S INPUT FOR FIFTH ANNUAL ANTI-TRAFFICKING
IN PERSONS (TIP) REPORT
REF: A. 04 STATE 273089
Â¶B. 04 PANAMA 02153
Â¶C. PANAMA 00338
Â¶D. 04 PANAMA 00548
Â¶E. 04 PANAMA 00148
Â¶F. 2004 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT FOR PANAMA
Â¶G. PANAMA 00390
Â¶H. 04 PANAMA 02589
Â¶I. PANAMA 00088
Â¶J. 04 PANAMA 02613
Â¶1. (SBU) Embassy Panama believes that trafficking in
persons (TIP) is a relatively small and manageable problem,
involving around 200-500 victims. In 2004, Embassy worked
closely with the Government of Panama (GOP) to discover the
true extent of TIP in Panama and to strengthen the anti-TIP
legal framework, investigate and prosecute traffickers;
publicize the crimes associated with TIP; train officers and
staff; reduce the number of TIP victims; and improve the care
they receive. Passage of the March 2004 anti-TIP law was a
positive step that greatly enhanced the GOP's ability to
publicize and prosecute TIP and to protect victims. In
October the Technical Judicial Police (PTJ) created a Sexual
Exploitation Section within its Sex Crimes Unit; in November
the Ministry of Children, Youth, Women and Family (MINJUMFA)
initiated an awareness campaign and began seeking shelter and
counseling services for more TIP victims; and in February
2005 the Attorney General convoked a permanent anti-TIP
commission. As seen with Panama's July 2004 ratification of
the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish
Trafficking in Persons, the National Assembly is increasingly
"on alert" about TIP. The GOP is pushing for tougher
anti-TIP measures. The GOP is open to suggestions from
Embassy-G/TIP and the GOP has reached out to the
international community for help in addressing its TIP
problem. Nonetheless, the Immigration Directorate continues
to favor issuance of "alternadora" visas for female sex
workers, citing public health concerns. End Summary.
Â¶2. (U) Per Reftel A Embassy Panama is pleased to submit its
input for the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report.
Classified information regarding corruption will be sent by
IS THE COUNTRY A COUNTRY OF ORIGIN, TRANSIT OR DESTINATION
FOR INTERNATIONALLY TRAFFICKED MEN, WOMEN OR CHILDREN?
SPECIFY NUMBERS WITHIN EACH GROUP. DOES THE TRAFFICKING
OCCUR WITHIN THE COUNTRY'S BORDERS?
Â¶3. (SBU) Panama is a country primarily of destination for
internationally trafficked men, women, and children and a
country of origin primarily for internally trafficked
children. Embassy estimates that approximately 125-375
children (both boys and girls), 75-125 women, and 0 men are
trafficked annually in Panama, 95% of whom are trafficked
DOES IT OCCUR IN AN AREA OUTSIDE THE GOVERNMENT'S CONTROL?
Â¶4. (SBU) Commercial sexual exploitation of children occurs
disproportionately in Darien province, a remote area that has
little infrastructure and has historically received few
government resources. The prosecutor for the Darien region
suspects, but has limited proof, that at least one
traditional leader of one of Panama's semiautonomous
indigenous groups in the Darien area offers indigenous girls
ARE THERE ESTIMATES OR RELIABLE NUMBERS AVAILABLE AS TO THE
EXTENT OR MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM? PLEASE INCLUDE ANY
NUMBERS OF VICTIMS. WHAT IS (ARE) THE SOURCE(S) OF AVAILABLE
INFORMATION ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS? HOW RELIABLE ARE THE
NUMBERS AND THESE SOURCES?
Â¶5. (SBU) GOP tracks arrests, investigations, and victim
complaints, and deportations of illegal foreign sex workers.
The International Labor Organization (ILO)/Program for
Eradication of Child Labor (IPEC), along with academics at
the University of Panama (UP), publish reports on commercial
sexual exploitation of minors. (NOTE: ILO/IPEC is working
regionally to combat commercial sexual exploitation of
minors. End Note.) Panama's press has reported on the trade
involving underage sex workers and arrests and prosecutions
of their traffickers. GOP and NGO officials also provide
verbal reports and updates to Emboffs on numbers of TIP
victims. GOP and ILO reports and commentary are reliable.
Press reports at times are reliable, but are often
sensationalized. Embassy evaluated the sources of the
reports and took a "realistic and solid evidence" approach,
basing total TIP victims numbers on verifiable evidence and
knowledge of Panama's overall social and economic conditions.
Â¶6. (SBU) The estimated annual number of Women victims is
75-125. The estimates for the adults does assume that a
small percentage (5-10%) of female sex workers in Panama or
transiting Panama could be considered TIP victims.
Immigration Department statistics indicate that approximately
367 women were deported for working illegally in the sex
trade from January through November 2004, mainly Colombians.
Immigration officials indicate that illegal sex workers also
include women from the Dominican Republic. Immigration
officials reported that none of these women claimed to be TIP
victims. All knowledgeable TIP sources agree that the
overwhelming majority of adult female sex workers in Panama
or transiting Panama have chosen their profession freely.
(Note: There have been unsubstantiated allegations of debt
bondage amongst smuggled Mainland Chinese. (reftel E) A 2002
paper by OAS Chinese migration consultant Dr. Ramon Mon
describes a press account of Chinese debt bondage in Panama
in the early 1990s. No recent evidence has been uncovered to
support such allegations. Embassy continues to search for
more credible evidence and the GOP invited Dr. Mon to
participate in its DOJ-sponsored TIP training March 7-9.
Estimates are not provided for debt bondage TIP victims. End
Â¶7. (SBU) The estimated annual number of minor TIP victims
is 125-375 (both male and female), primarily victims of
internal trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
This estimate is based on ILO/IPEC reports; recent police
busts; meetings with NGOs, prosecutors, and investigators;
and extrapolation. The ILO reports indicate that there are
at least 100 minors who are sexually exploited for commercial
purposes. Since March 2004, an ILO/IPEC pilot program with
local officials in Veraguas province removed approximately
130 girls from child domestic labor, some of whom may have
also been trafficking victims (reftel B).
Â¶8. (SBU) (Note: Although the estimate is higher than in
last year's report (reftel D), Embassy does not believe that
the actual number of victims is increasing. Rather, GOP
prevention and awareness campaigns have resulted in more
victims and witnesses coming forward. Similarly, the March
2004 anti-TIP law gave prosecutors and police investigators
greater investigative powers, allowing the GOP to uncover
WHERE ARE PERSONS TRAFFICKED FROM? WHERE ARE THE PERSONS
Â¶9. (SBU) Women are trafficked from Colombia (primarily) and
the Dominican Republic to Panama, Costa Rica, United States
(through Central America) and Europe. There is some credible
evidence that minors have been trafficked from Colombia to
Panama in previous years. Child domestic laborers who may be
trafficking victims originate primarily from western
provinces and go to Panama City. Children trafficked for
commercial sexual exploitation are trafficked primarily
within Panama City and from Darien province to Panama City.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CHANGES IN THE DIRECTION OR EXTENT OF
Â¶10. (SBU) In the past year it is likely that trafficking
slowed because of vigorous investigation and prosecution
under the March 2004 anti-TIP law. During 2004, the GOP
"suspended" issuance of the "alternadora visa" (reftel F).
