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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04PANAMA2153
2004-08-24 11:47:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Panama
Cable title:  

PANAMA CHILD LABOR UPDATE FOR TRADE DEVELOPMENT

Tags:   EAID  ELAB  ETRD  PHUM  SOCI  PM  LABOR  HUMAN  RIGHTSPOLMIL 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 PANAMA 002153 

SIPDIS


STATE FOR DRL/IL (MARINDA HARPOLE), EB, WHA/PPC, AND WHA/CEN
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CEN
DOL/ILAB (TINA FAULKNER)


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ELAB ETRD PHUM SOCI PM LABOR HUMAN RIGHTSPOLMIL
SUBJECT: PANAMA CHILD LABOR UPDATE FOR TRADE DEVELOPMENT
ACT REPORT


REF: A. STATE 163967

B. 03 PANAMA 02286


----------
Summary
----------


The GOP made progress toward eliminating the worst
forms of child labor in 2004. It worked with ILO/IPEC to
begin to identify the worst forms of child labor, enacted a
new law aimed at combating child commercial sexual
exploitation, and created a regional subcommittee to combat
the use of children as household servants. In response to
Reftel A, this cable summarizes last year's child labor cable
(Reftel B). As requested in Reftel A, copies of all original
data sources will be sent to DOL via diplomatic pouch. End
Summary.


-------------------------------------------

A. Does Panama have adequate laws and
regulations proscribing the worst forms of
child labor?
-------------------------------------------


- Panama ratified ILO Convention 182 in May 2000.


- The minimum age for basic employment in Panama is 14 years,
although children between 13 and 14 years may work under
certain conditions in agriculture and light domestic
labor. Minors under the age of 18 years may not engage in
hazardous labor.


- Panama's labor laws cover all sectors.


- Panama's labor code prohibits minors from engaging in work
that may be dangerous to the "life, health or morality" of
the child. This includes work in businesses which serve
alcohol, all forms of transportation, work with electricity,
work with explosive or flammable material, work in mines, and
work with radioactive substances.


- The ability to work at age 14 is contingent upon completion
of primary school. If this condition is not met, the limit
is 15 years of age. Children under 16 may not work overtime.
Children under 18 may not work at night.


--------------------------------------------
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 PANAMA 002153

SIPDIS


STATE FOR DRL/IL (MARINDA HARPOLE), EB, WHA/PPC, AND WHA/CEN
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CEN
DOL/ILAB (TINA FAULKNER)


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ELAB ETRD PHUM SOCI PM LABOR HUMAN RIGHTSPOLMIL
SUBJECT: PANAMA CHILD LABOR UPDATE FOR TRADE DEVELOPMENT
ACT REPORT


REF: A. STATE 163967

B. 03 PANAMA 02286


--------------
Summary
--------------


The GOP made progress toward eliminating the worst
forms of child labor in 2004. It worked with ILO/IPEC to
begin to identify the worst forms of child labor, enacted a
new law aimed at combating child commercial sexual
exploitation, and created a regional subcommittee to combat
the use of children as household servants. In response to
Reftel A, this cable summarizes last year's child labor cable
(Reftel B). As requested in Reftel A, copies of all original
data sources will be sent to DOL via diplomatic pouch. End
Summary.


--------------

A. Does Panama have adequate laws and
regulations proscribing the worst forms of
child labor?
--------------


- Panama ratified ILO Convention 182 in May 2000.


- The minimum age for basic employment in Panama is 14 years,
although children between 13 and 14 years may work under
certain conditions in agriculture and light domestic
labor. Minors under the age of 18 years may not engage in
hazardous labor.


- Panama's labor laws cover all sectors.


- Panama's labor code prohibits minors from engaging in work
that may be dangerous to the "life, health or morality" of
the child. This includes work in businesses which serve
alcohol, all forms of transportation, work with electricity,
work with explosive or flammable material, work in mines, and
work with radioactive substances.


- The ability to work at age 14 is contingent upon completion
of primary school. If this condition is not met, the limit
is 15 years of age. Children under 16 may not work overtime.
Children under 18 may not work at night.


