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Penitentiary career law takes effect in Panama

On September 14th came into force Law 42 of 2016 that develops the Penitentiary Career in Panama. This law, result of a participatory process that considers the best experiences in the region, was supported by UNODC through the projects implemented in the area of penitentiary reform.

The penitentiary career, whose main components are training, job stability, the establishment of a hierarchical system based on merit and a strict disciplinary regime, constitutes a major step forward in the process of transformation and humanization of the Panamanian Prison System.

In order to commemorate the entry into force of the penitentiary law, the Ministry of Government organized a panel of experts to analyze the challenges of the new law. The coordinator of UNODC ROPAN Prison Reform Team participated in the panel, noting that with the implementation of the career law, Panama is complying with the main international standards on prison management and treatment of persons deprived of their liberty, in particular the Nelson Mandela Rules and the Bangkok Rules.

In recent years, the Panamanian authorities have made several progress towards consolidating prison reform, including the reopening of the Prison Training Academy, strengthening and expanding social reintegration programs, and actions aimed at prevention of corruption in the penitentiary area. With the entry into force of this law, it is sought that the penitentiary policy becomes a public policy of State, in order to professionalize the prison system as a public service of unquestionable social value.

UNODC congratulates the government authorities and expresses its full commitment to continue working in pursuit of a humane and secure prison system in line with the main instruments and standards in criminal justice and human rights.