GOP officials reported that because Colombians can enter
Panama without a visa, Colombians entered Panama as tourists
and began to practice prostitution without regulation and
ARE THERE EFFORTS OR SURVEYS PLANNED OR UNDERWAY TO DOCUMENT
THE EXTENT AND NATURE OF TRAFFICKING IN THE COUNTRY? IS ANY
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM SUCH REPORTS OR SURVEYS
THAT WAS NOT AVAILABLE LAST YEAR?
Â¶11. (SBU) NGOs publish reports on the health status of sex
workers in Panama. ILO/IPEC publishes reports and studies on
the extent of commercial sexual exploitation of minors in
Panama. ILO also publishes reports on child domestic labor
in Panama. Most of their reports have been published within
the last three years. Since last year, ILO reports showed
that girls from Veraguas province may be trafficked for child
domestic labor (reftel B) and that commercial sexual
exploitation is linked to concepts of masculinity in Panama.
Â¶12. (SBU) TIP prevention and protection proposals by the
Attorney General's Office and MINJUMFA contemplate studies on
TIP (reftel C). The GOP tracks TIP victims' complaints
through the Panamanian Judicial Police (PTJ) Sex Crimes Unit
Sexual Exploitation Section. Under the March 2004 anti-TIP
law, authorities must send TIP case statistics to the
National Commission for Criminal Statistics (CONADEC). The
new anti-TIP commission (CONAPREDES) must study the
mechanisms for preventing and eliminating crimes of
commercial sexual exploitation. (reftel G) Immigration tracks
deportations of illegal sex workers, classified as "non-bona
IF THE COUNTRY IS A DESTINATION POINT FOR TRAFFICKED VICTIMS:
WHAT KIND OF CONDITIONS ARE THE VICTIMS TRAFFICKED INTO?
WHAT METHODS ARE USED TO ENSURE THEIR COMPLIANCE? ARE THE
VICTIMS SUBJECT TO VIOLENCE, THREATS, WITHHOLDING OF
DOCUMENTS, DEBT BONDAGE, ETC?
Â¶13. (SBU) Women and minors are trafficked into massage
parlors and nude dancing establishments, which also serve as
brothels. Many work on the streets. PTJ Sex Crime Unit
investigators, prosecutors, and judges indicate that
withholding documents (passports) and heavy debts are the
most common means of ensuring compliance. Withholding
documents is most common for those who are working illegally
(without work permits/"alternadora" visas) in prostitution.
Threats of violence have not been reported in the vast
majority of cases. In cases of internal trafficking of
minors for commercial sexual exploitation, victims and their
families have received threats of physical harm after the
victim, the PTJ, or prosecutors initiated investigations. In
cases of child domestic labor, girls may pay a fee to find a
job in the city which is deducted from their meager wages.
(Note: The March 2004 TIP law makes the withholding of
documents a crime punishable by 3-5 years in prison).
IF THE COUNTRY IS COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: WHICH POPULATIONS ARE
TARGETED BY TRAFFICKERS? WHO ARE THE TRAFFICKERS? WHAT
METHODS ARE USED TO APPROACH VICTIMS? WHAT METHODS ARE USED
TO MOVE VICTIMS?
Â¶14. (SBU) Panama is a country of origin for internal
trafficking. GOP and ILO reports indicate minors (girls) are
offered cash and clothing by those running sex worker rings.
Traffickers are usually non-family, third parties. According
to recent reports, girls are approached on the streets when
away from their parents by third parties. Victims are
transported within Panama by car and usually within a
relatively limited area. Adult victims are most likely
Colombian, and, to a lesser extent, Dominican female sex
workers who arrive willingly in Panama to work in the sex
trade but could become victims of TIP. In the case of child
domestic labor, recruiters contact rural girls hoping to
continue their education in the city and arrange for their
transportation for a fee to be deducted from wages (reftel
IS THERE POLITICAL WILL AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT
TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS? IS THE GOVERNMENT MAKING A
GOOD FAITH EFFORT TO SERIOUSLY ADDRESS TRAFFICKING? IS
THERE A WILLINGNESS TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS LINKED TO TIP? IN BROAD TERMS, WHAT RESOURCES IS
THE HOST GOVERNMENT DEVOTING TO COMBATING TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS (IN TERMS OF PREVENTION, PROTECTION, AND PROSECUTION)
Â¶15. (SBU) Throughout 2004, the GOP has demonstrated will at
the highest levels of government to combat trafficking in
persons and has made a good faith effort to seriously address
trafficking. In March 2004, the National Assembly passed and
former President Moscoso signed a new anti-TIP law that has
led to increased attention to TIP throughout the GOP,
institutionalizing the country's anti-TIP efforts at the
policy and the technical level. As a result of the
legislation, the PTJ's Sex Crimes Unit created a Sexual
Exploitation Section to combat crimes under the new law
(reftel H). Because the new law allowed PTJ investigators
and government prosecutors to initiate their own cases, the
PTJ and Prosecutors have devoted more time, energy, and
resources to combating TIP cases, generally cases of sexual
exploitation of minors. With an increasing number of
investigations and prosecutions, Attorney General Gomez
immediately identified combating TIP as a priority upon
taking office (reftel I). (NOTE: Domestic sexual violence
and non-commercial sexual exploitation. Resources and
manpower within the PTJ and the prosecutors' offices are
dedicated accordingly. End Note.)
Â¶16. (SBU) Attorney General Gomez acted quickly to convoke
the anti-TIP Commission CONAPREDES under the new law on
February 15. CONAPREDES includes policy makers from the
Ministry of Government and Justice (MOGJ), MINJUMFA, the
Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education. (reftel
G). Under the anti-TIP law, CONAPREDES is charged with
creating a fund from a special tax source for training,
education, and prevention. MINJUMFA Minister Calderon has
devoted additional vehicles, social workers, and shelter
services to TIP protection, particularly for victims from the
Darien region (reftel C). Minister Calderon and the Office
of the First Lady also initiated a TIP prevention program.
Â¶17. (SBU) MOGJ's Immigration Directorate conducts raids on
brothels and other establishments where TIP victims may be
present. These operations are carried out every two to three
months and on an ad-hoc basis responding to complaints and
leads. Immigration works in conjunction with the Panama
National Police (PNP). Immigration also increased airport
and border-crossing enforcement, often in conjunction and
with the assistance of USG resources. As discussed with
EmbOffs, Immigration officers are aware that certain visitors
to Panama fit the profile of persons seeking to work
illegally in the sex trade who could subsequently become or
are TIP victims. The National Air Service (SAN) and National
Marine Service SMN also conduct interdictions to apprehend
Â¶18. (SBU) Despite having no declared TIP victims through
immigration operations, Vice MOGJ Minister Olga Golcher
announced in February 2005 plans to create a special MOGJ
office to receive complaints from and to provide services to
TIP victims. The MOGJ has already initiated a new office of
Â¶19. (SBU) MINJUMFA and the Ministry of Education also have
projects designed to eliminate illegal child labor, forced or
otherwise. MINJUMFA also helps fund NGOs that are involved
in combating child labor, domestic violence, or victims'
assistance. Combating TIP has a natural link with their work
in these areas. For example, MINJUMFA funds the NGOs Casa
Esperanza (involved in fighting child labor) (reftel B) and
Casa Malambo (involved in sheltering victims) (reftel C).
