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Cablegate: Panama's Input for Fourth Annual Anti-Trafficking

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

id: 14632
date: 3/5/2004 16:08
refid: 04PANAMA548
origin: Embassy Panama
classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
destination:
header:
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


----------------- header ends ----------------

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 10 PANAMA 000548

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


STATE PASS FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL
PRM, IWI, WHA/PPC/FALLS, AND WHA/CEN/BRIGHAM
STATE PASS FOR USAID


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB CO PM LABOR HUMAN RIGHTSPOLMIL
SUBJECT: PANAMA'S INPUT FOR FOURTH ANNUAL ANTI-TRAFFICKING
IN PERSONS (TIP) REPORT


REF: A. SECSTATE 7869
B. 03 SECSTATE 27013
C. PANAMA 399
D. SINTESIS REGIONAL - INTERNATIONAL LABOR
ORGANIZATION
E. PANAMA 229
F. PANAMA 419
G. 03 PANAMA 708
H. 03 PANAMA 1015
I. 03 PANAMA 3095
J. 03 PANAMA 3224
K. PANAMA 148
L. SUHR-MCINTYRE E-MAIL 3/2/04
M. RESEARCH FOR SEX WORK JOURNAL 6/02
N. 03 PANAMA 3170
O. LINDERMAN-MCINTYRE E-MAIL 2/13/04
P. DIRECTORIO DE INSTITUTCIONES- INTERNATIONAL
LABOR ORGANIZATION
Q. PANAMA 226


------
SUMMARY
-------


1. (SBU) While Embassy Panama believes that trafficking in
persons (TIP) is a problem in Panama, it is still relatively
small and manageable. Embassy has worked closely with the
Government of Panama (GOP) to discover more about the extent
of the problem in Panama and to encourage the GOP to work
harder and more effectively to put an end to it. We believe
that the GOP is moving quickly in the right direction to
address TIP and we have found great support for enhanced
anti-TIP measures from all GOP levels, including its highest
officials. The GOP acknowledges that it has a TIP problem
and is carrying out more intensive measures to sharply reduce
the number of TIP victims. In particular, the GOP recognizes
that enhanced public awareness, public statements by
government officials, effective legislation, aggressive
police work and prosecution, victim assistance, and better
program coordination all are necessary components to
successful anti-TIP efforts. The GOP is open to suggestions
from Embassy-G/TIP and GOP ministries and the Legislative
Assembly are increasingly "on alert" about the seriousness of
TIP. End Summary.


2. (U) Per Reftels (A and B) Embassy Panama is pleased to
submit its input for the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP)
report.


3. (SBU) Answers to Checklist Question 18.


A. IS THE COUNTRY A COUNTRY OF ORIGIN, TRANSIT OR
DESTINATION FOR INTERNATIONALLY TRAFFICKED MEN, WOMEN OR
CHILDREN? Yes. SPECIFY NUMBERS WITHIN EACH GROUP:
Estimated Men (0), Women (50-100), Children (50-100). DOES
THE TRAFFICKING OCCUR WITHIN THE COUNTRY'S BORDERS? Yes.


DOES IT OCCUR IN AN AREA OUTSIDE THE GOVERNMENT'S CONTROL?
No. ARE THERE ESTIMATES OR RELIABLE NUMBERS AVAILABLE AS TO
THE EXTENT OR MAGNITUDE OF THE PROBLEM? PLEASE INCLUDE ANY
NUMBERS OF VICTIMS. WHAT IS (ARE) THE SOURCE(S) OF AVAILABLE
INFORMATION ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS? HOW RELIABLE ARE THE
NUMBERS AND THESE SOURCES? GOP tracks arrests, prosecutions,
and victim complaints, in addition to deportations of illegal
foreign sex workers. (Ref. C) The International Labor
Organization (ILO)/Program for Eradication of Child Labor
(IPEC), along with academics at the University of Panama
(UP), publish reports on commercial sexual exploitation of
minors. (Ref. D) (NOTE: ILO/IPEC is working regionally to
combat commercial sexual exploitation of minors. End Note)
Panama's press has reported on underage sex workers and
arrests and prosecutions of their traffickers. (Ref. E & F)
GOP and NGOS officials also provide verbal reports and
updates to Emboffs on numbers of TIP victims. (Ref. C)


GOP and ILO reports and commentary are reliable. Press
reports at times are reliable, but are often
sensationalized. A combination of official GOP reports, NGO
studies, discussions with GOP and NGO officials, and
extrapolation indicates the overall TIP victim total
surpasses Department and G/TIP's 100 victim threshold.
Estimated number of victims is 50-100 Women. Embassy
evaluated the sources of the reports and took a "realistic
and solid evidence" approach, basing total TIP victims
numbers on verifiable evidence and knowledge of Panama's
overall social and economic conditions. The estimates for
the adults does assume that a small percentage (5-10%) of
female sex workers in Panama or transiting Panama could be
considered TIP victims. All knowledgeable TIP sources agree
that the overwhelming majority of adult female sex workers in
Panama or transiting Panama have chosen their profession
freely and are not to be considered TIP victims. (Ref. C, G,
H, I, J)


The estimated number of minor TIP victims is 50-100. This
estimate is based on ILO/IPEC reports, recent child sex
worker ring busts, and meetings with NGOs. (Ref. E and K)
The ILO reports indicate that there are at least 100 minors
who are sexually exploited for commercial purposes, but a
careful reading reveals that many of the victims appear to be
part of the larger problem of familial sexual abuse or
prostitute themselves because of drug addictions.


