Today, June 8, 2001, marks the end of the on-site visit of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ("IACHR" or
"Commission") to the Republic of Panama, at the invitation of its
Government, in order to observe the general situation of human rights in
this country. The delegation
consisted of the following members of the Commission: the President, Dean
Claudio Grossman, the Second Vice President, Ms. Marta Altolaguirre, and
Professor Hélio Bicudo. Dr.
Santiago Canton, IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression,
participated in the visit in that capacity.
Also attending were its Executive Secretary, Ambassador Jorge E.
Taiana; the Assistant Executive Secretary, Dr. David Padilla; and the human
rights specialist of the Commission, Dr. Raquel Poitevien, who is
responsible for Panama. In
addition, Dr. Isabel Madariaga participated as an attorney/consultant on
indigenous matters. Mrs. Martha
Keller and Mrs. Nadia Hansen provided administrative support.
Commission is the main organ of the Organization of American States (OAS)
responsible for promoting, in an impartial manner, observance and defense of
human rights in the Hemisphere. The
authority of the IACHR is derived largely from the American Convention
on Human Rights or Pact of San José ("the American
Convention") and the OAS Charter, instruments that were ratified by the
Republic of Panama. To that
end, the Commission investigates and makes decisions related to individual
complaints of human rights violations, holds on-site visits (such as its
current visit to Panama), and prepares draft treaties and declarations on
human rights, as well as reports on the situation of human rights in the
countries of the region. The Commission is composed of seven members elected in a
personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly to serve for a period of four
the visit, the IACHR interviewed the President of the Republic of Panama,
Her Excellency Mireya Moscoso; the Chairpersons of the Commissions on Human
Rights and Indigenous Affairs of the Legislative Assembly, Lawmakers Felipe
Cano and Enrique Montezuma, respectively; the President of the Supreme
Court, Dr. Mirtza Franceschi de Aguilera, and other senior state officials
of the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary, and other state offices.
Commission also interviewed the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr.
Harmodio Arias; the Minister of Government and Justice, Dr. Winston
Spadafora; the Vice Minister of Labor and Employment, Mr. Jaime A. Moreno Díaz;
the Minister of Youth, Women, Children, and Family, Ms. Alba Tejada de
Rolla; the Attorney General of Panama, Mr.
José Antonio Sossa; and the Director of National Police, Mr. Carlos
Barés. On that occasion, the
Commission was also able to meet with the magistrates of the electoral
tribunal, presided over by Dr. Erasmo Pinilla Castillero.
regard to the meetings with the different sectors of Panamanian civil
society, the Commission interviewed representatives of more than 30
non-governmental human rights organizations who submitted reports on their
different areas of work. The IACHR also met with representatives and authorities of
the different indigenous peoples, who provided the IACHR with information on
the situation of human rights in their communities.
IACHR also met with representatives and delegates of different United
Nations specialized agencies, among them PAHO/WHO, the UNCHR, and UNICEF,
with whom it shared important information on different topics.
Commission also visited the La Joyita Penitentiary, the Women's
Rehabilitation Center, and the Juvenile Detention Center.
During these visits, the IACHR interviewed the National Director of
the Correctional System, Ms. Concepción Corro, Ms. Ariel Herrera (La Joya),
Ms. Marta Navarro de Ávila (women), and Mr. Diomedes Kaa, Director of the
Institute of Inter-disciplinary Studies.
Commission also visited the National Psychiatric Hospital, together with
experts from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization
(PAHO/WHO), Dr. Lilian Reneau-Vernon (PAHO/WHO representative in Panama),
Dr. José Miguel Caldas de Almeida (Regional Coordinator of the PAHO/WHO
Mental Health Program), and Mr. Javier Vásquez (Representative of the
Department of Legal Affairs and the PAHO/WHO Mental Health Program).
IACHR went to the rural areas of the country and visited the Kuna de
Madungandi region to meet with the authorities of Kuna and Embera and
visited the community. In
addition, it traveled through the area and obtained information pertaining
to case 12.354 that is currently being processed by the IACHR.
is customary during these visits, the IACHR received complaints from
individuals, either directly or through their representatives, who claim to
have been the victims of human rights violations.
It also interviewed persons who wished to supplement the information
provided in their petitions and cases being processed by the Commission.
IACHR wishes to note that it had complete freedom to arrange meetings with
the persons whom it wanted to interview and to go anywhere it saw fit.
