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Childcare Scandal: Governor of Panama Replaced; Carla García Assumes the Helm, But Finds Herself Amid Senniaf Controversy Regarding Children's Shelter Abuses


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Govenor of Panama replaced

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La Prensa's take on the return of the deposed governor to her old post

Posted 09/02/2021

President Cortizo asked Judy Meana to resign as governor of the province of Panama after only nine months and replaced her with Carla García.

García, who until yesterday served as deputy director of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and Family, is the daughter of the Vice Minister of the Presidency, Carlos García.

At a press conference, Meana, a member of the Nationalist Republican Liberal Movement (Molirena), an ally of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), reported that Cortizo called her to inform her that he would carry out "a renewal" of the Government.

"He [Cortizo], in the end, can put whoever he decides," said Meana.

She will now return to the Vice Mayor of the municipality of Panama, to which she was elected in the May 2019 elections together with Mayor José Luis Fábrega, a product of the alliance between the (PRD) and Molirena.

The vice-e mayor assumed the governorship of the province of Panama on April 16, 2020 and had planned to remain in that position until April 2022, when the license granted by the Municipal Council expired.

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Governor distances,herself from investigation

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Carla Garcia's first official act was the drawing of the lottery

Posted 13/02/2021

The newly appointed  governor of Panama, Carla García is trying to distance  herself from a Public Ministry investigation following a report of a legislative subcommittee that reported  physical, sexual and psychological abuse in shelters under the responsibility of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and Family (Senniaf) while she was deputy director.  

She  absolved herself from responsibility in the case  in a statement issued  Saturday arguing that she worked in the "social area" as Deputy

Director a position she held for a year and a half.

Complaints were filed  the cases of abuse and mistreatment reported in shelters for minors and at the corresponding administrative measures were taken, such as the closure of eight shelters throughout the country.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/governor-distancesherself-from-investigation

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Panama's revolting politcal class

Posted 13/02/2021

What happened in recent years with dozens of minors in shelters subsidized by the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf) is unforgivable. The lack of supervision and the laziness of Senniaf officials made it possible for children and adolescents to be victims of sexual abuse and physical and psychological violence. Senniaf social workers reported these abuses and the institution's response was to dismiss them and look the other way, while a vulnerable population was victimized. The enormous gravity of the events investigated by a legislative subcommittee does not seem to have impressed the Ministry of Social Development, which in a recent statement on the scandal only seems concerned about the subsidies it gives to shelters, when what is serious is the negligence and incompetence of the officials in charge of guarding these shelters. Where was the Senniaf board of directors, made up of the ministers of Social Development, Health, Education, Labor and Economy? This is one of the most serious government failures in the guardianship of minors, and shows the most inhumane indolence of not a few militants of our - increasingly - repulsive political class. lLA PRENSA,Feb. 1

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/panama039s-revolting-politcal-class-1

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Abuse in child shelters continues

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News of the abuses has drawn protesters on to the streets

Posted 14/02/2021

Two social workers, Chanita Chamarra and María Victoria Pomar, were dismissed from the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family ad Las Garzas.The firings occurred because the document made the bureaucracy uncomfortable. Now, a report by the National Assembly, prepared after six months of investigations, confirms the infamies committed against dozens of children including those with disabilities  

Breaking news

The Public Ministry (MP) reported on Sunday, February 14, that it opened an ex officio investigation after an incident that occurred with a minor who was in a shelter located in the township of Tocumen.

According to the MP, the Family Section of the Metropolitan Area began the investigation for the alleged commission of the crime of child abuse to the detriment of a 10-year-old girl due to an incident that occurred on Friday, February 12 at night in a children's shelter.

Senniaf has a budget of only $6,155. for r the current year (an amount that has remained constant for several years). All those familiar with the subject have reiterated that this money is not enough, that the staff is scarce, and that a good part of the shelters deserves another name: that of hell for their victims. Who are those forgotten ones? They are boys, girls and adolescents who lived on the street; others who were "rescued" from their families for violence or sexual abuse,

The minors do not appear on the priority list of the politicians who have governed the country. they are not influencers with many followers. There are also no deputies in the Budget Committee to ask for more funds to serve these minors with dignity. In addition, surely the little money allocated to the shelters arrives late, falls between the endorsement cracks of the Comptroller's Office or is misplaced between the folders of the Ministry of Economy and Finance .