--------------

1. Has the GOP developed a list of
occupations considered to be the worst forms
of child labor?
--------------


- In 2002, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) fully funded a
$1 million program with the International Labor
Organization/Intern
ational Programme on the Elimination of
Child Labor (ILO/IPEC) to work with the GOP to create a
Country Program to Combat Child Labor and to define the worst
forms of child labor in Panama. The program aims to remove
1,000 children from the worst forms of child labor by the
program's end in December 2005.


- Through the program, the Ministry of Labor's Committee for
the Eradication of Child Labor and ILO/IPEC have organized a
series of workshops to create the Country Program to Combat
the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Also, ILO/IPEC and the
Ministry of Labor's National Labor Inspection Directorate
have conducted consultative seminars to identify the Worst
Forms of Child Labor in Panama in two provinces. ILO/IPEC
believes the GOP will have finished the consultative process
and have identified the worst forms of Child Labor by
December 2004.


- The Inspection Directorate and ILO/IPEC have also studied
child domestic labor in Panama, child commercial sexual
exploitation in Panama, and child labor in the coffee
industry in Panama. The Inspection Directorate and ILO/IPEC
have analyzed the results of a 2000 survey on Child Labor
conducted by the GOP Statistics Office. The GOP is also
studying child labor in car washes in Panama.


--------------

B. Does Panama have adequate laws
and regulations for the implementation
and enforcement of such measures?
--------------


- Businesses that employ underage children or violate in
other ways the laws regarding employment of minors can face a
$50 - $700 fine.


- If a child's work is found to be abusive (defined as any
activity that may affect the physical or mental health of a
child), the employer may face a two-to-six year prison
sentence.


- Children over 12 are permitted to do light work as
household servants only if the Ministry of Labor authorizes
the work and the work is done outside of school hours. Many
employers are not aware of this provision and children often
work as household servants without permission.


-------------- --

1. Have there have been any recent
governmental or judicial initiatives to
strengthen or enforce child labor legislation
and regulations?
-------------- --


- On March 31, 2004, the GOP enacted Law 16 to strengthen
proscriptions against child sexual exploitation by
criminalizing and/or increasing penalties for (a) corruption
of minors; (b) pimping; (c) maintaining sexual relations with
a child; (d) paying minors for sex; (e) use, exhibition, or
distribution of pornography containing minors (including
internet porn); (f) internet sexual predation; (g) showing
pornography to children; and (h) promotion of sex tourism
that includes minors.


- Law 16 contains several important measures to increase
enforcement of these proscriptions. First, it eliminates the
need for a formal complaint before the police and
prosecutor's office can investigate sex crimes. Under
certain circumstances, the law also permits undercover
operations and phone and computer wiretapping in sex crimes
cases. In addition, the law delays the running of the
statute of limitations in cases of sex crimes against minors
until the victim is an adult. Finally, the law eliminates
bail in sex crime cases in which a minor is a victim.


- The new law also creates and imposes taxes to fund the
National Commission for the Prevention of Sex Crimes and
Sexual Exploitation (CONAPREDES). CONAPREDES studies the
mechanisms for the prevention and eradication of crimes of
sexual exploitation and includes:


a. The Attorney General;


b. The Minister of Youth, Women, Family, and Children;


c. The Minister of Government and Justice;


d. The Minister of Economy and Finances;


e. The Ministry of Education;


f. The Ministry of Health;


g. The President Judge of Juvenile Court;


h. The President of the Commission of Women's Issues,
Children's Rights, Youth, and Family of the Legislative
Assembly;


i. The Director of The Judicial Technical Police;


j. A coordinator designated by the Executive;


l. A representative of the Ombudsman's Office;


m. A representative of the National Network of Youth
and Children;


n. A representative from the National Counsel of Youth
and Adolescence; and


o. A representative of the lawyers' union.


- By executive decree on March 31, 2004, the Ministry of
Government and Justice created a commission to make
recommendations regarding the problem of Trafficking in
Persons (TIP).


- By executive decree on September 24, 2003, the Ministry of
Labor created the Network of Security and Health Against
Unhealthy and Dangerous Child Labor to increase government
coordination and compliance with norms against child labor.
The network includes:


a. Ministry of Labor;


b. The Ministry of Health;


c. The Ministry of Education;


d. The Ministry of Youth, Children, Women, and Family;


e. Social Security;


f. Council of Health, Security and the Environment of
Panama;


g. The Panama Canal Authority;


h. Panama Fire Department;


i. National System of Civil Protection;


j. National Police;


k. Maritime Authority;


l. Legislative Assembly; and


m. an institute, a foundation, and two universities.