Official GOP reports would indicate a combined adult and
minor TIP victim population of 20-60 based on complaints,
investigations, and extrapolation from other official
records. Immigration Department officials indicated
approximately 125 women were deported for working illegally
in the sex trade, mainly Colombians and some Dominicans.
They reported that none of these women claimed to be TIP
victims. (Ref. L) (Note: There have been unsubstantiated
allegations of debt bondage amongst smuggled Mainland
Chinese. (Ref. K) No evidence has been uncovered to support
these allegations. Embassy continues to search for more
credible evidence. Estimates are not provided for debt
bondage TIP victims. End Note.)


B. WHERE ARE PERSONS TRAFFICKED FROM? Women: Colombia
(primarily), Dominican Republic. Children: No credible
evidence of international trafficking of children to or
through Panama. WHERE ARE THE PERSONS TRAFFICKED TO: Panama,
Costa Rica, United States (through Central America).


C. HAVE THERE BEEN ANY CHANGES IN THE DIRECTION OR EXTENT OF
TRAFFICKING? In recent months it is likely that trafficking
slowed because of high-profile arrests and prosecutions. The
direction of trafficking has not changed. For women it flows
from Colombia and Dominican Republic to or through Panama.
For minors, evidence indicates it is an internal trafficking
issue only.


D. ARE THERE EFFORTS OR SURVEYS PLANNED OR UNDERWAY TO
DOCUMENT THE EXTENT AND NATURE OF TRAFFICKING THE COUNTRY? IS
ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM SUCH REPORTS OR
SURVEYS THAT WAS NOT AVAILABLE LAST YEAR? ILO/IPEC publishes
reports and studies on the extent of commercial sexual
exploitation of minors in Panama. (Ref. D) Most of their
reports have been published within the last two years. NGOs
publish reports on the health status of sex workers in
Panama. (Ref. M) The GOP tracks TIP victims complaints/cases
through the Panamanian Judicial Police (PTJ) Sex Crimes Unit.
Immigration tracks deportations of illegal sex workers. GOP
could improve its reporting with better inter-agency
coordination and a more formalized structure.


E. IF THE COUNTRY IS A DESTINATION POINT FOR TRAFFICKED
VICTIMS: WHAT KIND OF CONDITIONS ARE THE VICTIMS TRAFFICKED
INTO? WHAT METHODS ARE USED TO ENSURE THEIR COMPLIANCE? ARE
THE VICTIMS SUBJECT TO VIOLENCE, THREATS, WITHHOLDING OF
DOCUMENTS, DEBT BONDAGE, ETC? Women and minors (girls) are
trafficked into massage parlors and nude dancing
establishments, which serve as brothels. Many also work on
the streets. PTJ Sex Crime Unit detectives indicate that
withholding of documents (passports) and heavy debts are the
most common means of ensuring compliance. Withholding of
documents is most common for those who are working illegally
(without work permits/"alternadora" visas) in prostitution.
Threats of violence have not been reported in the vast
majority of cases. In a recent bust of child prostitution
ring, PTJ detectives told EmbOffs that the minor victims
(girls) and their families feared physical harm from the
ring's operators who are linked with known drug traffickers.
(Ref. F)


F. IF THE COUNTRY IS COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Panama is not a
country of origin for women or minors. WHICH POPULATIONS ARE
TARGETED BY TRAFFICKERS? WHO ARE THE TRAFFICKERS? WHAT
METHODS ARE USED TO APPROACH VICTIMS? WHAT METHODS ARE USED
TO MOVE VICTIMS? GOP and ILO reports indicate minors (girls)
are offered cash and clothing by those running sex worker
rings. Traffickers are usually non-family, third parties.
According to recent reports, girls are approached on the
streets when away from their parents by third parties.
Victims are transported within Panama by car and usually
within a relatively limited area. (Ref. F) Adult victims are
likely Colombian, and, to a lesser extent, Dominican female
sex workers that arrive willingly in Panama to work in the
sex trade but could become victims of TIP.


G. IS THERE POLITICAL WILL AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF
GOVERNMENT TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS? Yes. IS THE
GOVERNMENT MAKING A GOOD FAITH EFFORT TO SERIOUSLY ADDRESS
TRAFFICKING? Yes. IS THERE A WILLINGNESS TO TAKE ACTION
AGAINST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS LINKED TO TIP? Yes. IN BROAD
TERMS, WHAT RESOURCES IS THE HOST GOVERNMENT DEVOTING TO
COMBATING TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS (IN TERMS OF PREVENTION,
PROTECTION, AND PROSECUTION) The GOP, within its limited
means, devotes considerable resources to combating TIP. The
Foreign Ministry (MFA) and the Ministry of Government and
Justice (MOGJ) are well aware of the issue and are
strengthening their efforts and putting into place pro-active
and imaginative measures to combat TIP ((see para. 3(A), 4(A)
and 5(A)). (Refs. C, G, H, N) The PTJ Sex Crimes Unit along
with the Family and Children Court District Attorneys
(Fiscales) are the primary investigation and prosecution arm
of the GOP. Within the Sex Crimes Unit, there are 6
detectives who have specialized TIP knowledge but they do not
exclusively investigate TIP cases. (NOTE: Panama has a
greater magnitude problem of sexual violence and
non-commercial sexual exploitation. Resources and manpower
within the Sex Crimes Unit and the District Attorneys offices
are dedicated accordingly. End Note.)


