The Panamanian government on Monday rejected accusations of alleged human rights violations against migrants crossing Panama through the dangerous Darien jungle on their way to the United States.
Over the weekend, the Spanish newspaper El País published a note stating that the UN sent a document to the government of the isthmus detailing allegations of alleged rapes of women and girls by border officials. In addition, it is mentioned that migrants perform forced labor in order to obtain the means to pay for the trip to Costa Rica.
“The national government rejects in the most energetic way the accusations that try to distort the humanitarian work that the Panamanian entities (…) carry out in favor of the care of migrants who enter through the Colombian-Panamanian border”, reported the Ministry of Public Security.
In a statement dated Monday, the entity added that, in previous complaints made by migrants, the participation of Panamanian officials in human rights violations was not mentioned, but clarified that if the allegations are confirmed “the government will carry out the investigations pertinent until the last consequences”.
Last year, a record 248,000 migrants traversed the Darien Gap – one of the most impassable and dangerous regions in Latin America – on their way to the United States. Most of them are Venezuelans fleeing the crisis in their country.
Panama assures that it is making great efforts to address the migration crisis and that it has been forced to request international support in recent years due to the growing flow of foreigners from South America, and to deal with transnational organized crime networks.
In a explanatory statement, the UN specified that the complaints are part of a letter of allegations issued by various special procedures of the Human Rights Council that includes independent experts and rapporteurs. The complaints were filed on December 9 of last year.
“In these letters (…) they normally present the allegations received from different sources and request eventual clarifications from the States themselves regarding the complaints of alleged human rights violations received,” the agency said without offering further details.