Refugee cases pending six years
PANAMA. The National Refugee Office (ONPAR) of the Government and Justice Ministry is completely disorganized and there have been a ser...
PANAMA. The National Refugee Office (ONPAR) of the Government and Justice Ministry is completely disorganized and there have been a series of situations that are the product of a complete lack of interest in protecting refugees’ rights, says the new director of the department, Juan Carlos Orillac.
The director said that there is lack of co-ordination among the different institutions, cases outstanding since 2003 and a complete ignorance of the administrative processes, which in term has caused unnecessary delay in the status of those people wishing to apply for asylum.
Orillac said that the present system is slow and obsolete. He has found applications for work permits from two years ago, which according to him leaves refugees vulnerable, because they cannot earn a living and costs money to the State that has to support them as well as providing food and housing.
Orillac said that processes that should have been taking no more than three months are taking years due to the lack of co-ordination with the Labor Ministry.
Currently the refugee population in the country totals around 968 people, with another 830 displaced, but the government is unable to verify the figures due to the lack of statistics.
There are 100 cases seeking refugee status waiting to go the Asylum Commission, which has not met since October 2008.
The director plans to implement a new way of classifying cases method to speed up the process and make the department more efficient.