The Immigration Department as part of its broader mission to
deter illegal migration conducts raids on brothels and other
establishments were TIP victims may be present. These
operations are carried out every two to three months and on
an ad-hoc basis responding to complaints and leads.
Immigration works in conjunction with the Panama National
Police (PNP). (Ref. L) Immigration also has increased
airport and border-crossing enforcement, often in conjunction
and with the assistance of USG resources. As discussed with
EmbOffs, Immigration officers are aware that certain visitors
to Panama fit the profile of persons seeking to work
illegally in the sex trade who could subsequently become or
are TIP victims. (NOTE: The profile includes adult women
from Colombia or the Dominican Republic with limited cash, a
one way or open-ended ticket, who often claim to be artists
or hairdressers. End Note.) The National Air Service (SAN)
and National Marine Service SMN also conduct interdictions to
apprehend illegal migrants. To date, no TIP victims have
been found in these interdictions.


The Ministry of Labor, Youth, Women, Children and Family
Affairs, and Education have projects designed to eliminate
illegal child labor, forced or otherwise, which can include
commercial sexual exploitation of minors. NGOs ((see para.
5(I)) and international organizations (such as ILO) are also
active in combating the larger problems of domestic violence
and sexual abuse of women and children. Combating TIP has a
natural link with
their work in these areas.


Panama's legislature is preparing an important improvement to
its existing TIP law ((see para. 5(A)).


Per Reftels (C, G, H, N) USG has on-going TIP dialogue with
all levels of the GOP. The message has been delivered and
heard by from the President to the offices of the PTJ Sex
Crime Unit. Embassy continues to work closely with the
highest levels of the GOP and believes that in the coming
weeks and months, GOP will further strengthen their anti-TIP
efforts.


H. DO GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITIES OR INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF
GOVERNMENT FORCES FACILITATE OR CONDONE TRAFFICKING, OR ARE
THEY OTHERWISE COMPLICIT IN SUCH ACTIVITIES? No. There are
allegations that a Panamanian consul is facilitating TIP
related visa and/or passport fraud. (Ref. O) Embassy is
working with the GOP to investigate allegations. Embassy is
confident GOP would welcome additional information and take
appropriate action. DO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS (SUCH AS
CUSTOMS, BORDER GUARDS, IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS, LABOR
INSPECTORS, LOCAL POLICE, OR OTHERS) RECEIVE BRIBES FROM
TRAFFICKERS OR OTHERWISE ASSIST IN THEIR OPERATIONS? No
evidence has been uncovered regarding bribes to GOP officials
from TIP traffickers. WHAT PUNITIVE MEASURES, IF ANY, HAVE
BEEN TAKEN AGAINST THOSE INDIVIDUALS COMPLICIT OR INVOLVED IN
TRAFFICKING? N/A, see above.


I. WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT'S ABILITY TO
ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM IN PRACTICE? FOR EXAMPLE, IS FUNDING
FOR POLICE OR INSTITUTIONS INADEQUATE? Funding is limited
for TIP-specific investigations within PTJ, PNP, Immigration
and other GOP ministries. Lack of funding limits training
and hurts victim's assistance and coordination within the GOP
and with NGOs. The current anti-TIP, anti-child pornography
law, while sufficient, can hamper active investigations
because of the need for a formal complaint to be filed and
antiquated legal definitions. (Ref. C) IS OVERALL CORRUPTION
A PROBLEM? Corruption is a problem in Panama. However,
corruption does not seem to be related to GOP anti-TIP and
anti-child pornography efforts.


J. TO WHAT EXTENT DOES THE GOVERNMENT SYSTEMATICALLY MONITOR
ITS ANTI-TRAFFICKING EFFORTS (ON ALL FRONTS, PROSECUTION,
PREVENTION, AND VICTIM PROTECTION) AND PERIODICALLY MAKE
AVAILABLE, PUBLICLY AND PRIVATELY AND DIRECTLY OR THROUGH
REGIONAL/INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, ITS ASSESSMENTS OF
THESE ANTI-TRAFFICKING EFFORTS? The PTJ Sex Crimes Unit
tracks all active and closed cases and prosecutions. The PNP
and Immigration have statistics on deportations, including
those involving illegal prostitution. The GOP Ministries
that work to eradicate forced child labor and commercial
sexual exploitation of minors all track results of their
projects. The GOP shares its statistics with NGOS, ILO/IPEC,
and the Embassy. Embassy officials can call at any time and
receive the latest updates from these GOP ministries.
ILO/IPEC uses statistics from the PTJ to supplement their own
reporting.


K. IS PROSTITUTION LEGALIZE OR DECRIMINALIZED? Yes and it is
regulated. IF PROSTITUTION IS LEGAL AND REGULATED, WHAT IS
LEGAL MINIMUM AGE FOR THIS ACTIVITY? 18


L. DOES THE PRACTICE OF BUYING OR SELLING CHILD BRIDES
(BRIDES UNDER THE AGE OF 18 YEARS) OCCUR IN COUNTRY? No. DO
MEN OF THE COUNTRY TRAVEL ABROAD TO PURCHASE CHILD BRIDES? No


4. (SBU) Answers to checklist question 19


A. DOES THE GOVERNMENT ACKNOWLEDGE THAT TRAFFICKING IS A
PROBLEM IN THAT COUNTRY? Yes, GOP officials acknowledge
there are TIP victims in Panama. Those within GOP working to
combat TIP speak openly about its existence in Panama but
most do not believe there are more than 100 victims. (Ref. C)
However, GOP continues devote considerable time, efforts and
resources to combating TIP.


