Panama a transit depot for human trafficking
PANAMA. Panama has taken significant steps to combat human trafficking, but more needs to be done to eradicate that problem from the co...
PANAMA. Panama has taken significant steps to combat human trafficking, but more needs to be done to eradicate that problem from the country, said the 2009 US State Department on Trafficking of Persons.
Trafficking in persons is modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded, or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation.
Currently Panama is in category two of countries with human trafficking problems. This means that the government is making big efforts to comply with the standards of the US Traffic Victim Protection Act.
The standards contemplate a legal framework and immigration policy designed to prevent, catch and punish those people dedicated to human traffic and to protect the victims of the crime.
Twelve months ago, Panama was included in the Tier 2 Watch list, because the number of human trafficking victims was increasing, but that situation has changed.
Last year the Martin Torrijos’s administration reformed the Penal Code imposing harsher punishments for human traffickers and implementing prevention measures. It also eliminated the “alternadora” visa that allowed foreign women to enter the country to work in night clubs as “companions/ prostitutes”.
However, human trafficking continues to thrive due to the lack of security on the borders with Costa Rica and Colombia that allowed human traders to cross without being detected.
According to the report Panama is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation.
Also some non-government organizations reported that some Panamanian children, mostly young girls, are trafficked into domestic servitude.
Government agencies indicate that indigenous girls may be trafficked by their parents into prostitution in Darien province.
With regards to the foreign traffic victims are adult women from Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and neighboring Central American countries; some of them migrate voluntarily to Panama to work but were subsequently forced into prostitution.
Another document for the Fund for Peace Foundation said that one of the biggest human rights violations occurring within Panama is human trafficking, especially of women and children.
An article published by the Panama America on April 23, 2007 said that the Chinese Mafia considered Panama and Colombia safe routes for human trafficking towards the United States.
The situation is improving in Panama, but in other countries such as Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela human trafficking is a prosperous business said the report.
It is important to point out that according to the State Department, Colombia is the only country in Latin America that complies with the minimum standards of the Traffic Victim Protection Act.
The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton said that the global economic crisis makes people more vulnerable, because they are easily attracted by false promises of employment and become modern slaves.
The annual report examines the human trafficking situation in 175 countries.
No Panamanian authority was available to comment on the report.