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  • Writer's picturePanama Human Rights

Warning: Investors, tourists & retirees do not insult Panama whilst in the state; Deported for life.

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

Under a new immigration law being passed in 2019, you could be deported for life, plus a fine!

Lawmaker Zulay Rodríguez 's proposal to reform immigration legislation has ignited a heated debate, which demonstrates the need to reform Panamanian politics than the urgency of correcting immigration regulations.

The move seeks to include foreigners benefitted by extraordinary regularization processes in a rigid system of controls, fines, and finally deportation. It includes a proposal to deport foreigners who insult Panamanian nationality.

Although parts of the project may clash with the Panamanian Constitution and international conventions, this has not mattered to the 25,743 signers on the Internet who offered their support to the project.

In this way, Panama enters the same scenario from Hungary to the United States: to be wary of foreigners reports La Prensa.


Since the Political Constitution of 1941, which established prohibited migration races and deprived foreigners of civil rights, Panama had not faced such an intense controversy over a migratory legal norm, so far by the proposal presented by the lawyer and deputy vice-president of the National Assembly, Zulay Rodríguez and Rodrigo Noriega.

The eight-page document has an explanatory statement that promised more than the 21-article proposal contains.

The first thing to say is that the article lacks legal systematics, since the usual when enunciating modifications to existing law is to follow the numerical order of the norm that is intended to be modified. In this proposal, the articles that modify Decree Law 3 of 2008 organized by the National Migration Service jump from major to minor without a clear order. It also repeats unnecessarily the articles to repeal the executive decrees that supported the regularization of migration.

The proposal seeks to fill a "void" referring specifically to foreigners who benefitted from massive regularization processes. Although it includes rules applicable to all foreigners residing in Panama, its main focus is those regulated by the Martinelli and Varela administrations.

The project contains some innocuous modifications, others more worrisome, and some specifically contrary to the Political Constitution and International human rights conventions of which Panama is a signatory.

An example of this is: "Those foreigners who publicly express offences and insults to the Panamanian nationality ..." will be objects of deportation proceedings. This is the modification that Article 13 of the proposal makes to Article 65 of Decree-Law 3 of 2008. Apart from the extremely subjective that is to define an offence, this enters into direct violation with Article 37 of our Political Constitution (freedom of expression), article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, all on freedom of expression.

Article 5 of the bill requires that in six months from the enactment of the law, foreigners benefiting from extraordinary regularizations have a series of public and private documents, such as proof of payment of public services, work permits, declare income that proves that they have an address, that they have income at least equal to the minimum wage and that they pay the corresponding taxes.

According to the proposal, a Migration Unit for Field Action (UMAC) is assigned the main powers to receive, analyse, study, verify and validate the documents and facts declared by foreigners. There is no due process or transparent grievance mechanisms that guarantee the affected party that these procedures will be fair.

Bad joke

Although the proposal has controversial articles, one, in particular, seems a bad joke: Article 11 requires the Office of the Comptroller General to audit the funds received by the processes of migratory regularization and that this audit is published.

This is in contrast to the practice of the majority of the members of the National Assembly, including the proponent [Rodriguez].

Panama needs a migratory reform that eliminates corruption and arbitrariness, and that establishes a due process with migratory judges and ex officio defenders that guarantee full rights to foreigners who face the migratory system.

It is important to punish abusive employers, as well as the beneficiaries of commercial sexual exploitation so openly practised in the country. The saddest thing of all is that you miss the opportunity to make a good reform for the game of demagogy says N Priega.

It is a Human Right to have free speech, not any more in Islamic Panama!

This is what Panama is up to, so visitors take note:

Zulay Rodríguez, first vice president of the National Assembly, whose controversial flurry of bills including attacks on immigrants have raised questions from civil groups. Human rights organizations and church leaders are now under renewed fire from media organizations.

The president of the National Journalism Council, Sabrina Bacal, warned that the PRD deputy has breached an August commitment, made in a meeting with her and representatives of other journalistic unions of the country, as well as local representatives of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), in order to discuss the immigration reform bill and other legislative initiatives she promotes.

According to Bacal, in that meeting, promised to eliminate article 13 of the immigration reform bill, which says: “Those foreigners who publicly express offenses and insults towards Panamanian nationality, who commit crimes in the country, or those who do not deliver the documentation described in article 5 of this Law, after the expiration of the legal deadlines for this purpose, as well as the detained persons who have served their sentence or the quota part thereof established in the Agreements and Treaties that they exist as the case may be, with their country of origin; they will be deported immediately from the national territory ”.

So readers you could be expelled too just by holding the national flag upside down would be regarded as an insult!

Bacal recalled that during the appointment, which was also attended by Gerardo Berroa (president of the Forum of Journalists); Alessio Gronchi (Panamanian Broadcasting Association); Guillermo Antonio Adames, vice president of the National Journalism Council; Eduardo Quirós, president of the board of directors of La Estrella and member of the board of directors of the Inter-American Press Association, and Alejandra Araúz (Forum of Journalists), said she had a commitment to freedom of expression, the which - in her s opinion - "is not negotiable."

Bacal said that when Rodriguez presented the preliminary bill to the Government subcommission created to analyze the proposal, it included a text whose essence is the same as that of the

“Just a week ago, deputy Zulay Rodríguez promised, to eliminate article 13, which clearly violated freedom of expression, and today we are seeing in the subcommission that it is introducing a very similar proposal. "

"And what is strange is that the person carrying the flag [of the LGBTI community] is not even a foreigner. So she is now talking about deporting now those who offend the national symbols and that, in essence, is exactly the same as what that she promised to eliminate,” said Bacal.

"At that same meeting, deputy Zulay said that freedom of expression for her was not negotiable, so we hope that with all her decisions and actions she will honour this word," she added.

Gay’s not welcomed to Panama! Filmmaker fined $500 for carrying Panama flag with LGBTI colours. It’s human right freedom of speech, not in Panama!

Panama filmmaker Roberto Latorre spent the night at the Sub Station of the National Police in San Miguel, after being arrested on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 6th 2019 for carrying a Panamanian flag with the colours of the rainbow, one of the symbols of the LGBTI movement.

He was participating in a civic demonstration against corruption and impunity on the grounds of the National Assembly.

On the morning of Wednesday, Latorre was initially taken - handcuffed and escorted by police officers - from the Sub Station to the Community Justice of Peace of Calidonia, but JP Sonia Fuentes warned that the case is the responsibility of the Panama Mayor's Office.

"It's the first time I've seen such a case,” said Fuentes and she went with Latorre in a patrol car, to the Mayor's office.

Latorre appeared before Mayor Luis Fabrega and was fined $500. He acknowledged that the flag belongs to him, that he designed it himself, but that it is not the Panamanian flag, because the national emblem has three colours (red, blue and white) and he is seven.

"Regarding the similarity with the flag of the Republic of Panama, he indicated that this question should be asked to those who saw it and not to him," said the Mayor's Resolution.

The same resolution indicates that "the similarity with the Panamanian flag is evident, with two identical quadrants in its description, colours, design and location, and with two quadrants that represent without a doubt the other two quadrants of the Panama flag, the red and blue, respectively, to which graphic elements consisting of orange and yellow stripes on the upper right quadrant of red and green and purple stripes on the lower left quadrant of blue have been incorporated. The fine is appealable within five business days.

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