B. WHICH GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ARE INVOLVED IN
ANTI-TRAFFICKING EFFORTS? PTJ (including Sex Crimes Unit),
PNP, Immigration, MFA, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Health,
SAN, SMN, Family and Child Courts, District Attorneys, the
Ombudsman (Defensora) and the Legislature.


C. ARE THERE OR HAVE THERE BEEN GOVERNMENT-RUN
ANTI-TRAFFICKING INFORMATION OR EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS? IF SO,
BRIEFLY DESCRIBE THE CAMPAIGN(S), INCLUDING THEIR OBJECTIVE
AND EFFECTIVENESS. DO THESE CAMPAIGNS TARGET POTENTIAL
TRAFFICKING VICTIMS AND/OR THE DEMAND
FOR TRAFFICKING (E.G. "CLIENTS" OF PROSTITUTES OR
BENEFICIARIES OF FORCED LABOR). The PTJ Sex Crimes Unit has
conducted informal education sessions at schools and
universities specifically discussing trafficking and related
crimes. The government, to date, has not conducted a formal
national outreach campaign. Embassy plans to assist the PTJ
and other GOP ministries with the development of a public
education program within the coming months. (Ref. C) Program
will follow similar format as the GOP educational campaigns
on money-laundering, drugs, and violent crimes. The
Ministries of Labor, Education, Youth, Women, Children, and
Family Affairs conduct educational campaigns about the
negative effects of sexual abuse and forced child labor,
including commercial sexual exploitation of minors.
Immigration hosts radio call-in program where a variety of
migration issues are discussed. (Ref. L) (NOTE: USG
assistance supported GOP educational campaigns addressing
money laundering, drugs, and violence. Given the increased
USG, GOP, and international communities efforts to combat
TIP, USG support will enhance GOP's on-going efforts. End
Note.)


D. DOES THE GOVERNMENT SUPPORT OTHER PROGRAMS TO PREVENT
TRAFFICKING? (E.G. TO PROMOTE WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN
ECONOMIC DECISION-MAKING OR EFFORTS TO KEEP CHILDREN IN
SCHOOL). PLEASE EXPLAIN. Yes, GOP sponsors a number of
programs through the Ministries of Health, Labor, Education,
and Youth, Women, Children and Family Affairs. These programs
range from increasing access to education for child workers,
anti-drug, HIV and Safe Sex awareness, and combating violence
against women. (Ref. G & N) NGOs and other international
organizations sponsor similar campaigns. (Ref. K)


E. IS THE GOVERNMENT ABLE TO SUPPORT PREVENTION PROGRAM?
Yes, but limited due to lack of funding.


F. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS,
NGOS, OTHER RELEVANT ORGANIZATIONS AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF
CIVIL SOCIETY ON TRAFFICKING ISSUE? Good. The GOP working
relations, especially through the PTJ Sex Crime Unit, with
the ILO/IPEC are good. Embassy believes enhanced focus on
prevention and victims assistance would improve effectiveness
of GOP and NGO efforts to combat TIP. USG-GOP relations are
outstanding on this issue. EmbOffs and Washington Reporting
Officers are granted immediate and unrestricted access to GOP
officials, including the opportunity to conduct "ride-alongs"
with PTJ sex crimes unit detectives.


G. DOES THE GOVERNMENT ADEQUATELY MONITOR ITS BORDERS? Yes.
DOES IT MONITOR IMMIGRATION AND EMIGRATION PATTERNS FOR
EVIDENCE OF TRAFFICKING? Yes. DO LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO SUCH EVIDENCE? Yes, the Immigration
Department continues to increase its efforts to stem the flow
of illegal migrants to and through Panama. While the vast
majority of those identified as illegal foreign sex workers
are not TIP victims, Immigration does track the number of sex
workers they deport. According to Immigration officials, of
the approximately 125 illegal foreign sex workers, all asked
for voluntary departure and did not claim to be TIP victims.
(Ref. L) DHS/ICE works closely with Panamanian Immigration
on detection and investigation of alien smuggling and TIP.
The SAN and SMN also conduct interdictions based on
intelligence received. The overwhelming majority of those
persons arrested are being voluntarily smuggled and not
trafficked.


H. IS THERE A MECHANISM FOR COORDINATION AND COMMUNICATION
BETWEEN VARIOUS AGENCIES, SUCH AS MULT-AGENCY WORKING GROUP
OR TASK FORCE? DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE A TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS TASK FORCE? There is no formal TIP task force. The
MFA conducts ad-hoc briefings with various GOP ministries
based on USG demarches and of its own initiative. Ministries
also work together on prevention, protection, and prosecution
on an ad-hoc basis. ILO/IPEC has published a report with
detailed information on which GOP agencies and NGOS are
working to combat commercial sexual exploitation of minors.
(Ref. P) DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE A PUBLIC CORRUPTION TASK
FORCE? No. GOP has an anti-corruption prosecutor and the
Ministry of Economics and Finance has an office to coordinate
anti-corruption efforts.