The Government of Panama provided the Commission with the most
extensive assistance and cooperation possible in every area in order to
accomplish its mission.
on-site visit has facilitated a closer relationship with the State and civil
society, which is conducive to the continuation of joint work related to the
ongoing task of protecting and promoting human rights.
The work done by the IACHR allowed it to make an assessment, which,
at this juncture, is preliminary and provisional, of the general situation
of human rights in Panama. The
information received will be analyzed carefully at the upcoming meetings
that the Commission will hold at its headquarters in order to prepare a
report on the situation of human rights in Panama.
It is important to point out that when it receives, processes, and
makes decisions related to the petitions of individuals who report human
rights violations, it is performing quasi-legal functions.
Consequently, the IACHR refrains from making specific statements
related to cases that can be prejudicial to the merits of the individual
cases submitted for its consideration.
foregoing notwithstanding, now that its visit has ended, the Commission
would like to make the following general statements:
the last visit of the IACHR to Panama in March 1998, the Commission has
followed closely developments in the general situation of human rights in
Panama, and has noted that currently, there are signs of very significant
progress in this area. Panama has undergone sweeping and significant change since
the inauguration of the Government of President Guillermo Endara on December
20, 1989, who was democratically elected in the May 1989 general elections.
The advent of a democratic regime brought an end to 21 years of
military dictatorship and systematic human rights violations, thereby
creating conditions that were conducive to progress in the areas of
democratic institution-building and strengthening of the rule of law.
These conditions led to the restoration of political freedoms, the
dismantling of the dictatorial and repressive apparatus, and to the
prosecution of a number of persons responsible for human rights violations.
During this phase, the Panamanian State worked towards the passage of
a variety of laws and the establishment of institutions to guarantee
exercise of human rights. It
should also be noted that Panama ratified all the human rights instruments
of the Organization of American States.
addition, the Panamanian State abolished the Army and created, by means of a
constitutional provision, a police force that came under civilian authority.
It also increased the professionalism of the national police through
a system of mandatory studies in the "Training School for
Officers." Other areas of noteworthy progress are the establishment of
the Office of the Ombudsman, two general elections (in 1994 and 1999), and
more recently, the establishment of the Truth Commission to investigate the
crimes committed during the period of dictatorship.
All these represent noteworthy measures taken to strengthen democracy
and human rights in Panama since 1990.
Government of Panama has sought to improve prison conditions, as evidenced
by the demolition of the Modelo Prison a few years ago.
This penitentiary, which was built in 1920, did not meet any
international human rights standards applicable to persons deprived of their
liberty. When this facility was destroyed, two new prisons were built
in order to alleviate the problem of overcrowding in the penitentiary
system. The Panamanian State is
preparing a series of draft laws and programs aimed at improving the
administration of justice. Furthermore,
a draft reform electoral law has been prepared, and seeks, among other
things, to improve the mechanisms used to hold elections and the system of
financing of elections. In
early May 2001, the Code of Criminal Procedure was amended, in order to
reduce delays in the judicial system. However,
these delays still exist and are cause for concern.
Panamanian State has repealed a number of "gag" laws, and during
the visit, it pledged to repeal the other laws that curb the right to
freedom of expression before the end of this constitutional period.
The IACHR was also informed by the Government that it would authorize
the establishment of a UNHCR Office in Panama in the Darién area.
Furthermore, with respect to the situation regarding indigenous
peoples, permission was granted for girls to wear their traditional garb to
schools located in indigenous areas and research will be done to determine
whether barriers exist to the entry of traditional indigenous names in the
civil register. The IACHR
commends Panama for all these initiatives that it will take, which will
serve to protect of the
cultural rights of indigenous peoples.
the progress made, there are important situations that are affecting the
full exercise of human rights in Panama.
Urgent and decisive efforts should be made by the Panamanian State to
address them. A brief
account of other important situations related to the observance of human
rights in the Republic of Panama is provided below:
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
The IACHR paid special attention to the information received
regarding the exercise of economic, cultural, and social rights.
It should be noted that Panama has ratified the Additional Protocol
to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social,
and Cultural Rights or the Protocol of San Salvador, which outlines, at the
regional level, the specific provisions related to these rights.