“Does anyone know if these 900+ boys and girls had breakfast today? Where and how did they slept Who will take care of them tonight so that they do not rape them, torture them, tie them to the bed or tell them to pray? asks La Prensa. and lost their jobs because of it. What have the attorney general Eduardo Ulloa done; the Ombudsman, Eduardo Leblanc, or the Minister of Mides, María Inés Castillo? It seems that pro-family groups have fallen silent. Where is the reaction of the anti-abortion fundamentalists, for the denunciation of an abortion caused to a minor

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/abuse-in-child-shelters-continues-1

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Shelter abuse protests enter fifth day

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Posted 16/02/2021

Civil society groups demonstrated for the fourth day on Tuesday, February 16, in front of the headquarters of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family ( Senniaf ), in the Calidonia district.

Since last week, when a report by the  National  Assembly committee for Women, Children, Youth delivered its report on abuse and mistreatment of minors in shelters, days of protests have been at the headquarters.

Cries of “Justice for our children” were accompanied by the banging of pots. They carried read banners that said: Children do not lie, their abusers do; Who protects our children? , we demand justice !; Enough!; The state knew ... no more indifference.

The protesters, mostly young, pointed out that we must take care of the rights of the most vulnerable people, such as children who live in shelters.

They also said that it is unforgivable that the institutions responsible for the shelters do not face up to all these inhumane acts. They added that if Panamanian society is not outraged at this situation, it is true that "we are corrupt to the core."

The legislative report denounced "concrete evidence of abuse, violence and physical mistreatment of children and adolescents" in shelters for minors.

The report that is already in the hands of the Public Ministry, which opened an investigation, it is indicated that girls were victims of sexual abuse and were even forced to terminate pregnancies. It adds that in some shelters the minors were denied food and medicine.

The Legislative Committee was struck by “the inactivity of the Senniaf, since social workers sent reports to this entity about the irregularities and in many cases they were dismissed, while the children continued to live with their abusers.

On, Tuesday, Mayra Silvera, director of the Senniaf reported that 8 shelters have been closed, of the 51 identified nationwide.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/shelter-abuse-protests-enter-fifth-day

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8 children's shelters closed amidst growing outrage

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Posted 16/02/2021

The board of directors of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family ( Senniaf ) - which has been declared in permanent session - asked Senniaf to immediately close the shelters nationwide that,  have incurred “very serious offenses “ in accordance with the provisions of current regulations.

Consequently, it is necessary to proceed with the transfer of the children and adolescents who are located in said facilities. This was raised by the board of directors at the third meeting held to deal with complaints about irregularities in shelters in the country.

The directors also urged the National Supervision and Monitoring Committee to supervise the shelters at the national level “urgently”, based on the principle of the best interests of the child and adolescents, through the technical teams of the different institutions that comprise it. Thus, reports and recommendations can be issued to the Senniaf board of directors so that the necessary measures are taken.

Mayra Silvera , director of Senniaf, said Tuesday, February 16, that 8 shelters have been closed, of the 51 identified nationwide. Silvera said that similar measures "are going to continue", energetically, in case anomalies are found in these places.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/8-childrens-shelters-closed-amidst-growing-outrage

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Leaders in eye of abuse storm stay mum after meeting with AG

Posted 17/02/2021

The director of the Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf), Mayra Inés Silvera and the Minister of Social Development,María Inés Castillo, went to the Attorney General's Office on Wednesday, February 17, to ask Attorney General Eduardo Ulloa, for a copy of the report presented in recent days by deputies belonging to the Committee on Women, Children, Youth and Family Affairs after complaints about cases of abuse and mistreatment of minors in several

shelters under the supervision of the State.

Both Silvera and Castillo avoided giving statements to the media that were present.

The superior family prosecutor Katya Meléndez also held a meeting with Ulloa, to establish the actions to be taken, in order to carry out the investigation of the issue.

"We are currently analyzing the report sent by the Assembly, to establish what actions or investigations to carry out," she said.

After analyzing the situation, they will take the corresponding protection measures regarding the minors who are in the shelters. The majority of the shelters were subsidized by the State but administered by religious organizations largely Evangelical.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/leaders-in-eye-of-abuse-storm-stay-mum-after-meeting-with-ag

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Child Abuse Scandal Reveals President's Indifference

