Expression

On 17th July 2020, eleven civil society organisations sent a letter to Edison Lanza, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, requesting that he speak up against judicial harassment of members of the press in Panama. The CSOs highlighted the recent embargo on the assets and accounts of Corporación La Prensa, SA, in a concerning court ruling that was previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor. The organisations also wrote a second letter to request that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights grant precautionary measures in favour of La Prensa, as petitioned in July 2020.

Peaceful Assembly

On 13th August 2020, police disrupted a demonstration and detained seven young protesters who were demanding that the government repeal mandatory quarantine in Panama. The demonstrators also protested the lack of jobs and what they considered unjust differences in movement restrictions across the country. Hours later, Panamanian Police issued a statement saying the protesters were detained because they had blocked traffic and thus “disrupted peaceful coexistence”.

In a separate development, students of the University of Panama organised protests against government budget cuts on 7th and 9th September 2020. As reported by EFE, over fifty demonstrators from student movements such as Pensamiento y Acción Transformadora (Transformative Thinking and Action - PAT) gathered to denounce a budget cut of 91 million USD, which they say will severely affect the academic institution. According to the news outlet, some demonstrators threw stones at anti-riot police officers but no further clashes were reported.