Â¶20. (SBU) Embassy has on-going TIP dialogue with all levels
of the GOP. Embassy continues to work closely with the
highest levels of the GOP and believes the GOP will further
strengthen their anti-TIP efforts. However, some GOP
officials continue to support the use of the "alternadora
visa," citing public health reasons. Nonetheless, these GOP
officials have stated they wish to modify the "alternadora"
visa to ensure that it complies with the U.N. Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, which
Panama ratified in July 2004.
DO GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES OR INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF
GOVERNMENT FORCES FACILITATE OR CONDONE TRAFFICKING, OR ARE
THEY OTHERWISE COMPLICIT IN SUCH ACTIVITIES? DO GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS (SUCH AS CUSTOMS, BORDER GUARDS, IMMIGRATION
OFFICIALS, LABOR INSPECTORS, LOCAL POLICE, OR OTHERS) RECEIVE
BRIBES FROM TRAFFICKERS OR OTHERWISE ASSIST IN THEIR
OPERATIONS? WHAT PUNITIVE MEASURES, IF ANY, HAVE BEEN
TAKEN AGAINST THOSE INDIVIDUALS COMPLICIT OR INVOLVED IN
Â¶21. (U) This issue will be addressed in septel.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT'S ABILITY TO
ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM IN PRACTICE? FOR EXAMPLE, IS FUNDING
FOR POLICE OR INSTITUTIONS INADEQUATE?
Â¶22. (SBU) The new anti-TIP law allows prosecutors and PTJ
investigators to initiate their own cases, eliminating a past
limitation (reftel B, C, F Nonetheless, funding is limited
for TIP-specific investigations within PTJ, PNP, Immigration
and other GOP agencies. Lack of funding also hinders
coordination within the GOP and with civil society, hampering
prevention and protection efforts.
IS OVERALL CORRUPTION A PROBLEM?
Â¶23. (SBU) Corruption is a problem in Panama.
TO WHAT EXTENT DOES THE GOVERNMENT SYSTEMATICALLY MONITOR ITS
ANTI-TRAFFICKING EFFORTS (ON ALL FRONTS, PROSECUTION,
PREVENTION, AND VICTIM PROTECTION) AND PERIODICALLY MAKE
AVAILABLE, PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY AND DIRECTLY OR THROUGH
REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, ITS ASSESSMENTS OF
THESE ANTI-TRAFFICKING EFFORTS?
Â¶24. (SBU) The PTJ Sexual Exploitation Section keeps
excellent statistics on the TIP cases it sends for
prosecution, including the age and gender of victims and the
nationalities of the perpetrators. Immigration has
statistics on deportations, including those involving illegal
prostitution. The Judicial Branch compiles and distributes
statistics, but they are current only through 2003, prior to
the passage of the anti-TIP law. The GOP Ministries that
work to eradicate forced child labor and commercial sexual
exploitation of minors all track results of their projects.
The GOP shares its statistics with NGOs ILO/IPEC, and the
Embassy. Embassy officials can call at any time and receive
the latest updates from these GOP ministries.
Â¶25. (SBU) ILO/IPEC uses statistics from the PTJ to
supplement their own reporting. The March 2004
anti-trafficking law requires authorities to keep statistics
on sexual TIP and send those statistics to the National
Commission for Criminal Statistics (CONADEC) to serve as a
baseline for authorities in their prevention and protection
efforts. Embassy expects that the new anti-TIP commission
(reftel G) will work to improve statistics at the ministerial
level for transmission to CONADEC. The anti-TIP prevention
and protection proposals from the Office of the Attorney
General and MINJUMFA (reftel C) include programs for
increasing monitoring capabilities.
IS PROSTITUTION LEGALIZED OR DECRIMINALIZED? IF PROSTITUTION
IS LEGAL AND REGULATED, WHAT IS THE LEGAL MINIMUM AGE FOR
Â¶26. (U) Prostitution is legalized and regulated. The
minimum age for prostitution is 18.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT ACKNOWLEDGE THAT TRAFFICKING IS A PROBLEM
IN THAT COUNTRY?
Â¶27. (SBU) GOP officials acknowledge there are TIP victims
in Panama but most do not believe there are more than 100
victims who are trafficked annually across borders. However,
GOP continues devote considerable time, efforts and resources
to combating TIP. GOP officials are well aware of the
internal trafficking problem of commercial sexual
exploitation of minors and the use of Panamanian minors in
WHICH GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE INVOLVED IN ANTI-TRAFFICKING
Â¶28. (SBU) PTJ (including the Sex Crimes Unit and its Sexual
Exploitation Section), PNP, Immigration, MINJUMFA, MFA,
Ministry of Labor, MOGJ, Ministry of Health, Ministry of
Education, Social Security (CSS), Office of the First Lady,
Ministry of Commerce, SAN, SMN, Family and Child Courts,
District Attorneys, the Office of Tourism (IPAT), the
Ombudsman (Defensoria) and the National Assembly.
ARE THERE OR HAVE THERE BEEN GOVERNMENT-RUN ANTI-TRAFFICKING
INFORMATION OR EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS? IF SO, BRIEFLY DESCRIBE
THE CAMPAIGN(S), INCLUDING THEIR OBJECTIVE
AND EFFECTIVENESS. DO THESE CAMPAIGNS TARGET POTENTIAL
TRAFFICKING VICTIMS AND/OR THE DEMAND FOR TRAFFICKING (E.G.
"CLIENTS" OF PROSTITUTES OR BENEFICIARIES OF FORCED LABOR).
Â¶29. (SBU) In November 2004, MINJUMFA and the Office of the
First Lady initiated a formal campaign against the sexual
commercial exploitation of minors and sexual tourism.
(reftel F). The campaign targeted the demand for
trafficking, using the slogans "IF YOU ARE A MAN, WE'RE
DEPENDING ON YOU" and "PANAMA: A COUNTRY THAT REJECTS SEX
TOURISM." The campaign also sought to create awareness of
TIP among the general public. The program included a launch
event at the international airport with the First Lady, the
MINJUMFA Minister, the MOGJ, tourist agencies, and IPAT; the
distribution of thousands of postcards with anti-TIP messages
to tourists in transit at the principal airports, ports,
travel agencies, and hotels in Panama; the distribution of
flyers throughout the country in internet cafes, bars,
pharmacies, restaurants, and health centers; and three
celebrity radio spots calling on men to stop sexual
exploitation of minors. The campaigned increased awareness
of the issue, but MINJUMFA found tourist sector businesses
resistant to informing their patrons of the problem of sex
tourism. MINJUMFA submitted an anti-TIP prevention proposal
to extend its campaign and work more intensively with tourist
sector businesses. (reftel C)
Â¶30. (SBU) In November 2004, MINJUMFA initiated an anti-TIP
awareness workshop in the Darien region (reftel F) aimed at
50 Darien judges, "corregidores," prosecutors, mayors,
police, educators, health professionals, and NGOs. The
workshop resulted in a Darien action plan, receipt of
additional complaints, and an agreement between MINJUMFA and
the PNP to train PNP personnel in attention to cases of
commercial sexual exploitation of minors.
Â¶31. (SBU) In November 2004, MINJUMFA conducted a National
Forum on Integral Assistance to Child Victims of Sexual
Violence that identified advances, challenges, and strategies
in providing victims' assistance. The forum included 150
participants, including judges, "corregidores," prosecutors,
mayors, health, education and labor officials, and NGOs. At
the forum, MINJUMFA distributed 300 copies of the new
anti-TIP law and anti-TIP publicity materials, a thousand
press packets, and other publicity.
