Panama (CRC 28-02-2018)
The Committee considered the combined fifth and sixth periodic reports of Panama (CRC/C/PAN/5-6) at its 2258th and 2259th meetings (see CRC/C/SR.2258 and 2259), held on 17 and 18 January 2018, and adopted the present concluding observations at its 2282nd meeting, held on 2 February 2018.
B. General principles (arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12)
- The Committee reiterates its concern (see CRC/C/PAN/CO/3-4, para. 33) at the continued disparities affecting Afro-Panamanian and indigenous children and children with disabilities with regard to access to health care, education and other basic services, as is made evident by their higher rates of infant mortality, especially due to preventable diseases, and of malnutrition, maternal mortality and school dropout. It is also seriously concerned at discrimination by police and other security forces against Afro-Panamanian children living in marginalized urban neighbourhoods, who are wrongly perceived as potential delinquents, as a result of such measures as curfews for children and mass media campaigns linking adolescents to alleged increases in criminality.
- The Committee recalls its previous concluding observations (see CRC/C/PAN/CO/3-4, para. 34) and recommends, in line with its general comment No. 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence, that the State party allocate adequate human, technical and financial resources for the implementation of the inter-agency strategic plan for young people 2015–2019, disseminate this plan, and reinforce measures to:
(a) Encourage the development of a code of conduct for media personnel and journalists, and strengthen their capacities to promote the coverage of adolescents as rights holders;
(b) Guarantee continuous monitoring of the depiction of children and adolescents in the media, by the Observatory for the Rights of Children and Young Persons and the National Council of Journalism;
(c) Take all measures to combat the negative association of Afro-Panamanian and other adolescents with crime, including negative stereotyping based on age and ethnicity, and, in particular, reinforce training of police officers on the rights of all children;
(d) Ensure that all cases of discrimination against children are addressed effectively, including by disseminating accessible information about what constitutes discrimination, establish disciplinary, administrative or, if necessary, penal sanctions, and guarantee children’s access to psychosocial and legal counselling in cases of discrimination;
(e) Raise awareness of the fact that adolescents are rights holders, including through campaigns that are designed with the full participation of adolescents and are disseminated through the mass media. Focus especially on children and adolescents from Afro-Panamanian and indigenous communities, pregnant girls, children with disabilities, children with HIV/AIDS, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children, refugee and asylum-seeking children and other groups of children in marginalized situations, through such campaigns.
Respect for the views of the child
- The Committee notes the establishment of two councils of children and adolescents in municipalities and recommends that the State party strengthen efforts to give due consideration to children’s and adolescents’ views in decisions that concern them, in accordance with its general comment No. 12 (2009) on the right of the child to be heard, and that it:
(a) Grant adequate support to all municipalities throughout the State party to establish councils of children and adolescents, ensure that they are able to consult with children and adolescents on issues that affect them and give due weight to their views;
(b) Institutionalize the Children’s Parliament as a regular event, combining its action with the Youth Assemblies Programme (Programa Asambleas Juveniles). Ensure that these mechanisms are provided with a meaningful mandate and adequate human, technical and financial resources, and that eligible children from Afro-Panamanian and indigenous communities, pregnant girls, children with disabilities, children with HIV/AIDS, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex children, refugee and asylum-seeking children and other groups of children in situations of vulnerability are able to fully participate and that their views are taken into account when defining the legislative agenda and national policies;
(c) Conduct research to determine how the voices of children and adolescents are heard in family decisions affecting their lives, and the channels through which they currently and potentially have the most influence on national and local decision-making;
(d) Develop toolkits for regular public consultations on national policy development, such as the UNICEF study “The voice of adolescents”, to standardize such consultations at a high level of inclusiveness and participation;
(e) Establish systems and/or procedures for social workers and courts to comply with the right of the child to be heard;
(f) Conduct programmes and awareness-raising activities to promote the meaningful and empowered participation of all children within the family, the community and schools, including within student councils, with particular attention to children in vulnerable situations.