IACHR has been informed of the limitations to the exercise of these rights
as a result of insufficient development, a lack of resources, and unequal
distribution of income. In
particular, the IACHR has received troubling information on the situation of
indigenous communities and farmers, where poverty rates are as high as 90%
of the inhabitants and where several indicators of infant mortality, health
care, education, and living and working conditions are deplorable.
The IACHR will analyze all the information received in due course and
will present its conclusions regarding the exercise of economic, social, and
The IACHR has noted on several occasions its support for initiatives
that are aimed at investigating and shedding light on systematic human
rights violations by states. In particular, the inter-American system recognizes the right
to know the truth surrounding circumstances and to determine responsibility
for torture, extrajudicial executions, and disappearances that occurred
during periods of dictatorship, an issue that is very important to the
families of the victims and to society in general.
Government of the Republic of Panama has established, by means of Executive
Decree of January 18, 2001, the Truth Commission, which is to operate for a
period of six months, a period that may be extended for three additional
months. Its mandate is to
prepare an account of violations of the right to life, including
disappearances, that took place during the military regime from 1968 to
1989. The Commission
appreciates this initiative and hopes that it will shed light on the
circumstances under which deaths and disappearances took place, and will
determine the fate of the remains of the persons involved.
The IACHR interviewed members of the Truth Commission and obtained
information on its work. The
IACHR also obtained information on the difficulties being encountered by
this Commission in carrying out its mission effectively in so short a
period, since it is essential for it to have adequate resources, access to
all existing information, and, in particular, the full support of all state
entities and broad cooperation by the people.
Government of the Republic of Panama, through its Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, has asked the IACHR to provide it with assistance with the work
being done by the Truth Commission. The
IACHR reiterates to the people and Government of Panama that it will provide
as much assistance as it can in order to assist with the work that has been
assigned to this Commission. During
its visit, the IACHR turned over to the Truth Commission the public reports
on Panama that cover the period being investigated by this Commission.
IACHR, like the entire international community, hopes that this report of
the Truth Commission will represent a decisive step forward in the quest for
the truth, justice, and compensation for the human rights violations
committed during the reign of the military regime.
As the IACHR has noted on many occasions, the building of a society
where human rights can be fully exercised and sweeping violations cannot be
repeated, is contingent, in large measure, on determining the truth and
achieving justice for the victims of past atrocities.
THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
40, which has been in effect since August 1999, establishes the age at which
minors may be held criminally liable as 14-18 years, with maximum penalties
of five years. This law provides for alternatives to detention and other
benefits that permit persons to be held outside of penitentiaries, which
leads to a reduction in the total population of children that are in the
penitentiary system in the country.
During the visit, the IACHR received information that the criminal
population stands at 9,179 throughout Panama.
These persons are imprisoned in establishments with a total capacity
of 6,836 persons, which translates into an overcrowding rate of 34%.
This population is composed of 3,971 persons who have been sentenced
and 44 persons whose cases are being appealed.
The remainder, 5,164 persons, are awaiting trial and account for 56%
of the total prison population. These
figures show progress in relation to previous years, although, according to
reports received by the IACHR, the State has followed the provisions of
traditional penal law when making its reforms.
this, the penitentiary system continues to be seriously plagued by
overcrowding and a high number of persons are kept in pre-trial detention
for long periods due to delays in the processing of their criminal cases.
A greater effort must be made to reduce overpopulation and the number
of persons who have been prosecuted and kept in jail for long periods.
Furthermore, the IACHR was informed that there is no classification
of inmates, and persons who are being held for trial and those who have been
convicted live in the same cells.
IACHR visited criminal institutions, specifically the Women's Rehabilitation
Center, the Juvenile Detention Center, and La Joyita, where it met with the
prison authorities of La Joya.
the Women's Rehabilitation Center, the IACHR was able to note the efforts
that have been made by the State to improve the situation of persons who
have been prosecuted and convicted. However,
persons in pre-trial detention are living in deplorably overcrowded
conditions. The IACHR notes
that only some facilities where male inmates are held permit spousal visits.
Such visits are not allowed at the female penitentiaries.
At the Juvenile Detention Center, which is intended for children
between the ages of 14 and 18, the IACHR noted the presence of minors who
were 17 years old, whose living conditions met the basic requirements for
the prison situation in the La Joya and La Joyita jails is truly deplorable.
The two prisons, the biggest in the country, house more than 4,000
men, almost double their physical capacity.