Â¶32. (SBU) Throughout 2004 the PTJ Sex Crimes Unit and its
Sexual Exploitation Section conducted informal education
sessions at schools and universities specifically discussing
trafficking and related crimes. The PTJ also publicized the
March 2004 anti-TIP law and the creation of the Sexual
Exploitation Section (reftel H). The PTJ worked with the ILO
to design anti-TIP information for its victim center.
Â¶33. (SBU) To address the issue of child domestic labor, an
ILO/IPEC pilot project created a provincial sub-committee
composed of local government and civil society to raise
awareness and address child domestic labor. The program
included radio spots about child domestic labor. The pilot
program succeeded in removing approximately 130 girls from
child domestic labor in less than a year and the First Lady
hopes to extend the program throughout the country. The
regional sub-committe took innovate steps, such as arranging
for a local bus transportation company to verify that girls
traveling to Panama City had work permits (reftel B).
Â¶34. (U) The Sex Crimes Prosecutors in the Attorney
General's Office promoted the new anti-TIP law throughout the
year on TV and radio programs and during anti-TIP launch
events. The Attorney General's Office conducted a public
awareness campaign in January and February 2005 in the weeks
prior to the carnival holidays to make citizens and the media
aware of the new anti-TIP law. The campaign aimed to prevent
the commercial sexual exploitation of minors and child
pornography at Carnival festivities, particularly
photographing undressed minors. The Attorney General's
office included anti-TIP information (such as Carnival
awareness information and the Attorney General's remarks at
anti-TIP events) on it's excellent website.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT OTHER PROGRAMS TO PREVENT
TRAFFICKING? (E.G. TO PROMOTE WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN
ECONOMIC DECISION-MAKING OR EFFORTS TO KEEP CHILDREN IN
SCHOOL). PLEASE EXPLAIN.
Â¶35. GOP sponsors a number of programs through MINJUMFA, and
the Ministries of Health, Labor, and Education (reftel B).
These programs range from increasing access to education for
child workers; anti-drug, HIV and Safe Sex awareness; income
generating projects for families; and combating violence
against women. NGOs and other international organizations
sponsor similar campaigns.
IS THE GOVERNMENT ABLE TO SUPPORT A PREVENTION PROGRAM?
Â¶36. The GOP has been able to support a limited campaign due
to lack of funding. The Attorney General's Office and
MINJUMFA have submitted anti-TIP prevention proposals (reftel
C). CONAPREDES, the new anti-TIP commission, is charged with
creating a fund from a special tax to support prevention
efforts, which Embassy estimates will be fully functional by
the end of 2005 (reftel C).
WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS, NGOS,
OTHER RELEVANT ORGANIZATIONS AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF CIVIL
SOCIETY ON TRAFFICKING ISSUE?
Â¶37. (SBU) The GOP (particularly MINJUMFA, prosecutors, and
investigators) relation with the ILO/IPEC is good. The
Immigration Directorate has been extremely active with the
International Organization for Migration (OIM) in 2004-2005,
presiding over the IOM until November 2004 and receiving two
anti-TIP training seminars. The Ombudsman's Office has a
special network which helped design and pass the March 2004
anti-TIP law. This network includes civil society and
representatives from the executive, legislative, and judicial
branches. With the installation of the anti-TIP commission
in February 2005, the GOP further institutionalized this
relationship at a policy and technical level because the
commission includes government and civil society members
(reftel I). USG-GOP relations continue to be outstanding.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT ADEQUATELY MONITOR ITS BORDERS? DOES IT
MONITOR IMMIGRATION AND EMIGRATION PATTERNS FOR EVIDENCE OF
TRAFFICKING? DO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES RESPOND
APPROPRIATELY TO SUCH EVIDENCE?
Â¶38. (SBU) The Immigration Directorate continued to increase
its efforts to stem the flow of illegal migrants to and
through Panama. While illegal foreign sex workers have not
identified themselves as TIP victims, Immigration does track
the number of sex workers they deport. DHS/ICE works closely
with Panamanian Immigration on detection and investigation of
alien smuggling and TIP. The SAN and SMN also conduct
interdictions based on intelligence received. The
overwhelming majority of those persons arrested are being
voluntarily smuggled and not trafficked.
IS THERE A MECHANISM FOR COORDINATION AND COMMUNICATION
BETWEEN VARIOUS AGENCIES, SUCH AS MULTI-AGENCY WORKING GROUP
OR TASK FORCE? DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE A TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS TASK FORCE?
Â¶39. (SBU) There are several mechanisms for communication
among various agencies and between the GOP and civil society.
The March 2004 anti-TIP law created an anti-TIP commission
(CONAPREDES). The Attorney General convoked CONAPREDES in
February 2005 (reftel G), institutionalizing TIP policy and
technical coordination regarding TIP for most relevant GOP
ministries and agencies. Although the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA) is not a CONAPREDES member, the Attorney
General's Office coordinates with the MFA. For example, at
the MFA's request, the Attorney General's office invited MFA
representatives to the DOJ-sponsored TIP training for
CONAPREDES on March 7-9. Training participants created a
draft operations manual as a point of departure for
Â¶40. (SBU) In March 2004 under the Moscoso Administration,
the MOGJ created an ad-hoc Inter-Institutional Commission to
Fight Trafficking in Persons (reftel B). As a result of an
inquiry from the IOM at its February 2005 training seminar
for MOGJ's Immigration Directorate, the Torrijos
Administration's MOGJ is studying whether the ad-hoc
Inter-Institutional Commission fulfilled its mandate or
should be reconvened. The Ombudsman's Office also has a
special network that includes civil society and executive,
legislative, and judicial branch officials (para 37). The
GOP Ministries also work together on prevention, protection,
and prosecution on an ad-hoc basis.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE A PUBLIC CORRUPTION TASK FORCE?
Â¶41. (U) In October, the GOP created the National Council
for Transparency, headed by an Anti-Corruption Secretary with
the rank of Vice-Minister (reftel F, J). The Attorney
General's Office has an anti-corruption prosecutor. The
Ministry of Economics and Finance has an office that conducts
special audits at the Minister's request.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT COORDINATE OR PARTICIPATE IN
MULTINATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL WORKING GROUPS OR EFFORTS TO
PREVENT, MONITOR, OR CONTROL TRAFFICKING?
Â¶42. (U) GOP was very active with the IOM on alien smuggling
and anti-TIP programs in 2004-2005 (para 37). In December
2004, Panama hosted the International Law Enforcement Academy
Key Leaders Conference in which regional law enforcement
heads discussed TIP extensively. Panama also worked
multilaterally on TIP at the Security Commission of Central
American Integration and the Meeting of the Joint Task Forces
in El Salvador. GOP coordinates border control with
neighboring countries through Immigration and PNP. The GOP
has bilateral exchange information agreements with Ecuador,
Colombia, and Mexico. The MOGJ's Office of Mutual Legal
Assistance handled international requests for judicial
assistance in TIP cases. GOP and the Government of Colombia
(GOC) have a border security working group for Darien
Province. In March 2004, PNP Secretary General Luis Benitez
Aponte presented a paper on TIP at the Ordinary Meeting of
the Commission of Heads of Police of Central America and the
Caribbean. PTJ and PNP receive intelligence from Interpol on
TIP cases. (NOTE: Embassy believes GOP would support and
participate actively in any additional bi-lateral and/or
regional working groups.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE A NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION TO ADDRESS
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS? IF SO, WHICH AGENCIES WERE INVOLVED
IN DEVELOPING IT? WERE NGOS CONSULTED IN THE PROCESS? WHAT
STEPS HAS THE GOVERNMENT TAKEN TO DISSEMINATE THE ACTION
Â¶43. (SBU) The GOP's national action plan to address
trafficking in persons was institutionalized in March 2004
with the new anti-TIP law, which contains prosecution,
prevention, and enforcement provisions. The Attorney
General's office introduced the bill which received input
from the Ombudsman's intergovernmental/civil society network
on this issue. The law called for the creation of a Sexual
Exploitation Section within the PTJ. The law also created
CONAPREDES, which includes civil society members (para 12,
16, 36, 39, 44) The PTJ, the Attorney General's office, and
MINJUMFA, have conducted prevention activities to distribute
the new law (reftels B, C, H; para 29-34). The GOP conducted
a training seminar in Panama City and Veraguas Province to
train the PTJ in the new law (reftel B).
