A protest in front of SENNIAF offices in Panama City.
Childhood and the rule of law
by the Fundacion Libertad
At the Fundación Libertad we repudiate the chain of physical, psychological and sexual abuses that have been reported in shelters for children and young people at social risk, under the very nose of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family.
Not only do we have a failed state in terms of respect for the rule of law and constitutional freedoms, but we have also failed our most vulnerable population in the most cruel ways: our children.
The protection of minors and their rights is a government function. However, Panama lacks a system of guarantees and protection that allows children and adolescents in our country to be, in effect, subjects of law with all of the protections that the law grants them.
From a liberal perspective, we consider it urgent to organize the legal framework for the protection of children and adolescents. This includes a comprehensive and scientific sexual education law, as well as the depoliticization of SENNIAF to guarantee the appointment of suitable technical personnel, and efficient use of resources at all levels to meet the needs to protect the most vulnerable children. Likewise, we demand greater control of the institutions that provide auxiliary services to these state entities and that effective filters and audits be applied to prevent the entry of predators into the system. As citizens, first and foremost, we want justice for these children. These abuses are not nw, which shows the low priority that has historically been given to the protection of children.
Now we hear that not only are the hearings for this case scheduled for the year 2023, but Attorney General Ulloa has washed his hands, leaving the job to a successor. This is an insult to these victims and their rights, as well as to all Panamanians who see ourselves reflected in those children. We demand justice, and they give us re-victimization and uncertainty.
As long as those authorities with jurisdiction do not monitor the shelters with the same zeal with which they monitor restaurants and beaches, Panamanian children will continue to be at the mercy of the indifference, ineptitude and discretion of the courts, which condemn them to a system where they are placed in the custody of untrained personnel – in the best cases — or, as we have seen, in the hands of predators.
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