• Panama Human Rights

La Palma prison was closed 2 years prior to Mr Tuffney’s arrival. The reason for the closure:

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

Ombudsman head Office Central Panama:

We see from your government website that you investigate the conditions in La Palma Jail where Mr Tuffney was subjected to torture and ill-treatment whilst under your watch, despite Mr Tuffney delivering a personal letter via his attorney to your offices, Mr Tuffney is still waiting for a response for the suffering that happened to him whilst in the Darien jail.

Now Mr Tuffney can’t be wrong about the abuses when you read the ombudsman reports below damning the government on the conditions in the La Palma Jail…..

Below is the Prison Mr Tuffney was held in whilst being tortured.


The below blogs from the Panamanian’s human rights website ( Defensora del Pueblo)  damming the government for the conditions,  yet you, Liliana, and this government did nothing, being your department has no power, or authority under this government. What is the purpose of having an ombudsman that cannot serve the public benefit?



The Ombudsman, Lilia Herrera Mow, accompanied the staff of the organisation, conducted an intense work tour in the province of Darien where she met with various provincial authorities in order to learn about the different needs facing this region of the country.

We at Panama Human Rights would like to know why the Panama prison system does not provide a basic uniform to a new International prisoner who arrives in prison and find it extremely hard with no family around to support them, most leave La Joya in the same clothes they arrived in 6 years later, their shoes have worn away over time leaving them with no other choice but to make their own shoes.


During the development of this activity, the Ombudsman visited the public prison in La Palma, where he noted the various needs that come across the criminal population that is in the same; among them are the lack of ventilation and lighting, poor bathroom conditions, lack of hygiene, among others.


The Ombudsman of the Darién Regional People delivered personal belongings (toothpaste, bath soap, toilet paper, toothbrush, etc.) to 28 deprived persons who are in the Preventive of La Palma, in commemoration to the detainee's day.

In addition to this activity and as part of this celebration the Pastoral Penitentiary, held a Mass and lunch with the prisoners.

The prisoners were also informed of the response issued by the Minister of Government, Milton Henriquez, regarding complaint Number. D-892-14, concerning the construction of a Public Prison in the province of Darién.

In that sense, they were informed that by 2015, within the budget presented to the Ministry of Economy and Finance has contemplated the construction of a jail in this province, in order to prevent those deprived of liberty in this region of the country be transferred to other prisons because at present there is no adequate infrastructure that can provide this service.


A high level of overcrowding in the prison cell in La Palma was detected by the Ombudsman's staff through its Regional Office in Darien.

During an inspection at this site, it was known that the preemptive cell built to house ten people currently has 27 people inside it, of these 26 are men and 1 lady, all under the direction of the Darien Circuit Prosecutor.

Likewise, it was known that 10 of these prisoners will be transferred to the jails of La Joya and La Joyita in Panama City.

When talking with the prisoners, they informed me that the food is not well cooked, so they request to improve their quality.

In this regard, those deprived of liberty were informed that the Ombudsman's Office processes complaint D-892-14, submitted by the relatives and deprived of their liberty in the province of Darién, where they seek to ensure that the Penitentiary System complies with what it establishes in Law No. 55 of July 30, 2003, which reorganises the Penitentiary System.

It should be noted that the National Border Service currently constructs four preventive cells, three for men and one for women, with a capacity for 12 people each, where it seeks to improve the conditions of the detainees, before being transferred to prisons of the Jewel and the Joyita in Panama.


Faced with the overcrowding and poor conditions in the Preventive Cell of the district of La Palma, Province of Darien, the 25 deprived of freedom that they are requested in meeting with the Defensoría del Pueblo its transfer to the 4 cells that were already constructed and are in better condition.

According to those deprived of liberty, the measure would be worthwhile that they wait for their respective hearings to be held since the conditions in which they find are not the most optimal for their health.

In this regard, the Office of the Ombudsman informed the prisoners that there is an open complaint about this situation; however, it will proceed to do the proceedings before the National Border Service to know when the new cells can be used.

Likewise, it was announced to those deprived of liberty that the Ministry of Government has contemplated for this year the beginning of the jail in the province of Darién.

Civilians protesting in Panama City over torture, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners in the Republic of Panamá.



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