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Posted 17/02/2021

The National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents, and the Family (Senniaf) conducts a tour of shelters to which it provides financial assistance, in order to verify their operation. In other words, its officials are now doing what they should have done before the first reports of abuse against minors in those shelters were made. It is very clear that positions in the Government are for friends, not for those who must render a service to the country. And this scandal has barely scratched the surface. Surely, with a thorough investigation, horrors will come out. We hope that at least this time the head of the Public Ministry (MP) will do more than just give us a speech about how well the investigation will be done, especially when we all witness that his presence has completely emasculated this entity. And, like the parsimony of this official, the silence of the President of the Republic is more scandalous, who not only has had to personally demand the immediate investigation of the case but also request the resignation of the entire Senniaf administration, instead of look with indifference at a tour without any purpose and that, in any case, should be the object of the investigation that the MP will carry out. This scandal portrays in full the disturbing indifference of a government that only wants to satisfy its voracious greed. but to ask the resignation of the entire Senniaf administration, instead of indifferently looking at a tour without any purpose and that, in any case, should be the object of the investigation that the MP will carry out. This scandal portrays in full the disturbing indifference of a government that only wants to satisfy its voracious greed. but to ask the resignation of the entire Senniaf administration, instead of indifferently looking at a tour without any purpose and that, in any case, should be the object of the investigation that the MP will carry out. – LA PRENSA, Feb. 17

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/child-abuse-scandal-reveals-presidentampamp039s-indifference-1

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Legislature dawdles as childcare scandal erupts

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Posted 18/02/2021

While protesters  gather daily   at the offices of Seniaff , the government body overseeing the children’s “shelters”  where complaints of physical, sexual and psychological abuse have surfaced in a 400-page report produced by a National Assembly committee. No heads have rolled although  President Cortizo promised a fast call to the tumbrils for any backsliders.

One of the names appearing on signs at the rallies is Karla Garcia who was recently promoted from Senniaf to become governor of Panama replacing the former deputy mayor who has assumed her old role. In Panama’s game of musical chairs, you have to move fast but not so fast when it comes to creating a system of guarantees and comprehensive protection of children. This initiative was presented in 2018 before the plenary session of the Legislature by the then Minister of Social Development, Alcibiades Vásquez, but it did not pass the filter of the Women's Commission.

For Jorge Giannareas, a specialist in social policy at the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), it is necessary to approve a framework law for children and adolescents, the creation of a policy of guarantees and comprehensive protection of children's rights, and the expansion and strengthening of a range of services to guarantee rights and provide care.

It sustains that the actions of “different institutions are either not well defined, or generate contradictions, or overlap each other, creating confusion, ambiguities, and gaps, which place children and adolescents in a situation of vulnerability in any of the moments of its life cycle ”.

Meanwhile, in the Assembly, at least six proposals on childhood are awaiting a second debate.

Despite the fact that the country is a signatory to various commitments, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified since 1990, the National Assembly has not been able to approve "a system of guarantees and comprehensive protection of children and adolescents", that has been requested by local and international experts.

In the Assembly, the approval of regulations that protect children and adolescents is null, there are about six proposals that address the issue, but they are awaiting a second and third debate by the plenary session.

 Domingo Barrios, president of Aldeas SOS, questioned yesterday in an interview on TVN how the State can demand a series of parameters of care, without even having a law in this regard.

“I want to make a call to the Women's Commission, after they have seen the result, of the Assembly not generating laws that promote monitoring, regulation and subsidies (...) to approve the standards that are required, ”he said.

GREATER RISK
The former magistrate and member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, recalled on Radio Panama that recommendations have been made to the Panamanian State for more than 10 years. For example, sending children to institutional shelters is not the best option.

"It is proven that in these places children are at greater risk of being violated," she said. This scandal should serve to demand a halt and the investigations cannot stop at the fact that shelters are going to be closed. "We have to know which are these shelters and who are responsible for the violation of children's rights," she said.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/legislature-dawdles-as-childcare-scandal-erupts-1

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Rookie lawmaker sets Preident straight

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Posted 18/02/2021

Rookie Independent lawmaker  Juan Diego Vásquez took time out on Thursday to pass on a few tips to veteran politician President Laurentino Cortizo.

He told TVN that on Wednesday  when he finally spoke on the issue of abuse in child shelters  President Cortizo did everything except speak loud and clear about nothing, since, after days of silence, he gave instructions that are “immoral and illegal.”

He affirmed that the President of the Republic only does " cheap politicking and does not know how to govern ."

 He invited him " to do something productive” and to read the Constitution.

He expressed that the president has appointed the inept for being brothers, friends, family or for having sought votes instead of naming correct people.

He said that if the president, the Minister of Social Development, and the director of Senniaf do not want responsibility "that they resign from their position."

He argued that both the National Secretariat for Childhood, Adolescence and Family (Senniaf), and the Ministry of Social Development (MIDES), as responsible for supervising shelters in the country, cannot constitute complainants because the Penal Code mentions who can be constituted as plaintiffs.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/rookie-lawmaker-sets-preident-straight

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President out of focus on shelter scandal

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Posted 19/02/2021

Panama President, Laurentino Cortizo was unfocused when he spoke to the nation on Wednesday about the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of minors in shelters in the country says Olga De Obaldia, executive director of the Panamanian chapter of Transparency International.

