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Improving Citizen's Security in Panama - contributing to the social construction of peace recent years, Panama has suffered the detrimental effects of gradually increasing criminal activity, growing perceptions of insecurity and domestic violence. There have also been clear indications of the relationship between geography and violence. This programme has therefore been carefully designed to contribute to the social prevention of violence and crime, the strengthening of institutional mechanisms and policies in the security sector, and the increase of knowledge to facilitate support in the creation of new public policies.

The programme, financed by the Spanish Fund for the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, is carried out through the cooperation of various national and international agencies and organizations.

Amongst the United Nations agencies involved are: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean in Panama (UNODC ROPAN); the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Likewise, the following institutions are amongst those that play a key role in the development and implementation of the programme in Panama:

  • The Ministry of Public Security (National Programme for Integral Security);
  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
  • National Police;
  • Judicial Organ;
  • Ministry of Social Development;
  • Ministry of Education;
  • National Women's Institute;
  • Alliance Programme for a Life without Violence;
  • University of Technology of Panama;
  • USAID;
  • Social Media;

One of the goals of this programme is to achieve a greater capacity for implementation in Panama for the long term consolidation of strategies, policies and integrated initiatives that take into account the prevention of crime and violence. It also aims to redesign the relevant institutions for the production of efficient an effective responses with greater generation of knowledge and information while focusing on the protection of Human Rights and garnering active participation of organized civil society.

The areas of intervention of the programme are centred in three main municipalities in Panama (San Miguelito, La Chorrera and Arraijan) and are carried out at both the national and local (municipality) levels for an estimated period of 3 years.

In its role, UNODC ROPAN will carry out a range of functions:

  1. Provision of technical expertise to officials of the Ministry of Public Security so as to develop a system of weapons records at the national level;
  2. Carrying out of training and assessments of national and local authorities in the field of justice;
  3. Contribution to the modernization of the Penitentiary System;
  4. Development of specially designed pilot programmes on restorative justice and alternatives to imprisonment for  juvenile offenders;
  5. Training of authorities;
  6. Development of two pilot models for centers for adolescents in conflict with the law.

These activities contribute to the achievement of Outcome 2 of the MDGs and through these functions UNODC ROPAN and the partners have been successful in achieving the following results:

  1. The construction of the National Mechanism for the analysis of violence. This mechanism has been designed to improve analytical capacities and to facilitate the elaboration and desimination of recommendations;
  2. The strengthening of the institutional capacities for the integral management of citizens' security with a focus on gender and human rights;
  3. The development of sustainable initiatives for social prevention of juvenile violence and violence against women.

In addition to these successes, the programme has also facilitated diagnostic consultations on the efficiency of the normative and administrative penitentiary systems for accused minors, as well as on the rehabilitation and social reinsertion programmes, with an aim of evaluating the coordination with the Integrated Security Programme (PROSI according to its acronym in Spanish), and to access the improvement and sharpening of the processes of alternatives to incarcerations.

The programme, however, still seeks to achieve a range of national and local goals. Locally, various local plans and participative processes are being designed for the identification of actors, experiences at a regional level, coordination mechanisms, alliances and data exchange. At the national level, through the Observatory of Citizen's Security in the Chamber of Commerce, the programme seeks to produce and publish various reports, victimization surveys and specialized bulletins. There are also various ongoing initiatives for the generation of knowledge such as training workshops, conferences implementation strategies, protocols, diagnostics etc., as well as the development of diplomas and postgraduate certification in the field.

The main strategies of the programme in achieving these goals include:

  • Development of capacities and construction of inter-institutional alliances.
  • Management of Information and Knowledge
  • Strengthening of public policy on citizen's security and .divulgation of such policies to communication media
  • Creation of Community and Institutional initiatives at the local level
  • Promotion of Human Rights