- BBC Mundo
Talking about crimes involving human trafficking in Panama is an old-fashioned daily event. In fact, in Panama, trafficking is recognized as a crime since 2011 thanks to the approval of Law 79.
Due to its geographical location, Panama is a country "of origin, transit and destination for men, women and children subject to sex trafficking and forced labor", according to statements released by the United States Embassy in Panama in 2016. "In Panama, the majority of identified victims are foreign adults exploited in sexual trafficking, especially women from Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua."
The government has engaged in several and continuous efforts; however, there are still daily events that question the effectiveness of the efforts.
In June 2017, the National Commission against Human Trafficking planned to develop a project called "National Plan against Human Trafficking for the period 2017-2022" whose objective was to advance and legalize the Action Protocol of the Unit for Identification and Assistance of Victims of Human Trafficking and the Model for Identification and Assistance to Victims of Human Trafficking.
The figures are alarming, according to the Mesoamerica Program. Only in 2016, "more than 8,800 victims of human trafficking were detected" in the region.
The methods of abuse are broad, regardless of sex or age and include, according to the North American diplomatic entity based in the Central American country, "promises of good jobs and high salaries in the domestic service industries and restaurants, as well as for modeling and prostitution but then victims are exploited in sex trafficking or to a lesser degree in domestic servitude. Nicaraguan men, and to a lesser degree, Colombians, are subject to labor trafficking in the areas of construction, agriculture, mining and other sectors. Most victims of labor trafficking come from Nicaragua by bus and enter Panama through Costa Rica."
The United Nations (UN) with headquarters in New York, United States, estimates that trafficking is an illegal activity that moves annually 32,000 million dollars worldwide, only behind drug trafficking, and 70 percent of its victims are women.
According to EFE, this March 26, an Ecuadorian citizen was arrested in the Darién jungle, for alleged illegal trafficking of migrants, to whom he charged the amount of $ 65 per person with the promise of helping them cross the border, but he disappeared with the money.
The National Border Service of Panama (Senafront) explained in a statement that the detainee, whose identity was not released, deceived at least a score of immigrants trying to enter Panama through the natural border between Panama and Colombia.
Meanwhile, by 2016, "the victim protection measures remained seriously inadequate; the government did not allocate funds to its trafficking assistance fund, and most of the identified victims received no services other than an initial medical evaluation. The government condemned fewer traffickers and the lack of coordination among the ministries, and limited resources hindered the effectiveness of the National Commission against Trafficking" according to the document released by the American Embassy in Panama.
Law 79 is intended to "adopt measures for the prevention of victimization and re-victimization and the protection and assistance to victims and possible Panamanian or foreign victims of human trafficking in national territory or transferred to the national territory and Panamanian victims abroad, guaranteeing respect for human rights, as well as for the criminalization of human trafficking and related activities and the strengthening of State security policies and actions against these punishable acts".