Mexican activist expelled from Panama while in transit

Association

On 1st October 2018, Alejandro Cerezo, a Mexican human rights defender was expelled from Panama, while he was in transit to an event in Paraguay. According to reports, immigration agents at Tocumán airport in Panama questioned him for several hours about personal issues and about his imprisonment in 2001 and sent him back to Mexico. 

The Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal (Human Rights Commission,CDHDF) rejected the decision and requested:

"[A]n immediate, thorough and impartial investigation to determine why Alejandro Cerezo has been criminalised internationally; determine which instance of the Mexican State issued an alert criminalising the defender and that the Mexican government requests clarifications from Panama about the expulsion of Alejandro Cerezo Contreras." (Translated from Spanish)

Cerezo is a prominent HRD who was arrested for political reasons in 2001 and released in 2005 after being acquitted of all charges. In 2006 he was granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights after receiving deaths threats. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 12th September 2018, the indigenous community Ngäbe-Buglé in the town of Besiko had a confrontation with police officers after the community protested by setting up a roadblock to pressure the government to build a new road in the community. The police dispersed the protest and detained two people. One day later, representatives of the community reached an agreement with the government who will start building the road in November 2018. 

On 5th September 2018, students, university professors and journalists, peacefully demonstrated for the protection of freedom of expression in Panama in light of the increasing threats and lawsuits against journalists as reported in the expression section above. 

Expression

The Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (Inter-American Press Association, SIP) expressed its concern over the constant use of legal procedures against journalists covering the judicial case against former president Ricardo Martinelli who is accused of several corruption charges. Marta Linares de Martinelli, former first lady, filed a complaint against five journalists from media outlet La Prensa seeking a court order that would prevent the journalists from publishing information considered of "private" nature. In addition, former president Martinelli filed a case for defamation against Annette Planells, from Movimiento Independiente (Movin) and lawyer Mariela Ledezma for comments made on social media and during a radio show. SIP said regarding the cases that "we are facing a clear maneuver to intimidate and silence public opinion".

In a similar case, former director of the traffic police Javier Fanuco filed a case against journalist Guadalupe Castillero for damages and requested a 2 million USD compensation. According to reports, the case was brought after Castillero interviewed Jozeth Montero, a former police officer, in which he publicly reported being a victim of sexual harassment by Fanuco.