Panama is committed to the fight against Trafficking in Persons

2 August, 2021


Trafficking in Persons is a complex crime and a phenomenon that affects every country in the world, it requires in-depth study and is related to structural inequalities that gravely violate human rights.


Panama joins the global efforts to eradicate Trafficking in Persons through the development of strategies and mechanisms to prevent, suppress and punish this crime, in addition to seeking due attention to the victims. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) contributes to and supports the efforts of the Government of Panama in the development and implementation of a comprehensive response against Trafficking in Persons, aimed at supporting its prevention and protection of the victims, as well as the investigation and prosecution of the crime.


Records of the National Commission Against Trafficking in Persons of the Ministry of Public Security indicate that so far in 2021, there are more cases of Trafficking in Persons for the purpose of forced labour and sexual exploitation than for any other kind of exploitation practices. Most of the victims are women whom their captors have deceived and have offered them a job, and end up being forced to perform acts in accordance with their will.


In the framework of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, which is commemorated every year on July 30th, IOM held a panel discussion on the topic of "Trafficking in Persons and Human Rights: Challenges and opportunities from awareness-raising, protection of victims and crime prevention", which was attended by government authorities, members of the civil society, representatives of the diplomatic corps, among others. The aim of this event was exchanging experiences, analysing, and reviewing the main advances and challenges that have been presented to achieve the prevention, investigation and prosecution of this crime, in addition to positioning a comprehensive perspective of human rights for the protection of victims.


It is worth mentioning that on July 9th, 2021, the Public Prosecutor's Office, through the First Specialized Office against Organized Crime, managed to get the Oral Trial Court of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama to issue a sentence of 23 years in prison as the main penalty for the crimes of Trafficking in Persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation, kidnapping and extortion, thus constituting one of the highest convictions for this crime in the country.


This year, the importance of listening and learning from those who have survived that crime is highlighted. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of people in precarious situations who are more likely to become victims of traffickers, who besiege the most vulnerable to take advantage and exploit them.


Trafficking in Persons, particularly when children and adolescents are targeted, remains a crime that carries few risks for offenders and based on the principles of supply and demand, brings with it great benefits. Worldwide, about one third of all identified victims of trafficking are minors.


For Santiago Paz, Head of the Panama Administrative Centre and Chief of IOM’s Mission in Panama, "IOM's commitment is to promote regular, orderly and safe migration and attend to the protection of victims from a human rights perspective, which is why, together with the government of Panama, we have joined together to work side by side with the National Commission Against Trafficking in Persons, to advance the development of comprehensive strategies aimed at addressing one of the greatest offenses to humanity: human trafficking."


Similarly, Juan Manuel Pino Forero, Minister of Public Security of the Republic of Panama, stressed that "the National Commission Against Trafficking in Persons is promoting the national plan against Trafficking in Persons, which through its strategic axis on prevention, awareness and awareness, seeks to strengthen strategic actions through which we reiterate the commitment of the Panamanian State against this scourge."


The activity was carried out through the Western Hemisphere Program, funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the US Department of State, with the aim of promoting good governance,  regular migration and reducing the vulnerabilities of migrants, as well as with the support of the European Union through its Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP), which once again reaffirms its commitment to promoting integration and peaceful coexistence by contributing to the health response, community engagement and the protection of affected communities.


For more information, please contact Mayteé Zachrisson, IOM Panama Communications and Media Assistant, at