Vienna / Panama City. June 30, 2011. The Executive Director of UNODC Yury Fedotov, today concluded a two-day visit to Panama, meeting several senior officials, including President Ricardo Martinelli and Vice President Juan Carlos Varela. This visit was an opportunity to discuss several topics from the fight against corruption, organized crime and criminal justice, to border and illicit drugs control, and human trafficking. An agreement was also signed to support the creation of a regional academy of anti-corruption in Panama City.
These topics were also discussed with several senior officials, including Mr.Alejandro Garúz, member of Public Security of Panama, Mrs.Abigail Benzadón, executive secretary of the National Council for Transparency against Corruption; Mrs. Roxana Méndez, Minister of Government , Mrs.Gloria Moreno de Lopez, Director of Customs; Mr.Manuel Benitez, executive vice president of the authorities operations of the Panama Canal, and the director of channel security, Mr.Antonio Michel.
Located at the intersection of North and South America, the unique geographical position of Panama has made brought opportunities but also challenges the country. Trade and shipping have provided such a number of economic benefits to Panama, although organized crime was able to exploit the legal process through drug trafficking and other illicit products. The control program containers, jointly launched by UNODC and the World Customs Organization is working to counter this and in fact plays an important role in helping the authorities to intercept the illegal transactions in drugs, cultural and natural protected . Since October 2009, content from more than 115 containers were seized in Panama for the forfeiture of property valued at several million dollars and the seizure of approximately 1,200 kg of cocaine. Recently, the program control of containers at the port of Manzanillo seized 174 kg of cocaine hidden in a container filled with suitcases and lamps from the Colon Free Zone in Rotterdam.
Another crucial discussion also took place on the theme of anti-corruption at the national level between Mr. Fedotov and officials of Panama. As in Panama City, Mr. Fedotov has signed an agreement to support the creation of a regional academy of anti-corruption in Central America and the Caribbean thanks to the $ 700 000 USD from government funding: "I welcome this initiative Government of Panama to establish a regional anti-corruption academy. Corruption is a terrible crime too often overlooked. Academies such as this provide a training ground for strengthening integrity among officials of the country and ultimately boost the government's ability to serve its people. " The Academy, which will offer specialized courses in the training of prosecutors, judges, police officers and others responsible for public bodies to prevent, detect and fight corruption in the public sector, is supported by UNODC. Panama is also ready to host the 2013 Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption - This demonstrates its commitment to the fight against corruption locally and internationally.
Prison reform is another area that UNODC is developing with the government ; the Executive Director also welcomed at the meetings, the process of harmonizing the reforms of the prison system in the country with international standards.
Finally, border security and its role in the fight against trafficking of migrants and smuggling was discussed. Mr Fedotov discussed the role of police authorities of Panama with a key specialist in the fight against the criminal networks consequences.
For more information, please contact:
In Panama City, Panama:
Troels Vester, Officer-in-Charge: UNODC Panama
T: (+507) 314-4980 | M: (+507) 6550-9450 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Vienna, Austria:
Alun Jones, Chief of Communication and Advocacy: UNODC
T: (+43-1) 26060-5726 | P: (43-699) 1459-5726 | E: alun.jones@ unodc