Her views are echoed by lawmakers,  politicians. Psychiatrists  and civil society leaders

 For example, he spoke of increasing penalties, but not of the comprehensive protection of children,  said De Obaldia.

In addition, he asked to be complainants  the institutions that have people who are part of the group of "responsible authors", either by omission or commission.

He did not announce the delivery of funds to, for example, "appoint an interdisciplinary team of doctors, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists that can provide immediate care to these children."

“The most vulnerable children in the country have paid for institutional corruption with their physical, mental and emotional integrity. When we think that corruption does not cost us, that the party must fulfill its political commitments by appointing its supporters in positions where technicians are actually needed, these are the results, " said De Obaldia.

On  Wednesday the director of Senniaf, Mayra Silvera, said that the affected minors were sent to other shelters and some returned to their homes.

Romulo Roux, president of the Democratic Change party, pointed out that the president's message was "purely formal." In his view, that the Senniaf and the Ministry of Social Development are complainants "generates a lot of distrust, since the level of responsibility of both entities is not known."

Independent deputy Juan Diego Vásquez said that the president said "nothing."

Vásquez complained that deputies of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party bench defend the president and ave politicized the issue. "Who has politicized this issue is not the Assembly, it was the President of the Republic, who names the inept for being brothers, friends, family, partners instead of naming qualified people," he said.

Cortizo spoke on the issue nine days later, amid citizen protests that emerged after the report made by the Women's Commission of the Assembly, on the vulnerability of the rights of minors in shelters.

The president asked Senniaf, as its regent, and Mides, to become  plaintiffs in the processes, to present a project to increase penalties for child abuse and carry out an audit of the subsidies that the State provides to shelters.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/president-out-of-focus-on-shelter-scandal

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Shelter abuse protests continue in rainstorm

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Posted 20/02/2021

Youthful protestors arrived at the offices of National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Seniaff) on Friday February 19 in the midst of a torrential downpour to continue their 10th day of protests while scores of police sealed off the surrounding streets. The storm muffled but failed to stifle the chants of outrage at the reports of abuse of children and adolescents in shelters allegedly supervised by the institution.

 For 10 days they have demanded to know the progress of the investigations, names of shelters investigated and the condition of the children, while the authorities have avoided giving details of the revelations of a report by a legislative subcommittee on physical, psychological, and sexual abuse of minors, in  50 shelters supervised by the State.

What happened leaves more questions than answers. And some of the explanations seem to be forbidden by the authorities, under the argument of “confidentiality" reports La Prensa.

To date, the number of foundations involved in these events and of shelters that do not meet the requirements to function is unknown. Neither has anything been said about the internal investigations that the Senniaf and the Ministry of Social Development (Mides) had to initiate to determine responsibilities.

There is no date for the appearance before the National Assembly of the Minister of Mides and the director of Senniaf, who face calls to resign after hearing a report prepared by a subcommittee of the Commission on Women, Children and the Family of the National Assembly. That report is now in the hands of the Public Ministry (MP) .

On Friday Attorney General, Eduardo Ulloa, said that the proceedings on the investigations began on Thursday, but he cannot specify what it is about since, according to him, he would make known the strategy of the prosecution.

“I cannot give you details of each case in particular, because many involve minors. We have a legal obligation to keep the summary investigation secret out of respect for the people involved, ”he said.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/shelter-abuse-protests-continue-in-rainstorm

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Three arrests in rainstorm protest

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Posted 20/02/2021

The National Police arrested three people who braved a tropical storm on Friday February  19 to protest the abuse of minors in Seniaff shelters. They were taken to Justice  of the Peace,charged with creating a disturbance.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/three-arrests-in-rainstorm-protest

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Protest flames burning in the rain

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Posted 21/02/2021

The Friday tropical downpour did not deter a few hundred young protestors from their 10th day of  demonstrating against sexual, physical, and psychological abuse at misnamed  “shelters”  under the umbrella of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf), which in many cases subsidized the NGOs and foundations running them.

The protests have taken place at the Senniaf offices and I have been able to observe them firsthand as my office is  a stone’s throw from the site and I have watched daily as truckloads of National Police arrive before 3 pm to block off surrounding streis ets and then see the arriving stream of largely young protestors carrying who leave at 7 pm followed by a convoy of police vehicles driving the wrong way up the road      behind  the Santo Tomas Hospital.