IS THERE SOME ENTITY OR PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR DEVELOPING
ANTI-TRAFFICKING PROGRAMS WITH THE GOVERNMENT?
Â¶44. (SBU) CONAPREDES is responsible for studying the
prevention and eradication of crimes of sexual exploitation,
creating a special anti-TIP fund from a designated tax
source, and using the special anti-TIP fund to finance
training, prevention, and victims' assistance programs
(reftel G, para 12, 16, 36, 39, 43). GOP agencies involved
in TIP prosecution, prevention, and protection coordinate
proposal development through offices with a specialty in
commercial sexual exploitation or women and children's
issues, i.e., Attorney General's Office (Sex Crimes
Coordinator); MOGJ (Immigration, Office of Gender), MINJUMFA
(Women's Directorate, Children's Directorate), PTJ (Sexual
Exploitation Section), Social Security CSS) (Office of
DOES THE COUNTRY HAVE A LAW SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITING
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS-BOTH FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND
TRAFFICKING FOR NON-SEXUAL PURPOSES (E.G. FORCED LABOR)? IF
SO, WHAT IS THAT LAW?
Â¶45. (U) The March 2004 anti-TIP law modified the Penal Code
by adding an additional chapter (Book II, Title VI, Chapter
IV, Sections 231-231(I)) that created the specific crimes of
sexual trafficking, sexual tourism, and pornography with
minors. The March 2004 anti-TIP law also toughened Penal
Code provisions for corruption of minors, commercial sexual
exploitation (of adults and minors), and pimping (Book II,
Title VI, Chapter III, Sections 226-230).
Â¶46. (U) Sections 310 and 310-A of Penal Code Book II, Title
IX, Chapter III also make it a punishable crime to be a part
of an international drug or "people trafficking" ring or to
smuggle people with their consent in contravention of
immigration laws. Section 310 also provides for penalties
for violations of human rights under international
conventions signed by Panama, but the Supreme Court has
declared this provision unconstitutional. In practice,
Section 310 and 310-A are applied in cases of international
human smuggling. Article 215D of the penal code penalizes
the use or inducement of minors for pornography or immoral,
prohibited, dangerous or unhealthy work. Penal Code Book II,
Title II, Chapter III Sections 151 and 152 penalizes the
deprivation of liberty of others.
ARE THESE LAWS, TAKEN TOGETHER, ADEQUATE TO COVER THE FULL
SCOPE OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS?
Â¶47. (SBU) These laws cover the full scope of TIP, but the
GOP continues to work to improve the laws. For example,
there continues to be some confusion concerning the
applicability of the sexual trafficking provision to adults
because of the wording of the chapter title (not the text) of
the law. The Attorney General's Office and MOGJ are working
to reform the title to make clear that the sexual trafficking
provision includes adult victims. The Attorney General's
Office, as part of it's anti-TIP prevention and protection
proposal is working on a bill to modify Penal Code Sections
310 and 310-A to specifically mention forced labor and debt
bondage (reftel C).
Â¶48. (SBU) The anti-TIP law improved investigation and
prosecution capabilities in all TIP cases under Book II,
Title VI of the Penal Code by eliminating the need for a
formal victim's complaint to initiate investigations. (Other
penal code provisions never required a formal complaint).
The anti-TIP law also included harsher penalties for TIP
Â¶49. (SBU) The Immigration Directorate suspended use of the
"alternadora" visa in March 2004 but reinitiated it in
January 2005, citing public health concerns and the need to
regulate Colombian entertainment workers. In February the
Immigration Directorate told PolOff that it had instituted
new procedures to protect the human rights of visa
applicants. MOGJ told PolOff that it is working on an
immigration reform bill that would eliminate the conflict
between the issuance of alternadora visas and the March 2004
anti-TIP law. MOGJ informed Embassy in writing in January
that the anti-TIP law had tacitly derogated the immigration
provisions that permitted the owners of dance clubs and
nightclubs to bring "alternadoras" to Panama. The
Immigration Directorate has consulted with IOM for
suggestions on how any provisions in the expected immigration
reform bill for "artists" or "alternadoras" (the National
Assembly reconvened March 1) should be written to comply with
the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking
in Persons, which Panama ratified in July 2004.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR TRAFFICKERS OF PEOPLE FOR SEXUAL
EXPLOITATION? FOR TRAFFICKERS OF PEOPLE FOR LABOR
Â¶50. (U) Section 228 penalizes sexual exploitation with 4-6
years of prison and 8-10 years of prison when the victim is a
minor. Section 231 penalizes sexual trafficking with 5-8
years of prison and 8-10 years when the victim is a minor.
Section 310 sets the penalty at 10-15 years of prison and
Section 310-A sets it at 5-10 years. Section 151-152 provide
for 6 months to 6 years imprisonment. Section 215D provides
for 2-6 years imprisonment. (Note: Immigration Director Lima
has proposed increasing the penalties for sexual trafficking
to at least 10-15 years on the theory that trafficking in
people should be penalized more severely than human smuggling
because it is a violation of human rights).
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR RAPE OR FORCIBLE SEXUAL ASSAULT?
HOW DO THEY COMPARE TO THE PENALTY FOR SEX TRAFFICKING?
Â¶51. (U) Under Penal Code Book II, Title VI, Chapter I
Sections 216-218 rape is punishable by 3 to 10 years in
prison, depending on the circumstances. Under Section 219,
statutory rape with a minor age 14-18 is punishable by 1-6
years of prison.
HAS THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTED ANY CASES AGAINST TRAFFICKERS?
IF SO, PROVIDE NUMBER OF ARRESTS, INDICTMENTS CONVICTIONS,
SENTENCES, INCLUDING DETAILS ON PLEA BARGAINS AND FINES, IF
RELEVANT AND AVAILABLE.
Â¶52. (SBU) In 2004 the PTJ investigated 24 cases under the
March 2004 anti-TIP law, including nine cases of pornography
with minors, five cases of paid sex with minors, six cases of
sexual trafficking, one case of internet pornography, and two
cases of pimping. As permitted under the March 2004 anti-TIP
law, the PTJ initiated 13 of these cases without a complaint.
In 2004, the number of formal PTJ TIP investigations was
four times that in 2003. By the end of January, seven of
these cases had been transferred to the Attorney General's
Office for prosecution. From January through March 1, the
PTJ began investigations in three more cases under the new
law, including two cases of pornography with minors.
