Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Panama: Update to PAN2223.E of 16 November 1995 on 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 3 March 2000
Citation / Document Symbol PAN33919.E
Reference 1
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Panama: Update to PAN2223.E of 16 November 1995 on protection available to victims of domestic violence, 3 March 2000, PAN33919.E, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
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.

Country Reports 1999 reported the following on the domestic violence in Panama:

Domestic violence against women continued to be a serious problem. The Center for the Development of the Woman estimated that victims report asfew as 20 percent of sexual assaults to judicial or law enforcement authorities. However, statistics indicate a greater willingness by women to report incidents of abuse. The PTJ [Judicial Technical Police] registered 959 cases of domestic violence through August, compared with 582 through August 1998 and only 35 for all of 1997. The PTJ also registered 514 cases of rape and 135 cases of attempted rape. The Foundation for the Promotion of the Woman, among other women's advocacy groups and government agencies, operated programs to assist victims of abuse, and to educate women on their legal rights. The 1995 Family Code criminalized family violence, including psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, although convictions are rare unless a death occurs. A widely acknowledged characteristic of rape is that it frequently occurs in the home (Feb. 2000).

In her Report of the Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Radhika Coomaraswamy reported that Panama had not developed a national plan to curb violence against women and regretted that the government had failed to train criminal justice staff with regards to the issue (10 Mar. 1999).

In response to a question related to increased involvement of the courts in combating the problem of domestic violence, Panama's Minster of Youth, Women and Family, Leonor Calderón, stated the following to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in June 1998:

The Government had concentrated on making the problem [domestic violence] more visible as a way of counteracting it. Progress in protecting minors included new legislation that strengthened the ability to prosecute even those suspected of abusing children. Through a family law, domestic violence was denounced, but out of more than 1,000 cases of domestic violence last year, only 28 were sanctioned by the courts (30 June 1998).

Calderón was later cited in a Critíca report as saying that while the prevalence of domestic violence had not increased in the country, the number of complaints of domestic violence had increased because of women'sincreasing awareness of laws and agencies that were in place to protect them (19 Jan. 1999).

A shelter for victims of family violence called Nueva Vida (New Life) opened its doors in January 1999 (Critíca 10 Jan. 1999). The new shelter, which was established as a result of legal considerations outlined in the Family Violence Law, consisted of three tower blocks and would offer a series of services for victims of family violence, including social and legal counselling (ibid.).

El Panamá América reported that victims of domestic violence need to present their case at any health centre or office dealing with protecting abused women and children (4 May 1998). The article did not specifically mention which agencies deal with domestic violence.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate 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. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. February 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. < human_rights/1999_hrp_report/panama.html> [Accessed on 2 Mar. 2000]

Critíca [Panama City]. 19 January 1999. Berta Vega Chiriquí. "Violencia intrafamiliar no ha aumentado, señala Ministra." [Accessed 2 Mar. 2000]

_____. 10 January 1999. "Entregan a ministerio albergue Nueva Vida para tratar maltratos intrafamiliar." [Accessed 2 Mar. 2000]

El Panamá América [Panama City]. 4 May 1998. Eva María Gutiérrez. "Violencia intrafamiliar en el área de Panamá Oeste." [Accessed on 2 Mar. 1998]

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. 30 June 1998. "Women's Anti-Discrimination Committee Takes Up Panama's Report." [Accessed on 2 Mar. 2000]

UN Economic and Social Council. 10 March 1999. Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/85. [Accessed on 2 Mar. 1999]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (CLADEM)

Fempress [Santiago]. Search Engine. 1999-2000.

La Nación [San José]. 1996-2000.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

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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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