“You have a problem when your  always focused on investment grades and gross domestic product, and a country called the 'Dubai of the Americas' gives dog food to children, constant rape and abuse and with the complicit silence of the government authorities, ”said university student Ismael González, a member of the Transformation Generation group

On Wednesday in a televised address, President Cortizo referred to the issue for the first time and demanded punishment with the "maximum rigor of the law for those responsible for crimes committed against the rights of girls, boys, and adolescents".  

But on Friday the recently named Panama Governor Karla Garcia who was a former Senniaf official was a no-show for the Lotteria draw, conveniently dodging media questions.

After the weekend quarantine hiatus  providing a convenient  firebreak we will watching looking on Monday to see if the protest flames have subsided. Stay tuned.

\

 

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Outrage grows over shelter abuse, criminal complaint calls for heads to roll

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Posted 23/02/2021

Outrage continued to spread on Monday over the reported abuse of children warehoused in shelters under the umbrella of the government body entrusted with their care and protection (Senniaf).

Protestors moved from the Senniaf offices in to the headquarters of the Public Ministry and the Ministry of Social Development to demand justice.

 A criminal complaint was filed with the Public Ministry (MP) calling for the firing of María Inés Castillo  Minister of Social Development (Mides), and Mayra Silvera, director of Senniaf,

The complaint was filed by lawyer Abdiel Enrique González, on behalf of the human rights activist Niura Rodríguez Bárcenas, to investigate Castillo and the vice minister of that portfolio, Milagros Ramos, as well as Silvera, for the alleged commission of the crimes of abuse of authority and violation of the duties of public servants, related to the management of shelters.

The complaint also reaches the former head of Mides Markova Concepción; and to the former director and former deputy director of the Senniaf Sara Rodríguez and Carla García, recently named governor of Panama.

The appeal also asks that the actions of the directors of the shelters in which abuses and crimes against the freedom and sexual integrity of minors have been committed, and for the alleged commission of crimes against collective security and organized crime be investigated .

The complaint is based on article 328-A of the Penal Code, which establishes that whoever belongs to an organized group for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and pornography with minors will be punished with a penalty of 15 to 30 years in prison.

The document specifies that details of the facts can be found in the report prepared by a subcommittee of the Commission for Women, Children, Youth and the Family of the National Assembly,

The complaint cites a statement by Jorge Giannareas, a specialist in social policy at the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), who assured that children who ar in shelters are under the responsibility of the State and that the fact that the administration of those establishments is in the hands of a non-governmental organization is not a reason to diminish that responsibility.

Hours after this legal action was presented, various organizations grouped together in Panama Citizen Power, and others, picketed in front of the headquarters of the Public Ministry to demand that Attorney General Eduardo Ulloa accelerate the investigations.

Aida Torres, one of the protesters, considered that the report delivered by the subcommittee of the National Assembly has elements for prosecutors to take swift action in order to find those responsible for the abuses.

In addition, she requested the provisional separation of the directors of Senniaf until the investigations are completed.

 Rebeca Osorio, from the Federation of Professionals of Panama, blamed the current directors of the entity for not acting with sufficient diligence to report the events and, instead, waited for a legislative subcommittee to make public "the situations aberrant ”that children experience in shelters

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/outrage-grows-over-shelter-abuse-criminal-complaint-calls-for-heads-to-roll

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Raped "shelter" girls forced to abort - report

Posted 23/02/2021

Revelations that girls reported being impregnated by religious staff and then forced to have an abortion while in shelters of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and Family (Senniaf) are contained in a report published in La Estrella.

There are "girls who denounce that religious left them pregnant and abortions were committed," Deputy Zulay Rodríguez, president of the National Assembly's Commission for Women, Children, Youth, and the Family.  The committee has been investigating systematic abuse over years of dozens of minors in state-run shelters. The investigation  was sparked by the firing of two social workers who reported their concerns

Rodríguez,  said that the physical and mental abuses were committed by the "inmates" or personnel in charge of the children in at least 14 shelters investigated

Faced with nine days of public outrage, President  Cortizo, was forced to transmit a message to the nation on television in which he promised to find and punish those responsible for the abuses, without giving details of what actions his government has taken or in what direction.

Several minors were sexually abused by "inmates" since 2015 in at least 14 shelters in Panama, and girls reported having become pregnant by religious who ran the homes, Rodríguez told EFE." and there is even a case of a minor who "was repeatedly abused for five years, from 10 to 15 years," said the deputy,

A parliamentary subcommittee produced a 700-page report that details that dozens of minors were sexually abused, physically and psychologically abused in shelters across the country, institutions that run private organizations such as various NGOs and foundations, but are under the supervision of the State, which It also grants them public funds.