Â¶53. (SBU) According to the Office of the Attorney General,
the Darien Prosecutor opened the most provincial cases under
the March 2004 anti-TIP law. From April 2004 to January
2005, the Darien Prosecutor opened 82 sex crime cases,
including numerous cases under the March 2004 anti-TIP law.
The Darien Prosecutor finished investigations in at least 48
of the cases, which continued to the trial stage.
Information on convictions is not yet available because the
anti-TIP law is new and judicial branch statistics generally
have a one year lag.
Â¶54. (SBU) The Immigration Directorate under the Torrijos
Administration fined at least two brothels for employing
undocumented foreign sex workers. According to Immigration
statistics, from January through November the GOP initiated
proceedings against approximately 367 foreign sex workers
(classified as non-bona fide tourists), the majority of whom
asked for and were granted voluntary departure.
ARE THE TRAFFICKERS SERVING TIME SENTENCED? IF NO, WHY NOT?
PLEASE INDICATE WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT CAN PROVIDE THIS
INFORMATION, AND IF NOT, WHY NOT?
Â¶55. (SBU) The GOP is willing provides information.
However, the March 2004 anti-TIP law is still so new that
most TIP cases have not made it through the judicial system
and judicial statistics are only current through 2003 (para
IS THERE ANY INFORMATION OR REPORTS OF WHO IS BEHIND THE
TRAFFICKING? ARE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS INVOLVED? ARE THERE
ANY REPORTS OF WHERE PROFITS FROM TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ARE
BEING CHANNELED? (E.G. ARMED GROUPS, TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS,
JUDGES, BANKS, ETC).
Â¶56. (SBU) Independent dance club and/or massage parlor
owners and, on occasion, persons with connections to illegal
drug trade are behind trafficking. GOP investigators report
that the profile for traffickers for child commercial sexual
exploitation in Panama City involves taxi drivers who look
for customers. The PTJ's 2004 TIP cases include 11
Panamanians, 1 Jamaican, 5 North Americans, 2 Asians, 2
Colombians, and 2 Puerto Ricans. The Darien prosecutor
suspects at least one indigenous leader is involved in
prostituting indigenous girls. Most profits appear to go
directly to traffickers. The Darien Prosecutor also links
perpetrators of commercial sexual exploitation to drug
DOES THE GOVERNMENT ACTIVELY INVESTIGATE CASES OF
TRAFFICKING? DOES THE GOVERNMENT USE ACTIVE INVESTIGATIVE
TECHNIQUES IN TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS INVESTIGATIONS?
Â¶57. (SBU) The GOP investigates very actively, especially now
that a formal complaint is no longer required for sexual TIP
cases. However, resources limit the ability of the PTJ and
prosecutors to investigate. For example, investigators lack
computers, vehicles to perform undercover operations, and
TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE UNDER DOMESTIC LAW, ARE TECHNIQUES
SUCH AS ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE,
UNDERCOVER OPERATIONS, AND MITIGATED PUNISHMENT OR IMMUNITY
FOR COOPERATING SUSPECTS USED BY THE GOVERNMENT? DOES THE
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE OR LAWS PROHIBIT THE POLICE FORM
ENGAGING IN COVERT OPERATIONS?
Â¶58. (SBU) The March 2004 anti-TIP law specifically
authorized the Attorney General's Office to use undercover
operations in its investigations. The GOP uses undercover
operations to the extent possible with its limited resources
(lack of vehicles, lack of computers). The March 2004
anti-TIP law also provided for wire taps and monitoring of
email and internet use in appropriate cases (reftel B, F).
The November 2004 Constitutional reforms also legalized
wiretapping under certain circumstances (reftel F).
DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE ANY SPECIALIZED TRAINING FOR
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN HOW TO RECOGNIZE, INVESTIGATE, AND
PROSECUTE INSTANCES OF TRAFFICKING?
Â¶59. (SBU) GOP provides internal training. In July, the GOP
trained the PTJ in the new anti-TIP law in two seminars in
Santiago and Veraguas province (reftel B). In July, the GOP
took advantage of a visit from a DOJ prosecutor and victim
specialist to provide a training seminar. MINJUMFA conducted
a training on the anti-TIP law in the Darien province (reftel
Â¶60. (SBU) The ILO/IPEC provides the GOP with training in
child commercial sexual exploitation. The GOP trained
personnel in TIP through IOM seminars (para 37, 42). GOP
personnel also participated in the ILEA key leaders
conference. The Embassy of Spain trained investigators in
computer investigative techniques. International Tourism
Organization also trained GOP officials. In March 2005, GOP
officials participated in DOJ sponsored TIP training.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT COOPERATE WITH OTHER GOVERNMENTS IN THE
INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKING CASES? IF
POSSIBLE, CAN POST PROVIDE THE NUMBER OF COOPERATIVE
INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIONS ON TRAFFICKING?
Â¶61. (SBU) The GOP cooperates with other countries in the
prosecution of trafficking cases. In 2004, the PTJ received
three leads from Interpol and six leads directly from other
countries (reftel F), including the USG. In 2005, the PTJ
began cooperating with European countries to identify
possible child pornography victims in a large pornography
case in Cocle province (about an a hour and a half to the
west of Panama City). Immigration and MFA are very active
with IOM programs to combat alien smuggling and TIP.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT EXTRADITE PERSONS WHO ARE CHARGED WITH
TRAFFICKING IN OTHER COUNTRIES? DOES THE GOVERNMENT EXTRADITE
ITS OWN NATIONALS CHARGED WITH SUCH OFFENSES? IF NOT, IS THE
GOVERNMENT PROHIBITED BY LAW FROM EXTRADITING ITS OWN
Â¶62. (U) The March 2004 anti-TIP law specifically provides
for extradition in cases of sexual trafficking. However, the
constitution prohibits extradition of Panamanians.
IS THERE EVIDENCE OF GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN OR TOLERANCE
OF TRAFFICKING, ON A LOCAL OR INSTITUTION LEVEL?
Â¶63. (U) Embassy will send septel (para 2).
IF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE INVOLVED IN TRAFFICKING, WHAT
STEPS HAS THE GOVERNMENT TAKEN TO END SUCH PARTICIPATION?
HAVE ANY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS BEEN PROSECUTED FOR INVOLVEMENT
TRAFFICKING OR TRAFFICKING RELATED CORRUPTION?
Â¶64. (U) Embassy will send septel para 2).
IF THE COUNTRY HAS IDENTIFIED CHILD SEX TOURISM AS A PROBLEM
(AS SOURCE OR DESTINATION), HOW MANY FOREIGN PEDOPHILES HAS
THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTED OR DEPORTED/EXTRADITED TO THEIR
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN? DOES THE COUNTRY'S CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
LAWS HAVE EXTRATERRITORIAL COVERAGE (LIKE THE U.S. PROTECT
Â¶65. (U) The March 2004 anti-TIP law creates the crime of
sex tourism of minors (Penal Code Book II, Title VI, Chapter
IV, Section 231-G). However, the PTJ has reported no
investigations of this crime thus far. However, the PTJ
Sexual Exploitation Section has had a heavy workload with a
few large cases of international child pornography. In
addition, the March 2004 anti-TIP law requires lodging
establishments to include a warning regarding TIP in their
Â¶66. (U) The anti-TIP law provides for extraterritorial
coverage of sex crimes (all crimes in Book II, Title VI of
the Penal code Sections 216-231-I) when there crime has an
effect in Panamanian territory or an element of the crime
happened in Panamanian territory. Penal Code Section 9
provides for extraterritorial coverage of other crimes,
including domestic violence.