I. DOES THE GOVERNMENT COORDINATE OR PARTICIPATE IN
MULTINATIONAL OR INTERNATIONAL WORKING GROUPS OR EFFORTS TO
PREVENT, MONITOR, OR CONTROL TRAFFICKING? GOP coordinates
border control with neighboring countries through Immigration
and PNP. GOP and the Government of Colombia (GOC) have a
border security working group for Darien Province. GOP works
directly with the International Organization on Migration
(IOM) on alien smuggling and anti-TIP programs. PTJ and PNP
receive intelligence from Interpol on TIP cases. (NOTE:
Embassy believes GOP would support and participate actively
in any additional bi-lateral and/or regional working groups.
End Note.)


J. DOES THE GOVERNMENT HAVE A NATIONAL PLAN OF ACTION TO
ADDRESS TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS? GOP does not have published
national anti-TIP plan, however GOP, Legislature,
international organizations (ILO), and NGOs have a number of
proposals that if coordinated and formalized with their
on-going efforts to combat TIP would constitute a national
action plan. IF SO, WHICH AGENCIES WERE INVOLVED IN
DEVELOPING IT? District Attorneys, PTJ, Immigration, PNP,
Labor, Youth, Women, Children and Family Affairs, Legislature
WERE NGOS CONSULTED IN THE PROCESS? Yes. WHAT STEPS HAS THE
GOVERNMENT TAKEN TO DISSEMINATE THE ACTION PLAN? Proposed
legislation has been discussed in the press. The ILO action
plan reports are public documents. GOP should publicize
their efforts to combat TIP more.


K. IS THERE SOME ENTITY OR PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR DEVELOP
ANTI-TRAFFICKING PROGRAMS WITH THE GOVERNMENT? Given their
investigative and prosecution responsibilities, the PTJ and
the District Attorneys are the primary anti-TIP agencies
within the GOP. Immigration has strong role within the
context of border security and illegal migration. The
Ministries of Labor and Youth, Women, Children and Family
Affairs concentrate on efforts to combat commercial sexual
exploitation of children. MFA serves as a moderator and
brings together various GOP ministries to address current TIP
issues.


5. (SBU) Answers to checklist question 20


A. DOES THE COUNTRY HAVE A LAW SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITING
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS-BOTH FOR SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND
TRAFFICKING FOR NON-SEXUAL PURPOSES (E.G. FORCED LABOR)? Yes.
IF SO, WHAT IS THAT LAW? Section 310 and 310 (a) The law
makes it a punishable crime for those who traffick people, or
those who are part of an organization that trafficks people.
The law also makes punishable any intervention related to
trafficking involving fraud, or evading any immigration law
in pursuit of trafficking. A third law, Law 231, makes it a
crime to facilitate the entry or exit of a person to engage
in non-regulated prostitution, although it does not
specifically mention trafficking. Article 501 of the Family
Code and Article 215C of the penal code criminalize child
prostitution and child pornography. ARE THESE LAWS, TAKEN
TOGETHER, ADEQUATE TO COVER THE FULL SCOPE OF TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS? Yes. However, the laws need updating.
Investigations and prosecutions are hampered by the need for
a formal complaint to be filed in TIP-specific
investigations. Police officials need legal authorization to
be more aggressive in their investigations. The child
pornography laws needs to be updated to incorporate the wide
reaching effects of the Internet and to include harsher
penalties for TIP and child pornography.


A bill is currently before the legislature and with good
chances of passage would remedy most if not all of the
current shortcomings. Based on recent meetings between
EmbOffs and legislative leaders from two leading political
parties, it seems likely that an updated, tougher anti-TIP
and anti-child pornography legislation will pass during the
current legislative session. The legislation would increase
penalties for TIP, expand definitions of child pornography to
include Internet based crimes, and eliminate the need for a
formal complaint to initiate TIP-specific investigations.
(NOTE: Panamanian legislators proposed the new legislation
on their own initiative and not because of pressure from
EmbOffs. End Note.) Upon seeing G/TIP's model legislation,
Panamanian legislators agreed to incorporate as much as
possible into the pending bill. In addition, the GOP is
proposing a "cyber-police force" that would investigate child
pornography on the Internet. (Ref. F)


The Immigration Department is proposing eliminating the
"alternadora" visa for foreign sex workers. (NOTE: Contrary
to prior information given to Embassy, the alternadora is not
restricted to Colombians. However, the vast majority of
recipients are Colombians. This visa was established in the
1950s at the request of the USG. End Note.)


B. WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR TRAFFICKERS OF PEOPLE FOR
SEXUAL EXPLOITATION? FOR TRAFFICKERS OF PEOPLE FOR LABOR
EXPLOITATION? Law 310 sets the penalty at 10-15 years in
prison. Law 310 A sets it at 5-10 years. The different
penalties depend on the circumstances and severity of the
offense. Under Law 231, the penalty is 2 to 4 years and 6
years under more aggravated circumstances.


C. WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR RAPE OR FORCIBLE SEXUAL
ASSAULT? HOW DO THEY COMPARE TO THE PENALTY FOR SEX
TRAFFICKING? Under laws 216-218 of the penal code, rape is
punishable by 3 to 10 years under most circumstances, and 5
to 10 years under more serious circumstances.


