11 November 2014 - Panama is the latest country to join the Blue Heart Campaign against Human Trafficking. With millions of victims of human trafficking across the globe, the campaign aims to mobilize governments, civil society organizations, media and the private sector to expose and combat this serious crime.
The campaign was launched at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Rodolfo Aguilera, Minister of Public Security, together with UNODC Deputy Executive Director Aldo Lale-Demoz. Senior government officials, the diplomatic corps, the media and civil society representatives were present as well.
During his speech Mr. Lale-Demoz highlighted the efforts made by Panama to fight against human trafficking, but reiterated that there is still a lot to do, including the reduction of impunity and the establishment of centers for the provision of assistance to victims.
Immediately following the launch, Panama President Juan Carlos Varela signed the Blue Heart Pact as a symbol of the commitment of his administration to keep working on preventing, investigating and prosecuting this heinous crime, and thanked UNODC for the continued support provided.
Also during Mr. Lale-Demoz's visit to Panama an awareness campaign was launched by the Panama Ministry of Interior, supported by UNODC, the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and the European Union. The campaign, "Piénsalo Antes" ['Think before you act', in Spanish], focuses on vulnerable populations, particularly young persons, by addressing the consequences of engaging in criminal activities and the negative impact that imprisonment could have on their lives, their families and the community. Simultaneously, the campaign is a reminder that the prison system must secure the human rights of people living in detention, in the context of the UNODC-supported prison reform process in the country.
The campaign is grounded in the testimonies of men and women deprived of liberty, who tell their personal experiences and ask the audience to 'think twice' before committing a criminal act. A video collecting 10 testimonies will be aired by the main Panamanian TV and radio stations on a daily basis.