HAS THE GOVERNMENT SIGNED, RATIFIED, AND/OR TAKEN STEPS TO
IMPLEMENT THE FOLLOWING INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS? PLEASE
PROVIDE THE DATE OF SIGNATURE/RATIFICATION IF APPROPRIATE?
Â¶67. (U) The GOP has signed and ratified all pertinent
ILO CONVENTION 182: Ratified on June 15, 2000. Deposited in
Geneva on October 31, 2000
ILO CONVENTION 29: Ratified in 1930
ILO CONVENTION 105: Ratified in 1957
THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE
CHILD (CRC): Singed on October 31, 2000 and ratified on
February 9, 2001
THE PROTOCOL TO PREVENT, SUPPRESS AND PUNISH TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS, ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN, SUPPLEMENTING THE UN
CONVENTION AGAINST TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME: Signed on
December 13, 2000 and ratified July 7, 2004 (Law 23).
DOES THE GOVERNMENT ASSIST VICTIMS, FOR EXAMPLE, BY PROVIDING
TEMPORARY TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY STATUS, RELIEF FROM
DEPORTATION, SHELTER AND ACCESS TO LEGAL, MEDICAL, AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES? IF SO, PLEASE EXPLAIN. DOES THE
COUNTRY HAVE VICTIM CARE AND VICTIM HEALTH CARE FACILITIES?
IF SO, CAN POST PROVIDE THE NUMBER OF VICTIMS PLACED IN THESE
Â¶68. (SBU) Access to legal, medical, and psychological
services are available, but limited due to funding.
CONAPREDES (reftel G) has the power to collect a special tax
to support victims' assistance. MINJUMFA has a shelter and
works with the NGO Casa Malambo to provide additional shelter
space and assistance services. MINJUMFA has made a proposal
for bilateral assistance to improve its services, including
additional shelter space (reftel C). MINJUMFA also places
TIP victims with foster families or relatives. MINJUMFA
currently has approximately two victims of child commercial
sexual exploitation at its shelter facilities. Other victims
are with relatives or foster families. MINJUMFA is working
on a general victims' hotline which it expects will be
operational by June (reftel C).
Â¶69. (SBU) The MOGJ's Immigration Directorate asks detainees
for illegal prostitution if they are TIP victims, but
detainees have not claimed to be forced into prostitution.
At the IOM/GOP Training on February 17-18, 2005, MOGJ
announced that it was creating a TIP victims' assistance
center where TIP victims could come forward to claim TIP
status on their own initiative (para 18).
Â¶70. (SBU) PTJ has a crime victims, assistance center at
PTJ headquarters in Panama City. This center is not
specifically for TIP victims but service coordination is
available at the center. The PTJ Sex Crimes Unit rearranged
its office to provide a more pleasant waiting area for TIP
Â¶71. (SBU) Immigration coordinates referrals to hospitals
and NGOs for detainees who may be victims of abuse and TIP.
The PTJ center coordinates victim referrals to these
services. However, space at the legal medicine center in
Panama City is cramped and victims share the waiting room
with criminals sent for medical tests. Some hospitals and
clinics have medical staff trained to treat rape and other
sexual assault victims. TIP-specific training would be
Â¶72. (SBU) HIV/AIDS screening is offered but on a broader
basis both to rape and sexual assault victims and to sex
workers. HIV/AIDS screenings are required and provided by
the Ministry of Health for registered sex workers.
Â¶73. (SBU) Immigration, the PNP, and the PTJ Sex Crimes Unit
all maintain hotlines where TIP victims can report a crime
and begin to seek services.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE FUNDING OR OTHER FORMS OF SUPPORT
TO FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC NGOS FOR SERVICES FOR VICTIMS? PLEASE
Â¶74. (SBU) MINJUMFA sees its role as providing funding,
direction, and support to foreign and domestic NGOs with
projects in Panama. MINJUMFA provides approximately $3
million annually to various NGOs that support women, youth,
children, and the family. MINJUMFA provides approximately
$130,000 annually to the NGO Casa Malambo, which includes a
shelter used by TIP victims (reftel C). The NGO Casa
Esperanza, which plays a key role in addressing child labor
issues in the country, receives approximately 3% of its
funding from MINJUMFA (reftel B). Casa Esperanza operates
"day shelters," which provide services to children and their
families during the day, helping to prevent a street child
problem. The GOP also supports the shelter Support Center
for Abused Women (CAMM), but this shelter only serves victims
of domestic violence.
Â¶75. (U) CONAPREDES is charged with creating a special fund
for education, prevention, and victims' assistance from a
designated tax source (reftel G).
IS THERE A SCREENING AND REFERRAL PROCESS IN PLACE, WHEN
APPROPRIATE, TO TRANSFER VICTIMS DETAINED, ARRESTED OR PLACED
IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES TO NGO'S
THAT PROVIDE SHORT OR LONG TERM CARE?
Â¶76. (U) The PTJ victim enter coordinates victims' assistance
in cases in which a victim brings a complaint in Panama
province or is part of an investigation conducted by the PTJ.
Prosecutors investigating cases in other provinces
coordinate for victims assistance with MINJUMFA. MINJUMFA
provides or coordinates the provision of shelter, legal,
social worker, psychological and other support. Those NGOs
that work with victims (adult and minors) of sexual abuse and
assault are well known and law enforcement authorities can
make referrals on ad-hoc basis.
ARE THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS RESPECTED OR ARE VICTIMS TREATED AS
CRIMINALS? ARE VICTIMS DETAINED, JAILED OR DEPORTED? IF
DETAINED OR JAILED, FOR HOW LONG? ARE VICTIMS FINED? ARE
VICTIMS PROSECUTED FOR VIOLATIONS OF OTHER LAWS, SUCH AS
THOSE GOVERNING IMMIGRATION OR PROSTITUTION?
Â¶77. (U) Victims are not treated as criminals; their rights
are respected. The March 2004 anti-TIP law provides that TIP
victims will not be responsible for immigration,
prostitution, or other deeds that are the direct result of
trafficking. Victims who identify themselves are not jailed.
If a victim commits a non-related crime or is awaiting
deportation, then the jail time will vary depending on the
circumstances. A small portion of sex workers who were
detained for immigration violations may have been TIP
victims, although none claimed to be. In February 2005 MOGJ
announced that it was creating a TIP victims' center, which
could help identify and assist TIP victims (para 18, 16).
DOES THE GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGE VICTIMS TO ASSIST IN THE
INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS? MAY VICTIMS
FILE CIVIL SUITS OR SEEK LEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST THE
TRAFFICKERS? DOES ANYONE IMPEDE THE VICTIMS' ACCESS TO SUCH
LEGAL REDRESS? IF VICTIMS ARE MATERIAL WITNESSES IN A COURT
CASE AGAINST THE FORMER EMPLOYER, IS THE VICTIM PERMITTED TO
OBTAIN OTHER EMPLOYMENT OR LEAVE THE COUNTRY? IS THERE A
VICTIM RESTITUTION PROGRAM?
Â¶78. (SBU) Victim participation is crucial. While under the
March 2004 anti-TIP law the PTJ and prosecutors no longer
need a formal complaint to initiate an investigation, a
victim may still file a "querella," which gives the victim
the right to investigate and present proof in the case
(reftel C). MINJUMFA is working to provide victims with
greater legal assistance to take advantage of the querella
process (reftel C). Nonetheless, civil court cases can be a
lengthy and expensive process.