D. HAS THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTED ANY CASES AGAINST
TRAFFICKERS? Yes. IF SO, PROVIDE NUMBER OF ARRESTS,
INDICTMENTS, CONVICTIONS, SENTENCES, INCLUDING DETAILS ON
PLEA BARGAINS AND FINES, IF RELEVANT AND AVAILABLE. In
2003-2004, the Sex Crimes Unit (PTJ) has completed six formal
investigations leading to 10 arrests for TIP-specific crimes,
more arrests are possible. Two cases (total of approximately
five adults) have been forwarded to the District Attorney
(Fiscal) for trial. Other cases are awaiting transfers to the
District Attorney. The Supreme Court recently rejected an
appeal of an infamous child prostitution ring leader Thonya
Hubbard and upheld her 76 months sentence. An associate
(Thanya Bedoya) was sentenced to 3 years and a
client/associate (Larry Pinto) was sentenced 2 years and 3
months. (Ref. F) Hubbard was convicted twice in separate
trials in 1999 and 2002. Bedoya was convicted in 1999 and
Pinto in 2002.


The PTJ has been conducting TIP-specific investigations since
1999. There were approximately 6 TIP specific investigations
before 2003. The Sex Crimes Unit has doubled the amount of
formal investigations since last year's TIP report. The unit
does conduct surveillance and intelligence gathering on TIP
but does not classify those operations as formal
investigations. As noted, the need for a formal complaint
prior to an investigation limits does has limiting effect.
(NOTE: The Panamanian judicial system is slow, inept and
often corrupt. While no evidence indicates corruption affects
TIP investigation, the overall nature of the system does slow
TIP prosecutions. End Note.)


Immigration, in conjunction with the District Attorneys and
the PNP, have kept a number of brothels (EL Ovalo, El Halcon,
El Buffalo) closed for several months based on complaints and
investigations. While no TIP victims were discovered,
Immigration kept the establishments closed for other
violations. Immigration fines brothels with illegal foreign
sex workers. (Ref. L) ARE THE TRAFFICKERS SERVING TIME
SENTENCED? Yes. IF NO, WHY NOT? PLEASE INDICATE WHETHER THE
GOVERNMENT CAN PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION, AND IF NOT, WHY NOT?
Government willingly provides all information.


E. IS THERE ANY INFORMATION OR REPORTS OF WHO IS BEHIND THE
TRAFFICKING? Yes, independent dance club and/or massage
parlor owners and, on occasion, persons with connections to
illegal drug trade ARE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS INVOLVED? No
hard evidence of government officials involved. There is one
third party, third country allegation of a GOP official
issuing visas and passports to women for alien smuggling and
TIP. (Ref. O) ARE THERE ANY REPORTS OF WHERE PROFITS FROM
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS ARE BEING CHANNELED? (E.G. ARMED
GROUPS, TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS, JUDGES, BANKS, ETC). Most
profits appear to go directly to traffickers. One child
prostitution ring had ties to drug traffickers.


F. DOES THE GOVERNMENT ACTIVELY INVESTIGATE CASE OF
TRAFFICKING? Yes, however PTJ Sex Crime Unit is limited by
law and must have formal complaint to investigate TIP cases.
Immigration and PNP have more freedom to investigate alien
smuggling, which may include TIP victims. (Ref. C) DOES THE
GOVERNMENT USE ACTIVE INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUES IN TRAFFICKING
IN PERSONS INVESTIGATIONS? Yes. TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE UNDER
DOMESTIC LAW, ARE TECHNIQUES SUCH AS ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE,
UNDERCOVER OPERATIONS, AND MITIGATED PUNISHMENT OR IMMUNITY
FOR COOPERATING SUSPECTS USED BY THE GOVERNMENT? Undercover
operations are primary tools. There are very strict
regulations for use of electronic surveillance. DOES THE
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE OR LAWS PROHIBIT THE POLICE FORM
ENGAGING IN COVERT OPERATIONS? No.


G. DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE ANY SPECIALIZED TRAINING FOR
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN HOW TO RECOGNIZE, INVESTIGATE, AND
PROSECUTE INSTANCES OF TRAFFICKING? GOP provides limited
internal training. Most training is provide by third parties.
DHS/ICE provided specialized training in May and September
2003 to GOP agencies on investigation and prosecution of
child pornography in Miami. (Ref. N) The Spanish government
has proposed additional legal training for the PTJ Sex Crimes
Unit this year.


H. DOES THE GOVERNMENT COOPERATE WITH OTHER GOVERNMENTS IN
THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKING CASES? Yes,
but depends on types of cases. The GOP recently cooperated
with the GOC on the take down of child prostitution ring in
Panama. (Ref. F) Some of the ring leaders were Colombians.
Immigration and MFA are very active with IOM programs to
combat alien smuggling and TIP. IF POSSIBLE, CAN POST
PROVIDE THE NUMBER OF COOPERATIVE INTERNATIONAL
INVESTIGATIONS ON TRAFFICKING? At the moment, there is no
additional data on cases other than that already listed.


I. DOES THE GOVERNMENT EXTRADITE PERSONS WHO ARE CHARGED
WITH TRAFFICKING IN OTHER COUNTRIES? No known extradition
requests DOES THE GOVERNMENT EXTRADITE ITS OWN NATIONALS
CHARGED WITH SUCH OFFENSES? No known extradition requests IF
NOT, IS THE GOVERNMENT PROHIBITED BY LAW FROM EXTRADITING ITS
OWN NATIONALS? Constitution prohibits extradition of
Panamanians.


