President of Panama calls for speed in investigation into alleged abuse against minors in shelters

Editorial Dept. Voz de la Diaspora

President of Panama, Laurentino Cortizo called for strong sanctions against those involved in a case of alleged sexual abuse and mistreatment against minors in some shelters supervised by the State.

“The perpetrators responsible for crimes committed against the rights of girls, children and adolescents must be punished with the maximum rigor of the law, unceremoniously ... ", assured the president that he sees the case with "pain and indignation".

Cortizo argued that given the seriousness of the complaints, beyond the corresponding instances clarifying the facts, identify the authors, determine responsibilities and apply "drastic sanctions" contemplated by Panamanian legislation, it is urgent to strengthen the comprehensive protection of children.

The Panamanian president offered a brief message to the nation in the midst of the scandal that unleashed a legislative report in which a subcommission of the National Assembly worked for several months that documents the alleged cases of abuse against minors that occurred in some 14 shelters in different parts of the country.

The complaints led to an ex officio investigation at the Public Ministry where the full report was presented, consisting of some 700 pages.

Cortizo said that given the seriousness of the case, he instructed the Ministry of Social Development (MEASURES) to present in the next 15 days a bill to increase penalties for crimes of sexual abuse against minors, and requested an audit of the subsidies granted by the State to non-governmental organizations, and foundations for the administration of shelters.

"They will be rigorously audited and supervised" because they are public resources intended for the protection of children, added the ruler.

On the eve of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescence and Family (SENATE) confirmed the closing of 8 shelters in which "irregularities" were found registered in the current administration of the government that began in July 2019.

Nowadays, about 50 shelters cater to some 1,200 minors including orphans, and at social risk, added the Secretariat.