Last Updated: Tuesday, 01 December 2015, 13:36 GMT

Panama: Information on the protection available to victims of domestic violence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 November 1995
Citation / Document Symbol PAN22223.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Panama: Information on the protection available to victims of domestic violence, 1 November 1995, PAN22223.E, available at: [accessed 2 December 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


The attached article discusses proposed reforms to legislation in Panama that would modify penalties for sexual assault and abuse, referring also to the recent situation of victims of domestic sexual abuse (IPS 8 May 1995). As indicated below, the bill was approved and went into effect in June 1995.

Also attached, please find a listing of Panamanian women's organizations. Please note that the telephone numbers listed in the directory are not current, as Panama has moved to a seven-digit system.

A researcher at the office of the Centro de la Mujer Contra el Maltrato (Women's Centre Against Abuse) provided the information that follows (15 Nov. 1995). The Centre is directed by the Honourable Legislator Gloria Young, an advocate of women's rights who promoted the new legislation mentioned above.

Law No. 27 on family violence (de violencia intrafamiliar) of 16 June 1995 modified and established new penalties for cases of family violence. It also established specialized facilities (dependencias especializadas) called Corregidurias to deal with cases of family violence. These establishments have been in operation since June 1995.

The new law gives broad assistance and intervention power to the Corregidurias and family courts to deal with cases of domestic and spousal abuse. The police can also intervene directly in cases of domestic abuse when these are reported. The new law also provides jail terms for persons who, knowing of an instance of domestic or sexual abuse, do not report it to the police or other pertinent authority. Those who fail to report the crime are considered accomplices to the crime by the new legislation, even if they are not part of the affected household or family.

Although there are no temporary shelters for abused women in place, the Women's Centre Against Abuse and other groups are working to establish some, and a fund drive to finance the project is currently under way. The Centre, and to a lesser degree other organizations, provide legal, social, psychiatric and self-help assistance, as well as gynaecological and drug counselling (the latter through the self-help group Narcoticos Anónimos). During the period January through September 1995 the Centre assisted 2,439 persons, accounting for a total of 4,340 instances of help (such as individual counselling or medical assistance) for those persons.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


International Press Service (IPS). 8 May 1995. Silvio Hernandez. "Panama: Sex Crimes Under Fire in Panamanian Parliament." (NEXIS)

Centro de la Mujer Contra el Maltrato, Panama City. 15 November 1995. Telephone interview with research assistant.


International Press Service (IPS). 8 May 1995. Silvio Hernandez. "Panama: Sex Crimes Under Fire in Panamanian Parliament." (NEXIS)

Encyclopedia of Women's Associations Worldwide. 1993. Edited by Jacqueline K. Barrett. London: Gale Research International, pp. 137-38.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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