J. IS THERE EVIDENCE OF GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT IN OR
TOLERANCE OF TRAFFICKING, ON A LOCAL OR INSTITUTION LEVEL?
No. As mentioned before, there are allegations that a
Panamanian consul is facilitating TIP related visa and/or
passport fraud. Embassy is confident GOP would welcome
evidence, if it could be found, and take appropriate action.
Corruption is systemic in Panama but no current evidence
indicates ties to TIP.


K. IF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE INVOLVED IN TRAFFICKING, WHAT
STEPS HAS THE GOVERNMENT TAKEN TO END SUCH PARTICIPATION?
Embassy is following up on report that GOP deported
diplomatic officials from a third-country for TIP and/or
alien smuggling. (Ref. O) HAVE ANY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
BEEN PROSECUTED FOR INVOLVEMENT TRAFFICKING OR TRAFFICKING
RELATED CORRUPTION? No GOP officials have been charged.


L. HAS THE GOVERNMENT SIGNED, RATIFIED, AND/OR TAKEN STEPS
TO IMPLEMENT THE FOLLOWING INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS? PLEASE
PROVIDE THE DATE OF SIGNATURE/RATIFICATION IF APPROPRIATE?


ILO CONVENTION 182: Ratified on June 15, 2000. Deposited in
Geneva on October 31, 2000
ILO CONVENTION 29: Ratified in 1930
ILO CONVENTION 105: Ratified in 1957
THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE
CHILD (CRC): Singed on October 31, 2000 and ratified on
February 9, 2001
THE PROTOCOL TO PREVENT, SUPPRESS AND PUNISH TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS, ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN, SUPPLEMENTING THE UN
CONVENTION AGAINST TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME: Panama
signed this convention on December 13, 2000 but has not yet
ratified it.


6. (SBU) Answers to checklist question 21


A. DOES THE GOVERNMENT ASSIST VICTIMS, FOR EXAMPLE, BY
PROVIDING TEMPORARY TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY STATUS, RELIEF
FROM DEPORTATION, SHELTER AND ACCESS TO LEGAL, MEDICAL, AND
PSYCHOLOGICAL SERVICES? IF SO, PLEASE EXPLAIN. Access to
legal, medical, and psychological services are available.
PTJ has a crime victims assistance center at PTJ headquarters
in Panama City. Service coordination is available at this
center. These services are not specifically focused on TIP
victims but are designed to provide more generalized victims
assistance. MFA is proposing, in cooperation with IOM, the
creation of shelter for victims of alien smuggling and TIP.
This shelter and its services will be based on local NGO Casa
Esperanza (see para 5(I)). Immigration coordinates referrals
to hospitals and NGOs for scheduled deportees who claim to be
victims of abuse and TIP. (Ref. L) DOES THE COUNTRY HAVE
VICTIM CARE AND VICTIM HEALTH CARE FACILITIES? PTJ center
coordinates victim referrals to these services. Some
hospitals and clinics have medical staff trained to treat
rape and other sexual assault victims. TIP-specific training
would be beneficial. IF SO, CAN POST PROVIDE THE NUMBER OF
VICTIMS PLACED IN THESE CARE FACILITIES? Statistics are not
tracked for TIP victims specifically. ARE TRAFFICKING
VICTIMS OFFERED HIV/AIDS SCREENING OR OTHERWISE TESTED FOR
HIV/AIDS? IF SO, WHAT ARE THE RESULTS? HIV/AIDS screening is
offered but on a broader basis both to rape and sexual
assault victims and to sex workers. HIV/AIDS screenings are
required and provided by the Ministry of Health for
registered sex workers. (Ref. M)


B. DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE FUNDING OR OTHER FORMS OF
SUPPORT TO FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC NGOS FOR SERVICES FOR VICTIMS?
PLEASE EXPLAIN. There is no direct financial support of NGOs
by government.


C. IS THERE A SCREENING AND REFERRAL PROCESS IN PLACE, WHEN
APPROPRIATE, TO TRANSFER VICTIMS DETAINED, ARRESTED OR PLACED
IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES TO NGO'S
THAT PROVIDE SHORT OR LONG TERM CARE? The PTJ center
coordinates victims assistance. There is no formal and
publicized procedure specifically related to TIP victims and
NGOS. Most victims assistance is coordinated through the Sex
Crimes Unit. Those NGOS that work with victims (adult and
minors) of sexual abuse and assault are well known and law
enforcement authorities can make referrals on ad-hoc basis.
The services are available, but better coordination and
publicity about victims assistance is needed.


D. ARE THE RIGHTS OF VICTIMS RESPECTED OR ARE VICTIMS
TREATED AS CRIMINALS? Victims are not treated as criminals;
their rights are respected. ARE VICTIMS DETAINED, JAILED OR
DEPORTED? Victims are not usually jailed. A small portion of
deported sex workers who are held in custody may have been
TIP victims, although none claimed to be. Enhanced victim
identification training would be useful. IF DETAINED OR
JAILED, FOR HOW LONG? Most victims are not detained. If they
committed another crime or are awaiting deportation, then the
jail time will vary depending on the circumstances. ARE
VICTIMS FINED? Not unless they are found guilty of a crime.
ARE VICTIMS PROSECUTED FOR VIOLATIONS OF OTHER LAWS, SUCH AS
THOSE GOVERNING IMMIGRATION OR PROSTITUTION? As stated, there
may be small percentage of undocumented sex workers
(primarily Colombians, with smaller percentage of Dominicans)
who could TIP victims. Because of their illegal work status,
they can be charged with immigration and labor violations.
According to GOP, almost all ask for voluntary departure.