- In March 2004, the GOP (with ILO/IPEC and the Canadian
government) created the first regional Subcommittee to
Eradicate Child Labor in the Province of Veraguas. According
to an ILO/OIT technical report, through the Subcommittee nine
girls have been retired from domestic (household servant)
labor, three inserted in formal education, and five in
informal education. In addition, the Subcommittee discovered
recruiters who were charging at least $10-$20 per head to
find young girls for domestic work in Panama City and other
parts of the country, sometimes in conditions of near
slavery. Generally, the girl would need to pay the money
herself, often through a deduction from her first two weeks
of pay. The Subcommittee worked with a local transportation
company to deny service to girls brought by recruiters if the
girls did not have a parental permission card and work
authorization from the Ministry of Labor.


- The Technical Secretary of the Committee to Eradicate
Child Labor conducted weekly meetings to coordinate programs
during harvest time.


- The GOP toured coffee plantations in Chiriqui Province.




--------------

2. Has the GOP designated an
authority to implement and enforce child
labor laws and regulations?
--------------


- The Ministry of Labor's National Labor Inspection
Directorate has the responsibility, along with its Ministry
of Labor's Child Labor Unit, of enforcing all the laws in
Panama's Labor Code and Family Code, as well as ILO
Conventions 138 and 182. The Child Labor Unit is charged
with conducting inspections; informing employers, parents,
and children who solicit work permits of their rights and
responsibilities; soliciting sanctions from the Inspection
Directorate; coordinating with the Ministry of Youth, Women,
Children, and Family in child labor cases; and collaborating
and participating in studies.


- The GOP also uses or gives authority to the Committee for
the Eradication of Child Labor and the Protection of Child
Workers, the Network of Security and Health Against Unhealthy
and Dangerous Child Labor, the Technical Judicial Police's
Sex Crime Unit, and the Public Ministry's Sex Crimes
Prosecutor's Office.


-------------- --------------

3. What are the mechanisms for receiving,
investigating, and addressing child labor complaints?
-------------- --------------


- The Child Labor Unit of the National Labor Inspection
Directorate investigates complaints and violations as follows:


a. A complaint is received, either from the child, a
guardian, or other person involved.


b. The complaint is sent to the Labor Inspector to determine
if any laws have been broken.


c. If a law has been broken, the Labor Inspector makes
recommendations to fix the problem.


d. A follow-up investigation is performed to determine if
the recommendations were implemented.
e. If not, the Inspector turns the case over to the
judiciary for action.


- The Child Labor Unit has a hotline for complaints.
According to ILO/IPEC, the Child Labor Unit accomplishes its
job under difficult conditions, since the Child Labor Office
lacks privacy and the interviewer needs to ask others to
leave in order to take a complaint.


- The GOP is working with ILO/IPEC to create a procedures
manual for cases involving child household servant labor
because, among other complicating factors, the cases involve
personal residences.


- With respect to commercial sexual exploitation of children,
The Technical Judicial Police's Sex Crimes Unit receives
complaints. The Sex Crimes Unit has social workers and
psychologists who interview minors. Under the new Law 16
(see above), the GOP can conduct its own investigations
without receiving a formal complaint. If a complaint is made
or an individual is charged, the Public Ministry's Sex Crimes
Prosecutor coordinates the case. In sexual abuse cases,
minors are also interviewed by a psychologist and a
psychiatrist at the GOP's Forensic Center. The Forensic
Center lacks a separate victims reception area, so victims
wait in the same room with criminals sent for examinations.
If the psychologist or psychiatrist determines that a minor
is medically unable to continue being questioned, the
Prosecutor cannot talk to the victim. The case can still be
prosecuted based on the evidence already collected, including
the examinations by social workers, psychologists, and
psychiatrists.


-------------- -

4. What level of resources does the GOP
devote to investigating exploitative
child labor cases throughout the country?
-------------- -


a. Technical and Human Resources:


- The Child Labor Unit has an interdisciplinary team
composed of three social workers, one psychologist, and three
child labor inspectors. The Child Labor Unit also has the
help of 10-15 inspectors from other departments for raids in
the urban and rural areas.


b. Information Resources:


- The Child Labor Unit has two computers, two printers, one
telephone line, and one internet line. The Unit also has an
additional computer that is used to maintain a child labor
database for Panama. The Unit has many books about child
labor, legislation, statistics, and national and regional
action plans.


c. Economic Resources:


- The GOP funds inspection trips to potential and probable
child labor areas within Panama and the monthly salaries of
inspectors, social workers, psychologist, secretaries, and
statistic technicians.