According to the parliamentary investigation, shelters were found without the regulatory operating permit, without qualified personnel, with "inhumane conditions" of life, and that many of the victims of abuse are minors with some disability.

The Attorney General's Office, where Rodríguez and other deputies presented the parliamentary report last week, has said that it has 8 investigations open for irregularities in shelters, some of up to two years and that there are defendants, although the details of these cases are unknown.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/raped-shelter-girls-forced-to-abort-report

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Carla García vuelve a apartarse del escándalo de los albergues

Eliana Morales Gil
24 feb 2021 - 12:16 AM
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Carla García, gobernadora de Panamá. Archivo
 
El papel que tuvo Carla García en la subdirección de la Secretaría Nacional de Niñez, Adolescencia y Familia (Senniaf) está bajo escrutinio una vez más, luego de que ayer la ahora gobernadora de Panamá volviera a apartarse del escándalo por presuntos abusos cometidos contra niños, niñas y adolescentes en albergues bajo la tutela de esa institución.
 

“No quiero evadir responsabilidades de nada. Carla García atendió cada vez que supo de alguna situación. Se lo notifiqué a la directora como me correspondía, porque en mis funciones no estaba la supervisión de los albergues. La ley es clara y establecía que la directora general era quien presidía esta comisión de supervisión y monitoreo de albergues. No un reemplazo. No la subdirectora. Pero cuando Carla García tuvo conocimiento de alguna situación de vulneración de los derechos de un niño, yo lo manifesté. Donde yo me di cuenta de alguna situación, yo la atendí”, dijo García, hija del viceministro de la Presidencia, Carlos García, luego de explicar que el diputado Juan Diego Vásquez la había llamado para ponerla al tanto de una situación en un albergue infantil, cuyo nombre no proporcionó.

Narró que notificó el caso a la Dirección y que incluso presentaron una denuncia ante el Ministerio Público (MP).

Sus palabras se dieron en los pasillos del Consejo Municipal de San Miguelito, al que acudió para explicar el proceso de vacunación que empezará en ese distrito.

Allí, los periodistas le preguntaron una y otra vez sobre las responsabilidades que tenía en la Senniaf y el por qué no denunciaron ante el MP las anomalías que detectó la subcomisión de la Asamblea. “¿Cómo voy a accionar en algo que yo no me di cuenta que estaba ocurriendo (...)?”, respondió.

Manifestó que está a la disposición del Ministerio Público para cualquier requerimiento y, de paso, manifestó que ella no hubiese aceptado un cargo en el Ejecutivo [gobernadora de Panamá] si no no tuviese “la dignidad” para ejercerlo.

Entre salario y gastos de representación, García ganaba $5 mil en la Senniaf. Fue nombrada en la Gobernación apenas unos días antes de que un grupo de diputados de la Comisión de la Mujer, la Niñez, la Juventud, y la Familia de la Asamblea Nacional divulgara el informe.

Justicia

Mientras tanto, la ciudadanía sigue exigiendo justicia para los responsables por acción y omisión de los presuntos abusos cometidos contra niños, niñas y adolescentes en los albergues. Ayer hubo otra protesta frente al Ministerio de Desarrollo Social.

 

Moderator comment: Below is an unedited automated translation of the above news article.

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Carla García returns to depart from the scandal of the shelters
Eliana Morales Gil
Feb 24, 2021 - 12:16 AM

Carla García, governor of Panama. Archive

The role that Carla García had in the sub-directorate of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf) is under scrutiny once again, after yesterday the now governor of Panama turned away from the scandal for alleged abuses committed against children, girls and adolescents in shelters under the supervision of that institution.

“I don't want to avoid responsibility for anything. Carla García attended her every time she learned of a situation. I notified the director accordingly, because my duties were not supervising the shelters. The law is clear and established that the general director was the one who presided over this commission of supervision and monitoring of shelters. Not a replacement. Not the vice principal. But when Carla García learned of a situation of violation of the rights of a child, I manifested it. Where I realized a situation, I attended to it, ”said García, daughter of the Vice Minister of the Presidency, Carlos García, after explaining that the deputy Juan Diego Vásquez had called her to inform her of a situation in a children's shelter , whose name he did not provide.

She narrated that she notified the case to the Directorate and that they even filed a complaint with the Public Ministry (MP).

Her words were given in the corridors of the Municipal Council of San Miguelito, to which she went to explain the vaccination process that will begin in that district.