E. DOES THE GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGE VICTIMS TO ASSIST IN THE
INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS? Yes, victim
participation is crucial. PTJ and other law enforcement need
a formal complaint to initiate active investigation and
prosecutions. Embassy is working with GOP to establish a
victims hotline to further assist investigations and victims
assistance. MAY VICTIMS FILE CIVIL SUITS OR SEEK LEGAL
ACTIONS AGAINST THE TRAFFICKERS? Yes. DOES ANYONE IMPEDE
THE VICTIMS' ACCESS TO SUCH LEGAL REDRESS? Like the United
States, civil court cases can be a lengthy and expensive
process. IF VICTIMS ARE MATERIAL WITNESSES IN A COURT CASE
AGAINST THE FORMER EMPLOYER, IS THE VICTIM PERMITTED TO
OBTAIN OTHER EMPLOYMENT OR LEAVE THE COUNTRY? They are
permitted to leave country. If they have legal status to
work, they can seek other employment. IS THERE A VICTIM
RESTITUTION PROGRAM? No.


F. WHAT KIND OF PROTECTION IS THE GOVERNMENT ABLE TO PROVIDE
FOR VICTIMS AND WITNESSES? Identity of victims are not
revealed. There is not a witness protection program. DOES IT
PROVIDE THESE PROTECTIONS IN PRACTICE? Yes


G. DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE ANY SPECIALIZED TRAINING FOR
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN RECOGNIZING TRAFFICKING AND IN
PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE TO TRAFFICKING VICTIMS, INCLUDING THE
SPECIAL NEEDS OF TRAFFICKED CHILDREN? GOP has limited
internal training but approximately 20-30 GOP officials from
seven different ministries have received training from 3rd
parties in Panama and abroad. Ad hoc training is provided by
DHS/ICE officials to Customs and Labor inspectors on forced
child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation and
child pornography. DHS/ICE officials at Panama international
airport provide informal training to Immigration officials on
identification of potential TIP victims entering country.
GOP sent six officials from the MFA, PNP, and Immigration to
specialized TIP training in Bogota this year. In February
2003, the head of Immigration, an assistant district attorney
and a Panamanian journalist all attended Washington, D.C. TIP
conference. (Ref. Q) Embassy, with G/TIP support, will
provide training from the Paul and Lisa Project in April 2004
to approximately 40-50 professionals from the PNP, PTJ,
Immigration, Fiscales Courts, Labor, MFA, Customs, Youth,
Women, Children and Family Affairs, ILO/IPEC, NGOs, and
members of the local press. (Ref. C, N) Department of
Justice (DOJ) is scheduled to provide training to GOP
officials in October 2004. DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE
TRAINING ON PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO ITS EMBASSIES AND
CONSULATES IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES THAT ARE DESTINATION OR
TRANSIT COUNTRIES? Panama is not a country of origin for TIP
victims. DOES GOVERNMENT URGE THOSE EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES
TO DEVELOP ONGOING RELATIONSHIPS WITH NGOS THAT SERVE
TRAFFICKED VICTIMS?
N/A, see above


H. DOES THE GOVERNMENT PROVIDE ASSISTANCE, SUCH AS MEDICAL
AID, SHELTER, OR FINANCIAL HELP, TO ITS REPATRIATED NATIONALS
WHO ARE VICTIMS OF TRAFFICKING? N/A, Panama is not a country
of origin.


I. WHICH NGOS, IF ANY, WORK WITH TRAFFICKED VICTIMS?
ILO/IPEC (commercial sexual exploitation of minors) and Nueva
Era en Salud (Sex Workers/Public Health). The following NGOs
do not have specific programs for TIP victims only but
sponsor victim assistance programs. Casa Esperanza
(education/housing/nutrition for minors), Hogar Luisa McGrath
(victims of incest/rape), Mujeres Coloneses en Camino
(women's assistance programs). There are a number of other
NGOs with similar programs. WHAT TYPE OF SERVICES DO THEY
PROVIDE? WHAT SORT OF COOPERATION DO THEY RECEIVE FROM LOCAL
AUTHORITIES? Education, nutrition, health services and
shelter. Many provide counseling programs. The GOP does not
financially support these NGOS. The government cooperates
with their missions but a combined and more structured
GOP/NGO victims referral system would improve TIP victim
assistance.


7. (U) Embassy point of contact for TIP issues is Political
Officer John McIntyre (507) 207-7183, (F) 507-207-7418. Time
spent preparing this report: 60 hours. Members of Embassy
TIP working group spent between 2-10 hours reviewing this
report.


-------
COMMENT
-------
8. (SBU) Panama, like the vast majority of nations
(including the United States), suffers the ill effects of
TIP. While the magnitude of the problem is not nearly equal
to that of familial sex abuse, violence against women and
children, and drug abuse, the GOP has recognized that TIP
must be addressed aggressively. Like any nation with limited
resources, there are a number of areas where efforts to
combat TIP could be improved. As noted in Reftel (C),
improved training, increased victims assistance, and better
laws are needed. The GOP's ongoing efforts to combat TIP can
be enhanced by USG material support and expertise. The GOP
is already a willing partner in USG efforts to stem the drug
trade, money-laundering, and alien smuggling. With better
coordination of their efforts, the GOP and NGOs can ensure
that Panama's TIP problem is a short term anomaly rather than
a long term and growing blight.


WATT

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