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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 6 May 2015 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Panama
The delegation was headed by Luis Ernesto Carles, Minister of Labour and Labour Market Development of Panama.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Panama page on UPR website.

Troika *

Ghana, Germany, Russian Federation.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on Panama page on UPR Extranet **)

  • The Government has taken significant steps towards realising its human rights commitments; including positive changes in the areas of freedom of expression, trade unions and the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • Since 2010 Panama has ratified several international instruments including the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, the 1961 Convention on the reduction of statelessness, the Convention for the Enforced Disappearance, the OPCAT, and ILO Convention 189 on domestic workers;
  • Panama also had recent visits from UN Special Procedures including the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and the Working Group on People of African Descent;
  • The Panamanian government has also adopted extensive legislation for the protection of land, culture and institutions of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, electoral districts were set up to facilitate the election of indigenous representatives to the National Assembly;
  • The Government was working on a comprehensive development plan with indigenous peoples, with the intention of improving their living conditions, strengthen their structures and traditional authorities and improve socio-economic indicators that affect them, such as health, education and infrastructure;
  • The Government has requested for technical assistance from the High Commissioner for Human Rights for training in the proper use of force by police personnel and civilian personnel with responsibility for the maintenance of public order;
  • The Government acknowledged that there were serious human rights violations committed during the events in July 2010 in Changuinola and consequently enacted Law 144 of 2015 to ensure remedial measures to victims who saw their health affected as a result of these events;
  • Panama adopted a law in 2013 criminalizing acts of femicide, established the Special Prosecutor for the investigation of such cases and also the National Committee Against Violence on Women; measures have also been adopted to provide appropriate care for victims of human trafficking;
  • The Government was currently carrying out a prison reform system and was adopting a series of measures to improve prison conditions and overcrowding; the Government was also continuing to provide access to prisons for human rights organisations;
  • The Government was implementing the Safe Neighbourhoods Programme aimed at reintegrating gang members into society by providing technical training, financial assistance and employment opportunities;
  • The Government recently raised the minimum legal age of marriage to 18 in compliance with the recommendations by the Committee on the Rights of the Child;
  • On the issue of child labour, between 2012 and 2014 the number of persons affected by hazardous work decreased by 50% (from 50,410 to 26,710).

Participants

In total 50 States participated in the dialogue:  22 HRC members and 28 observers  (Statements available on Panama page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment;
  • The amendment to the Criminal Code that criminalizes femicide;
  • The establishment of a national mechanism for the prevention of torture;
  • The National Human Rights Standing Commission tasked with ensuring compliance with and follow-up to human rights obligations;
  • The ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons;
  • The reforms aimed at the strengthening of the justice system.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • The high number of femicides and high level of violence against women;
  • The situation in detention facilities, especially overcrowding and the large number being held in pre-trial detention;
  • The rights of indigenous communities, Afro-descendants and of marginalized groups, such as, ethnic and sexual minorities;
  • Gender equality and the wage gap between men and women;
  • Trafficking in persons;
  •  Restrictions with regard to trade union activities.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Panama.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, prohibiting racism and discrimination on all grounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity;
  • To increase efforts to protect the rights of indigenous people and persons of African descent and to further ensure their integration and socio-economic participation;
  • To improve access to healthcare and education in rural areas;
  • To take steps to address prison overcrowding;
  • To apply without delay the amendment to the Criminal Code that criminalizes femicide and to strengthen efforts in this regard and to increase protection for women victims of domestic violence;
  • To raise the minimum age of marriage, of criminal responsibility and of labour;
  • To enhance efforts to ensure the protection of children’s rights;
  • To promote the participation of women and to promote equal access to employment and equal pay;
  • To pursue the reforms aimed at limiting pre-trial detention;
  • To fully align national legislation with the Rome Statute;
  • To strengthen the fight against trafficking in persons;
  • The Ratification of human rights instruments: the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families and  ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Panama is scheduled to take place on Friday, 8 May 2015.

 *The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

Media contacts:

Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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