There, the journalists asked her again and again about the responsibilities that she had in the Senniaf and why she did not report the anomalies detected by the Assembly subcommittee to the MP. "How am I going to act on something that I didn't realize was happening (...)?" She answered.

She stated that she is at the disposal of the Public Ministry for any requirement and, incidentally, she stated that she would not have accepted a position in the Executive [governor of Panama] if she did not have "the dignity" to exercise it.

Between salary and representation expenses, García earned $ 5,000 at Senniaf. She was appointed to the Interior just days before a group of deputies from the Commission for Women, Children, Youth, and the Family of the National Assembly released the report.

Justice

Meanwhile, citizens continue to demand justice for those responsible for acts and omissions of the alleged abuses committed against children and adolescents in shelters. Yesterday there was another protest in front of the Ministry of Social Development.

 

ttps://www.prensa.com/impresa/panorama/carla-garcia-vuelve-a-apartarse-del-escandalo-de-los-albergues/

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Governor struggles to distance herself from shelters scandal

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Carla Garcia

Posted 24/02/2021

Carla García who was named Governor of Panama before the shelters scandal erupted is endeavoring to distance herself from her role in the sub-directorate of the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf) while abuses were committed against children, girls, and adolescents in shelters under the supervision of the institution.

“I don't want to avoid responsibility for anything. Said García. "I notified the director accordingly because my duties were not supervising the shelters. The law is clear and established that the general director was the one who presided over this commission of supervision and monitoring of shelters. Not a replacement. Not the vice principal. But when Carla García learned of a situation of violation of the rights of a child, I manifested it. Where I realized a situation, I attended to it, ”said García, daughter of the Vice Minister of the Presidency, Carlos García, after explaining that the deputy Juan Diego Vásquez had called her to inform her of a situation in a children's shelter, whose name she did not provide reports La Prensa.

She said that she notified the case to the Directorate and that they even filed a complaint with the Public Ministry (MP).

-Questioned repeatedly by journalists at a Thursday function - she was missing from the lottery draw on the previous Friday - why he did not report the anomalies detected by the Assembly subcommittee to the MP.  She said:"How am I going to act on something that I didn't realize was happening (...)?"

She stated that she is at the disposal of the Public Ministry for any requirement and, said she would not have accepted a position in the Executive [Governor of Panama] if she did not have "the dignity" to exercise it.

Between salary and representation expenses, García earned $5,000 a month at Senniaf.  She was appointed Governor just a few days- before a group of deputies from the Commission for Women, Children, Youth, and the Family of the National Assembly released the report.

Meanwhile, citizens continue to demand justice for those responsible for acts and omissions of the alleged abuses committed against children and adolescents.  

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/governor-struggles-to-distance-herself-from-shelters-scandal

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Shelter abuse scandal protests approach 3rd week

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Posted 26/02/2021

Demonstrations against sexual and psychological abuse of children and adolescents in “shelters” subsidized by the government continued through the week while the Panama Prosecutor's Office told Efe News  Agency on Wednesday. Shortly after the Prosecutor's Office undertook this comprehensive investigation, Attorney General Eduardo Ulloa, announced his resignation, without the reasons being known. A  National Assembly subcommittee presented a report more than two weeks ago that details that since 2015 dozens of minors have been abused in 14 shelters nationwide, where boys, girls, and boys in vulnerable situations are housed.

"It was very unfortunate to learn first-hand that reality is beyond fiction: the state of abandonment and revictimization is surprising. The minors are in subhuman conditions," said alternate deputy Walkiria Chandler, a member of the subcommission.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/shelter-abuse-scandal-protests-approach-3rd-week

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Business group demands "real consequences" in shelter scandal

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Posted 28/02/2021

Panama’s Chamber of Commerce Industries  and Agriculture is  demanding "real consequences" in the face of the revelations regarding children's centers that should be supervised and monitored by the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and Family (Senniaf) and where Inadmissible atrocities are detailed, before which "justice cannot continue paralyzed and mute.”

" Today, most citizens “see their rights violated in the face of a judicial system that is not capable of defending the most basic constitutional rights of citizens in this pandemic, which shows no results in the face of the numerous high-profile corruption cases, that with its lack of results prevents the country from defending itself from discriminatory lists and as if that were not enough, it fails to protect even the children and adolescents of this country.

The business group also referred to the resignation of Eduardo Ulloa from the Office of the Attorney General which, according to the Chamber has left more questions than answers that are clear and true.

“It is striking that after having made a career within the Public Ministry (MP), the attorney general supports his resignation in an alleged ignorance of the public scrutiny of the position and the depth of the weaknesses and needs of the system for which he had committed to work. Faced with these inconclusive and non-transparent arguments, the population deserves respect and real explanations “. Said the Chamber on Sunday.