As a result, a large number of prisoners have to sleep on the floor
or in hammocks, which are sometimes placed four meters above the floor.
Sanitation facilities are inadequate and in poor condition, and thus
pose health risks to the current population.
In addition, the IACHR noted serious deficiencies in the health
services available to detainees, and a dearth of employment opportunities,
rehabilitation programs, and recreational activities.
IACHR also noted the absence of specialized prison staff with proper
training in these tasks. The
members of the national police are responsible for the custody of detainees,
although some centers have civilian custody arrangements for the internal
monitoring of inmates. The
Minister of Justice indicated to the IACHR that it would like to hire
specialized prison staff.
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
IACHR has indicated its ongoing concern over the situation of children in
the Hemisphere. It should be noted that, despite the fact that the Panamanian
State has signed and ratified ILO Agreement 138, the IACHR has received
several reports regarding the existence of child labor, in particular among
indigenous children, who harvest sugar cane and coffee, and that oversight
measures on the part of government entities are ineffective.
The IACHR has paid special attention to the human rights of women.
The IACHR appreciates the progress made in recent years, particularly
those aimed at recognizing the rights of women, by appointing them to senior
positions within the government. However,
during the visit, the IACHR received information that women are receiving
lower salaries than those of men, and that the percentage of unemployed
women of working age is higher than the percentage of men.
IACHR expresses its satisfaction over the approval of Law 27 establishing a
penalty for sexual harassment and rape, as well as programs to protect
women, which are intended to prevent and sanction domestic violence.
It has also been informed that sexual education and reproductive
health programs are being encouraged, something that is essential, given the
fact that, according to official figures, 22% of households are headed by
women. The IACHR also expresses
its satisfaction over the passage of Law 6 of 2000 aimed at eliminating
sexist language in the educational sphere.
RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
IACHR has an ongoing interest in the human rights of indigenous peoples, and
it notes with satisfaction the legislative progress made in recent years,
particularly those initiatives aimed at recognizing the territories of
indigenous peoples and their cultural rights, in particular, the laws
establishing the regions of Madungandi, Nögbe Buglé, and Kuna de Wargandi,
as well as the law pertaining to the Special System of Intellectual Property
on the Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
However, the IACHR has received information that a number of
difficulties persist, such as the existence of peoples whose territory has
not been recognized in the laws establishing regions and the amendment of
the laws governing regions without prior consultation with the persons
affected, thereby undermining their right to participation in matters that
affect them. Also, the IACHR
notes with concern the situation faced by children, the majority of whom are
Nögbe Buglé indigenous children, who are working in the sugar cane fields
of Veragua and Cocle under subhuman conditions, and the children and adults,
largely of indigenous origin, who have no legal identity, in Chriquí,
Renacimiento Department, on the border with Costa Rica.
The IACHR received information that the poverty levels of the
indigenous people of Panama pose a serious problem because of the
distribution of national income. Approximately
80% of indigenous people live in poverty, and 70%, in abject poverty.
RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
IACHR has noted on other occasions its concern over the situation of people
with disabilities and has urged States to take measures to avoid
discrimination against them in different spheres.
During its visit, the IACHR received information on the lack of
regulation and specific measures applicable to persons with physical
disabilities. In addition, the
IACHR visited the National Psychiatric Hospital in order to observe the
situation of persons who are in this facility as well as adherence to
international standards related to the rights of persons with mental
its visit, the IACHR received information that it will analyze later on.
The IACHR should note its concern regarding the possibility of access
by patients to information on their basic rights when they enter an
institution and on the exercise of a large number of the rights provided for
in the "Caracas Declaration" of PAHO/WHO, and the "Principles
for the Protection of Mental Illness and Improvement of Mental Health
Care" of the United Nations. In
particular, the IACHR learned that the majority of patients had been
institutionalized involuntarily and that in some cases, all possible steps
were not taken to avoid their involuntary admission.
It was also informed that patients, or, as necessary, their families,
were not always consulted regarding their psychiatric treatment plan or
informed of their progress, and that the informed written consent of the
patient or that person's representative was not always obtained prior to the
start of the treatment plan. Also,
in some instances, there were no provisions that stipulated the
circumstances under which patients could be involuntarily admitted or that
indicated the authority responsible for making a decision on this admission,
and the pertinent procedures. There
were also no legal or other entities that were trained, independent, and
impartial, nor were there any effective procedures for reviewing the
involuntary admission of patients or determining whether the conditions or
circumstances for their involuntary admission still existed.
