82% of Panamanians feel that the country is insecure

  • Policía Nacional de Panamá

The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), presented the results of the 5th Survey of Victimization and Social Perception and the Citizen Security Index for 2017, which show that 82% of respondents said that the country is unsafe, while 33% justify the use of violence in specific cases such as self-defense, helping a relative and protecting property and assets, said EFE.

Citizen perception of the scourge of insecurity in Panama increased 12 percentage points, taking into account the fourth measurement of 2016, which placed it 70%.

The study was conducted by the Observatory on Citizen Security (CSO) and the polling company Ipsos and was supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). A total of 1,006 people were surveyed in different provinces of Panama, 16%  said to have been the victim of insecurity, 80% were harmed once and 20% repeatedly, said EFE.

The opinion poll also found that the most common crimes were robbery (41%), theft (35%), personal injury (15%) and homicide (8%).

The data of the 2016 study showed that the most frequent crimes were theft (51%), robbery (28%), beatings or aggression (13%) and the murder of a relative (9%), according to EFE.

Domingo Latorraca, spokesman for the Observatory on Citizen Security of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), said that the opinion poll suggests that "the figures of perception of insecurity show a slight deterioration nationwide," said EFE.

Varela’s government security plans

The issue of security in Panama has been one of the most difficult challenges for the current government, but several devices have been applied in an effort to curb criminal incidence, as was the "Safe Neighborhood" program in the first place. Although the program failed to show the expected results as reported by local media, it sought to reduce violence in young people living in the most important neighborhoods of the country.

In 2017, Varela’s government activated the Joint Task Force Águila to fight organized crime and drug trafficking, and trained 1,330 new agents of the National Police, to provide greater security.

The Panamanian president also created an alliance with the United States to fight drug trafficking that comes from Colombia and whose main client is the United States and signed an agreement with Mexico to strengthen the control of travelers between both countries and avoid mobilizations for illegal purposes.

Minister of Public Security Alexis Bethancourt reported in January 2018, that Panama closed 2017 with a homicide rate of 9.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, and highlighted that the government's goal is to reduce it to 7 this year and bring it to 5 in 2019, according to reports of Efe.

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