Â¶79. (SBU) Under the March 2004 anti-TIP law, courts should
order repayment to victims for the costs of medical and
psychological treatment, the costs of physical
rehabilitation, costs of transportation, housing, child care,
lost income, attorneys fees, and emotional distress. Victims
who leave the jurisdiction do not lose the right to this
Â¶80. (SBU) Victims are permitted to leave Panama. If they
have legal status to work, they can seek other employment.
WHAT KIND OF PROTECTION IS THE GOVERNMENT ABLE TO PROVIDE FOR
VICTIMS AND WITNESSES? DOES IT PROVIDE THESE PROTECTIONS IN
PRACTICE? HOW MANY SHELTERS DOES THE GOVERNMENT RUN OR FUND
(IN FULL OR IN PART)? HOW MUCH FUNDING DOES THE GOVERNMENT
PROVIDE FOR SHELTERS.
Â¶81. (SBU) The March 2004 anti-TIP law specifically provides
for protection of TIP victims of sexual trafficking. The
Ombudsman's Office and MINJUMFA must provide legal assistance
to anyone, including NGOs, who make a complaint in these
cases. The anti-TIP law also requires prosecutors and courts
to identify victims in TIP criminal cases in order to provide
victims with services and protect the victim from
traffickers. Victim identification can be difficult in large
pornography cases, where there may be many unknown minors.
The law specifically requires officials to provide special
protection to victims and their families from threats,
reprisals, or intimidation. The Attorney General's Office is
also required to adopt measures so that the victim can
consult regarding the protection plan.
Â¶82. (SBU) The GOP does provide these protections in
practice. MINJUMFA uses two main shelters, including the
shelter at the NGO Casa Malambo (reftel C). MINJUMFA
provides $130,000 annually to Casa Malambo. MINJUMFA also
places victims with families. However, protection of victims
is challenging because Panama is a small country
(approximately 3.1 million) with few shelters. Suspects have
called at shelters where victims were staying.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE ANY SPECIALIZED TRAINING FOR
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN RECOGNIZING TRAFFICKING AND IN
PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE TO TRAFFICKING VICTIMS, INCLUDING THE
SPECIAL NEEDS OF TRAFFICKED CHILDREN? DOES THE GOVERNMENT
PROVIDE TRAINING ON PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO ITS
EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES THAT ARE
DESTINATION OR TRANSIT COUNTRIES? DOES GOVERNMENT URGE THOSE
EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES TO DEVELOP ONGOING RELATIONSHIPS
WITH NGOS THAT SERVE TRAFFICKED VICTIMS?
Â¶83. (SBU) The some of the training GOP has provided (para
29-31, 33 42, 59-60) has included recognizing trafficking
victims and the needs of trafficked children.
Â¶84. (SBU) MINJUMFA has proposed training foster families in
special assistance to TIP victims (reftel C). The PTJ
participates in regional training programs and a prosecutor
specializing in sex crimes went to Costa Rica to observe
anti-TIP practices. The GOP receives training from ILO/IPEC
in commercial sexual exploitation and child labor.
Â¶85. (SBU) DHS/ICE officials provide ad hoc training to
Customs and Labor inspectors on forced child labor, including
commercial sexual exploitation and child pornography.
DHS/ICE officials at Panama international airport provide
informal training to Immigration officials on identification
of potential TIP victims entering country.
Â¶86. (SBU) Panama is not primarily a country of origin for
TIP victims trafficked across borders.
DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE ASSISTANCE, SUCH AS MEDICAL AID,
SHELTER, OR FINANCIAL HELP, TO ITS REPATRIATED NATIONALS WHO
ARE VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING?
Â¶87. (SBU) Panama is not primarily a country of origin for
TIP victims. The media publicized an account of a woman who
was recruited to work in Europe as a prostitute but the woman
never left Panama.
WHICH INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS OR NGOS, IF ANY, WORK WITH
TRAFFICKED VICTIMS? WHAT TYPE OF SERVICES DO THEY PROVIDE?
WHAT SORT OF COOPERATION DO THEY RECEIVE FROM LOCAL
Â¶88. (SBU) Trafficking victims work with several
organizations. ILO/IPEC works in the area of commercial
sexual exploitation of minors and child labor. Nueva Era en
Salud works with sex workers. Casa Malambo provides shelter
services for TIP victims. FUNDAMUJER provides legal
assistance to TIP victims. The following NGOs do not have
specific programs for TIP victims but sponsor victim
assistance programs: Casa Esperanza
(education/housing/nutrition for minors), Hogar Luisa McGrath
(victims of incest/rape), and Mujeres Coloneses en Camino
(women's assistance programs). There are a number of other
NGOs with similar programs. The NGOs provide education,
nutrition, health, shelter, legal, counseling, and
TIP HERO NOMINATIONS
Â¶89. (SBU) Embassy nominates the Prosecutors Maruquel
Castroverde and Arnesia Janeth Torrero as TIP heroes. Both
prosecutors have shown exceptional commitment to fighting
TIP. Prosecutor Castroverde helped draft, introduce, and
promote the landmark March 2004 anti-TIP law. Prosecutor
Castroverde also serves as the coordinator for sex crime
cases within the Public Ministry (Attorney General's Office).
Castroverde continues to advocate for more resources to
improve TIP prosecution, prevention, and victim protection
(reftel C, H). Prosecutor Torrero was an assistant
prosecutor in 2003 when she participated in an IV TIP
program. In 2004, as sole prosecutor for the historically
neglected Darien province, Torrero had many responsibilities
and few resources. Armed with the March 2004 anti-TIP law
that Castroverde had helped pass, Torrero opened numerous
cases of sexual exploitation of children and worked with
MINJUMFA to find services for victims. Torrero's actions
drew Attorney General Gomez's and MINJUMFA Minister
Calderon's attention and resources to the TIP issue in Darien
province (reftel C) at significant personal danger to
herself. Castroverde and Torrero are being vetted through
the CLASS and other pertinent systems.
Â¶90. (U) Embassy point of contact for TIP issues is
Political Officer Debra Steigerwalt (507) 207-7183, (F)
507-207-7418, FS04. Time spent preparing this report: 48
hours. Members of the Embassy TIP working group spent 5
hours reviewing this report.
Â¶91. (SBU) Panama, like the vast majority of nations
(including the United States), suffers the ill effects of
TIP. While domestic issues such as familial sex abuse,
violence against women and children, and drug abuse are much
larger problems, the GOP fights TIP aggressively. As a
result, in March 2004 the GOP enacted a landmark anti-TIP law
and in July 2004 ratified the U.N. Protocol to Prevent,
Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons. The anti-TIP
law institutionalized the GOP's plan to combat TIP for
prosecution, prevention, and protection at a policy and
technical level. The new law has resulted in more frequent
and sucessful prosecutions, regional cooperation, TIP
awareness, and victims' services.
USG material support and expertise has enhanced GOP
anti-TIP activities. The GOP has submitted several TIP
prevention and protection proposals (reftel C), that if
funded, would further enhance ongoing anti-TIP activities.
Nonetheless, while the GOP has signaled that it will take
steps to prevent visa recipients from becoming TIP victims,
the GOP at present has no plans to eliminate the "alternadora