Living conditions in the hospital are deplorable.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
of expression in the Hemisphere is one of the main concerns of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Due to the great many demands of broad sectors of civil society in
the Americas, the IACHR set up a Special Office of the Rapporteur for
Freedom of Expression. The
Office of the Rapporteur is permanent in nature, functions independently,
and has its own budget. It
operates within the legal framework of the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights. The Office of the
Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression enjoys the support of the Chiefs of
State and Government of the Hemisphere, who publicly expressed their concern
over the situation with regard to freedom of expression in their countries
at the Second Summit of the Americas that was held in Chile in April 1998,
and agreed to the establishment of this Office of the Rapporteur.
objectives of the Office of the Rapporteur are, among other things, to build
awareness regarding full respect for freedom of expression in the
Hemisphere, given the important role that this plays in strengthening and
developing a democratic system and in providing information on and
protecting other human rights, and to make specific recommendations to
member states on related matters, so that they can gradually adopt favorable
measures in this regard.
Special Rapporteur visited Panama in July 2000 at the invitation of the
Panamanian Government. After
the visit, the Special Rapporteur released a number of preliminary
conclusions related to the visit. This
report is currently being completed, and will include the information
received thus far.
Commission would like to express its concern over the fact that from the
time of the visit of the Rapporteur to date, no progress has been made in
establishing broader guarantees of free exercise of the right to freedom of
expression. On the contrary, the Commission was provided with information
regarding an increase in criminal proceedings against journalists.
Commission has stated that the penalty imposed for statements made against
public officials or individuals who are voluntarily involved in matters of
public interest is too harsh, given the importance of freedom of expression
and information in a democratic system.
need for complete and effective control of the handling of public matters in
order to guarantee a democratic society means that persons in positions of
responsibility must be granted protection that is different, insofar as
criticism is concerned, in relation to individuals who are outside this
sphere. In that context, the
Commission has stated that the enforcement of laws to protect the honor of
public officials acting in an official capacity gives them an unjustifiable
right to protection that is not enjoyed by the other members of society.
This distinction has an indirect effect on the fundamental principle
of a democratic system under which governments are subject to certain
controls, among them, scrutiny by citizens in order to prevent or control
abuse of their power of coercion.
obligation of the State to protect the rights of others is fulfilled by
establishing statutory protection against international attacks on a
person's honor and reputation through civil suits and the enactment of laws
that guarantee the right to correction or a reply.
In that sense, the State guarantees protection of the private lives
of all individuals, without abusing its powers of coercion to repress
individual freedom to form and express an opinion.
Commission was able to verify that legal provisions classified as contempt [desacato]
remain in effect. In the view
of the Commission, contempt provisions are incompatible with Article 13 of
the American Convention on Human Rights.
Principle 11 of the Declaration of Principles of Freedom on
Expression approved by the IACHR states that "Public officials are
subject to greater scrutiny by society. Laws that penalize offensive
expressions directed at public officials, generally known as “desacato
laws,” restrict freedom of expression and the right to information."
Based on information received, the following provisions cover contempt:
Article 33 of the Constitution, Articles 202 and 386 of the Judicial
Code, Article 827 of the Administrative Code on correctional penalties,
Article 45 of the Administrative Code of the Municipal Administration, and
Articles 307 and 308 of the Penal Code.
regard to access to information, the Commission reiterates the comments of
the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression during its
visit to Panama in July 2000. On
that occasion, the Office of the Special Rapporteur recommended the
enactment of laws to guarantee effective compliance with the right of access
to information and habeas data
action. The IACHR received
information on the existence of a number of drafts related to access to
information. A number of these
initiatives were taken by the civil society and others, by the authorities.
The IACHR would like to stress the importance of expeditious
consideration of these initiatives in order to avoid unnecessary delay in
the approval of this law.
existence of procedures that guarantee access to information in the custody
of the State authorities helps monitor state management and is one of the
most effective ways of combating corruption.
The absence of effective monitoring runs counter to the very essence
of democracy and leaves the door open to unacceptable acts of violation and
abuse. Guaranteeing access to information held by the State enhances
the transparency of government action and, consequently, reduces corruption
in state management. Furthermore,
broad access to the information in the custody of the State is essential in
order to ensure that citizens are duly informed of human rights violations.
