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Workshop on maritime and port security in Panama

Panama, 25 November 2019. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean (UNODC ROPAN) organized the workshop "Organized Crime Threats to Maritime and Port Security" on 19 and 20 November, in which 40 members of government security agencies and port facilities in Panama participated.

In her opening remarks, Melissa Flynn, Director of Programmes and Operations at UNODC, stressed that all present at the training are working "towards a common goal, to prevent and combat transnational organized crime", as this type of crime "has a transnational component that goes beyond borders, and therefore requires a coordinated strategic response".

"It is not enough for a State to establish legal provisions or specialize its investigators and prosecutors; it is also necessary to create communication and trust links between the people working in the relevant specialized units in the different countries of the region," Flynn said.

The Director of Programmes and Operations stressed that "maritime transit is a predominant axis of trade exchange; Panama is surrounded by two oceans and since 1501 its historic role has been to be a transit place for world trade". 

"The sea is a source of resources, means of communication and transport (...) which in turn increases threats such as illicit drug or arms trafficking, terrorism and human trafficking, among others", and added that "the participants in this workshop, by the nature of their functions, are key players in the task of fighting corruption and organized crime".


Among the topics discussed in the workshop was the participation of Andres Mata, of the Panama Maritime Chamber, who referred to national maritime trade and Jaime Owens to the strategy of the Panama Canal in crime prevention.

Victor Casanova of PSA Panama, Henry Manuel Andrion of Manzanillo International Terminal, Irving Muñoz of Panama Ports Company and Aristides Lara of Colon Container Terminal spoke about security in their respective ports.

Guillermo Torres, Head of the Port Protection Department of the Panama Maritime Authority, spoke about the ISPS port security code; Public Prosecutors Javier Caraballo and Eduardo de la Torre López, discussed organized crime and drug trafficking in Panamanian ports, respectively.

Coordinated work

For Victor Casanova, Security Manager of PSA Panama International Terminal, "the topics chosen in this workshop have been very successful in addressing the problems we have in Panama, since all of us, both private companies and security institutions must coordinate work procedures that help us minimize the actions of organized crime.

"The days of the workshop have been dynamic and in tune with reality in the management of security and protection," said Guillermo Torres, Head of the Department of Port Security of the Maritime Authority of Panama. He added that these events are important to integrate the cream of the entities involved in the management to implement and improve the sustainable development of Panama in the maritime port sector, not only focused on trade, but also on the security that is vital for us.