The substitute attorney, Javier Caraballo, will occupy the head of the  MP  while the Cabinet, led by  Laurentino Cortizo, chooses Ulloa's replacement.

“We must be right with this appointment, where it requires an immutable and determined figure, vertical, independent, proven and able to lead a MP that, not only prosecutes the crime, but also carries out processes with results and consequences for those who violate the law.”said the Chamber in its Sunday bulletin.

A country without efficient justice assumes the dangerous possibility of entering the path of anarchy and violence says the  Panamanian Association of Business Executives (Apede). “As proof of this, we find situations such as those that have arisen recently, in which the precarious situation of the population in a vulnerable condition worsens who, instead of being cared are repeatedly re-victimized...All this as a consequence of a system that allows impunity, "said Apede, in a Sunday statement.

“The untimely resignation of the Attorney General generates great uncertainty since the reason for it is not clearly defined, which denotes an unacceptable institutional fragility, also generating unnecessary speculation and mistrust. at this crucial moment in national history.”

The Apede made an urgent call to resume the debate on the methods of selection of the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Attorney General, and other authorities of the control institutions. "And those changes can only come with" profound constitutional changes."

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/business-group-demands-quotreal-consequencesquot-in-shelter-scandal-1

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Ombudsman submits protest report to UN office

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Posted 28/02/2021

Panama Ombudsman, Eduardo Leblanc, will present to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Security, reports of the demonstrations and especially of the events and situations during the march of this 26 February, where a person with a disability was affected.

Leblanc, made a call for attention not only to the protesters but to the National Police (PN), so that the protests take place in recent days, after reports of  alleged abuses in shelters are carried out peacefully

 

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/ombudsman-submits-protest-report-to-un-office

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OPINION - Partners in crime

Posted 02/03/2021

For more than two weeks, citizens have been waiting for the PRD to set a date of appearance before the plenary session of the National Assembly - to answer a questionnaire about the scandal of the National Secretary for Children, Adolescents and Family (Senniaf) - of the current Minister of Social Development (Mides) and the former director and deputy director of Senniaf. However, there has been no way for them to say when they will answer the questions. This is the way in which the PRD freely and gracefully becomes a participant in scandals, even of this kind, in which minors are victims of sexual, psychological and various other types of abuse. It is the typical behavior of a party lacking respect for the law and the Constitution. From its guts came the current President, the head of Mides, –Daughter of a former PRD deputy– and the former director and deputy director –the latter daughter of a deputy minister–. They are ashamed because, unable to answer for their actions and omissions, they hide in the skirts of the Executive so that their incompetence does not become evident, and for this they have the support   of their people in the Assembly. Partners in crime! - LA PRENSA, Mar 2

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-partners-in-crime-1

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No impunity in shelters scandal - Caraballo

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Posted 02/03/2021

Attorney General Javier  Caraballo told journalists on  his first day in office Monday  March 1. “Speaking to you as a parent  (...) I can assure you that while I am in the Office of the Attorney General, I will supervise and guarantee that a dynamic, objective, exhaustive and efficient investigation is carried out in these cases," when asked about the situation with the alleged abuse and mistreatment in shelters.

He added that all people, regardless of their political, economic or religious status who have something to do or responsibility in these cases will be brought to justice .

He stressed that he will show that he does not belong to any political party, economic group, or religious body in this country and that the only commitment he has is to the Constitution.

He emphasized that the meetings he holds with the prosecutors are to guarantee the effectiveness of the results that the Public Ministry must give and that in the coming days, according to the situation that the cases merit, results will be seen.

After  Eduardo Ulloa's resignation, citizens have expressed their concern over the justice crisis and the lack of credibility in the Public Ministry, in high-profile cases.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/no-impunity-in-shelters-scandal-caraballo

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First resignation in shelter scandal

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Posted 04/03/2021

Mayra Inés Silvera, became the first board member to resign from the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf), after a reported altercation with the Ombudsman, Eduardo Leblanc.

The "encounter" took place on Wednesday and during this, the Ombudsman, backed by documents, questioned Silvera about her actions on the issue of mistreated and abused minors in shelters when she was an advisor to Senniaf reports La Estrella.  Leblanc also questioned Silvera about the treatment of migrant children in Panama. According to a source from the Presidency, during the meeting, the Ombudsman accused Silvera of knowing about the violation of the rights of migrant children from Venezuela in Darien.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/first-resignation-in-shelter-scandal

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