This right is even more important in situations where a Truth Commission has
been established and is in the process of preparing a report on the
systematic violations of human rights that have occurred in the past.
Commission has received information on the existence of a preliminary draft
law on the press. In this
regard, the Commission wishes to point out that a Declaration of Principles
on Freedom of Expression was recently approved, establishing international
standards for proper protection of this right, in accordance with Article 13
of the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Commission asks the Panamanian authorities to be mindful of this
Declaration, both in terms of the drafting of this law, and in analyzing,
amending, or repealing, as necessary, existing provisions related to freedom
Commission received information on a case alleging the possible intervention
by the authorities to deny an individual official advertisement of a media
resource. Without prejudice to
the analysis that will be done by the Commission of the information
received, the Commission would like to point out the content of Principle 13
of the Declaration of Principles, which states: "The exercise of power
and the use of public funds by the state, the granting of customs duty
privileges, the arbitrary and discriminatory placement of official
advertising and government loans; the concession of radio and television
broadcast frequencies, among others, with the intent to put pressure on and
punish or reward and provide privileges to social communicators and
communications media because of the opinions they express threaten freedom
of expression, and must be explicitly prohibited by law. The means of
communication have the right to carry out their role in an independent
manner. Direct or indirect pressures exerted upon journalists or other
social communicators to stifle the dissemination of information are
incompatible with freedom of expression."
Commission must mention that poverty and the social exclusion of broad
sectors of the population have a serious impact on freedom of expression,
given the fact that those voices are ignored, these persons have difficulty
gaining access to the general discussion of ideas and opinions, and are
limited in terms of access to the information that is necessary for
equitable development in a democratic society.
discrimination against women and indigenous peoples undermines freedom of
expression. When they are excluded from public discourse, society fails
to hear the views of the majority of the population. Freedom of expression of individuals takes place through the
mass media and through active political participation in a mechanism for
ensuring that a forum can be found for addressing the stark inequalities
that exist in numerous sectors of the population, thereby facilitating the
search for solutions in a democratic context.
52. Lastly, during its stay, the IACHR received numerous complaints that the Attorney General, Mr. José Antonio Sossa, was allegedly involved in a systematic campaign against journalists, and in so doing, was failing to display the neutrality and impartiality that his high office requires. The IACHR will investigate these complaints in which the claim is made that under the guise of protecting an individual's honor, an attempt is being made to curb freedom of expression in Panama, by prosecuting a large number of journalists.
EXECUTION OF A JUDGMENT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
53. It is
public knowledge that last February the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
handed down a ruling in the case of Baena et
al which had been processed by the IACHR and referred to the Court.
During its stay in Panama, the IACHR met with representatives of the
victims of the case, who expressed to the IACHR their concern over the delay
in execution of this judgment. During
its meeting with the President of the Republic, the IACHR received complete
assurances from her of her intent to fulfill the international obligations
imposed in that judgment.
IACHR would like to express its appreciation to the Government of the
Republic of Panama, represented by its President, Mrs. Mireya Moscoso, the
Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Panamanian Mission to the OAS, and other
state authorities, for the invitation extended to the Commission and for all
the accommodations made during the visit; in particular, to non-governmental
organizations, and to the OAS national office in Panama, which also provided
assistance with the different aspects of the visit, to the individuals who,
in a frank and transparent manner, courageously provided valuable evidence
and documentation so that the IACHR could carry out its mission effectively
during its visit, and to all persons and institutions who, together with the
aforementioned institutions, offered their hospitality, cooperation, and
assistance to the IACHR in order to ensure the success of its visit. The Commission would also like to thank the journalists and
mass media for the coverage provided during this visit.
accordance with the functions assigned under the OAS Charter, the American
Convention, and other pertinent international legal instruments, the
Commission will continue to monitor the situation of human rights in Panama.
to the aforementioned instruments, the IACHR will draft, in the months
ahead, a final report on the situation of human rights in Panama, which will
contain the pertinent conclusions and recommendations that it will make to
the Panamanian State. Once the
regulatory procedures have been completed, this report will be made
available to the Panamanian people and other OAS member States.
The IACHR reiterates its desire to continue cooperating with the
authorities and people of Panama within its sphere of competence, in order
to contribute to the strengthening of internal and international mechanisms
for defending and protecting human rights within the framework of a
democratic and constitutional State governed by the rule of law.
Panama, June 8, 2001