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Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, on a Communication Procedure
Violence44.9. Percent of children under 14 years experienced some form of violent discipline in 2013. Corporal Punishment and domestic violence.
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care and schools.
Overview of the child rights situation

The report from Panama shows that much remains to be done before the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is implemented. One problem is that many adults see children as violent, so society needs to be protected from them, not as rights holders. In addition, resettlement of indigenous populations has occurred without considering whether it is in the best interest of the children. Indigenous children additionally often do not have access to culturally sensitive health services in their language. Often there is no basic sanitation or clean drinking water in areas where indigenous people live.

Situation of intersexual and transsexual childrenTrans and intersexual children are underprivileged.
Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee recommends to raise awareness on the harmful effects of the practice of cohabitation between girls and older men, and especially of early pregnancies and their repercussions, on the physical and mental health and well-being of girls. It also recommends to investigate the possible existence of female genital mutilation in its indigenous population in the border area with the Colombian coast and — if the findings prove the existence of this practice on the territory of the State party — take the necessary measures to end the practice.

Concerning reproductive health, the Committee recommends to adopt a comprehensive gender-sensitive communication strategy on sexual and reproductive health targeting adolescents, parents and society at large, and provide free, confidential, adolescent-responsive and non-discriminatory information on sexuality and reproduction, both online and in person, paying special attention to preventing early pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The State party should further decriminalize abortion in all cases, ensure that girls have access to safe abortion and post-abortion services, and review legislation to safeguard the best interests of pregnant girls and ensure that their views are always heard and are given due consideration in abortion-related decisions.

Racism, children belonging to a minority and indigenous childrenThe Committee is seriously concerned at discrimination by police and other security forces against Afro-Panamanian children living in marginalized urban neighbourhoods, who are wrongly perceived as potential delinquents, as a result of such measures as curfews for children and mass media campaigns linking adolescents to alleged increases in criminality.
Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee recommends that the State party reinforce measures to develop inclusive education, including by allocating adequate financial resources for their implementation, increasing the number of trained and assigned specialized teachers and professionals in inclusive classes in rural and indigenous areas, and ensuring that inclusive education is given priority over the placement of children in specialized institutions and classes. It also recommends that Panama strengthen efforts to grant all children with disabilities access to adequate housing, guaranteeing physical safety, adequate space, protection against threats to health and against structural hazards, including cold, damp, heat and pollution, and accessibility.
Panama should also take immediate measures to ensure that children with disabilities throughout the country have access to appropriate health care, including to early detection and intervention programmes and to social services. In addition, the State party should undertake awareness-raising campaigns aimed at government officials, the public and families to combat stigmatization of and prejudice against children with disabilities, and promote a positive image of such children as well as develop family support mechanisms to enable families to help children with disabilities to exercise their rights, including mechanisms addressing women in detention who are responsible for children with disabilities.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee recommends that the State party ensure the effective participation of migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children in all decisions that concern them, take all necessary measures to avoid immigration detention of children and guarantee that the best interests of the child are taken as a primary consideration in immigration law, in the planning, implementation and assessment of migration policies, and in decision-making in individual cases, in particular with respect to non-refoulement obligations. Panama should also take measures to ensure that asylum-seeking and refugee children have access to education, including by granting them access to the Beca Universal and develop campaigns to counter hate speech against asylum seekers and refugees, particularly children.
Free kindergartenNot clear
Free primary and secondary schoolNo
Digital possibilitiesThe Committee recommends that Panama guarantee full public disclosure of the environmental, health-related and human rights impacts of planned projects and activities, as well as of plans to address such impacts, and ensure consistent consideration of the results of environmental impact assessments of investment projects.
physical health

To guarantee every child the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends that the State party reinforce measures to guarantee access to quality health care in regions and communities with the lowest coverage in order to redress the sharp inequalities in health standards, including by ensuring that indigenous children have access to culturally sensitive health services in their language. It also recommends to strengthen efforts to provide prenatal and postnatal care to address the high rates of mortality of infants and children aged 5 years and younger, and the still high maternal mortality rates. Panama should also take specific measures to disseminate information on and guarantee access to special services for children affected by the Zika infection in all regions of the country, and to avoid discrimination against them as well as regularly monitor and assess the effectiveness of policies and programmes on child food security and nutrition, including school meal programmes and initiatives promoting access to safe drinking water, and promote initiatives targeting indigenous peoples.

Relation to other countries
Business sector

The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to prevent evictions and displacement of indigenous families and children, ensure that the policies, projects and practices on development and governance of land, including those which may entail relocation, are in line with relevant international standards and provide redress to those families and children evicted or displaced from their lands, including those affected by construction of the Barro Blanco Dam on the Tabasará River. It also recommends to establish a clear regulatory framework for electric, mining, agro-industrial, tourism and other investment projects, banks and companies operating in the State party, as well as for Panamanian companies operating abroad, to ensure that their activities do not negatively affect children’s rights or endanger environmental and other standards.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee expresses serious concern at the absence of measures taken by the State party to reinstate the provision that forbids the extension of pretrial detention.
To improve the situation, the Committee urges the State party to bring its juvenile justice system fully into line with the Convention and other relevant standards. In particular, the Committee strongly recommends that the State party reintroduce the provision that forbids the extension of pretrial detention without exceptions and guarantee children in conflict with the law access to qualified and independent legal aid from an early stage and throughout the legal proceedings.

Specific observations

The Committee recommends that the State party re-establish the authorization to form student groups in order to grant adolescents the right to peaceful assembly.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the fifth and sixth periodic reports released on 28 February 2018. More information about education in Panama:

Last Updated (date)22nd of February, 2022