- Of the $599,659 that the Government of Panama estimates as
its contribution of the Country Program to Eradicate Child
Labor (the ILO/IPEC Program funded through DOL discussed
above), approximately $173,901 are budgeted for direct action
programs, which include investigation and development of 1000
cases of the most dangerous forms of child labor.


- According to ILO/IPEC, the Technical Judicial Police and
the Public Ministry spends approximately $8,000-$10,000 per
month on the investigation of sexual exploitation cases in
general.


- According to ILO/IPEC, the Technical Judicial Police
estimates that the GOP's program to implement Law 16 (see
above) by investigating commercial sex crimes (both child and
adult) will cost $958,690. This program is not yet funded.




--------------

5. How many child labor inspections
are conducted annually in Panama?
--------------


- From October 2003 to May 2004, the Child Labor Unit
conducted 130 routine inspections of children working,
interviewed 418 minors, reviewed 356 requests for work
authorizatioon, and granted 89 requests for work
authorization.


-------------- --------------

6. How many inspections have resulted in
fines, penalties, or convictions in Panama?
-------------- --------------


- The GOP's penalty regime for child labor is directed at
the formal sector and fining businesses. However, according
to a 2003 analysis by ILO/IPEC of the GOP Statistics Office's
2000 Survey of Child Labor, more than half of the children
and adolescents employed in Panama are employed in the
informal or semi-formal sectors.


- In the half year period from September 2003 to February
2003, the Child Labor Unit requested penalties from the
Inspection Directorate against five businesses for child
labor violations. The Inspection Directorate fined two of
the businesses and dismissed the other two cases for lack of
documentation.


-------------- --------------

7. Has the GOP provided awareness raising
and/or training activities for government
officials in charge of enforcing child labor laws?
-------------- --------------


- The GOP has trained its personnel in the following
subjects through forums, workshops, classes, meetings, and
conferences:


a. Domestic child workers from the perspective of different
churches;


b. Treatment of child victims of sexual exploitation;


c. Second Report regarding the Implementation of the
Convention of the Rights of the Child before the National
Committee of Children's Rights;


d. Creation of the Network of Security and Health in
Dangerous Child Work in Latin America (regional);


e. Child Domestic Work (11 sensitivity workshops);


f. Creation of the Network for Security and Health in
Dangerous Child Work;


g. Child commercial sexual exploitation (four sensitivity
workshops);


h. Progressive elimination of child labor in Panama;


i. National Legislation related to child domestic work with
ILO/IPEC, the Ombudsman's Office, and the Ministry of Labor;


j. Intervention in Child Commercial Sexual Exploitation with
ILO/IPEC and the Ministry of Youth, Women, Children, and
Family;


k. Study with ILO/IPEC regarding child packers in
supermarkets and meeting with supermarket management;


l. Child Labor in its Worst Forms; and


m. Coffee growers and indigenous comarcal authorities
(meetings).




- The judiciary, the Public Ministry, the National Police,
and the Ministry of Labor have participated in the above
training.


- The GOP has also been training the National Technical
Police, the Public Ministry, The Judiciary, the Ministry of
Youth, Women, Children, and the Family, the Ministry of
Health, the Ministry of Education, and non-governmental
organizations in the new Law 16 (see above) regarding child
sexual exploitation. In July 2004, the GOP, with assistance
from the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Inspection
and ILO/IPEC, conducted two, week-long training programs for
the Judicial Technical Police in child sexual exploitation.


-------------- --------------

C. Do social programs exist in Panama to
prevent the engagement of children in the worst
forms of child labor and to assist in the removal
of children engaged in the worst forms of child
labor?
-------------- --------------


- The Ministry of Youth, Women, Children, and Family
maintains training and assistance centers for children living
in urban and rural areas. The centers provide health care,
educational opportunities, and vocational and social skills
training to children and their families in an effort to
prevent child labor.


- The Ministry of Education conducts a program for youth in
the provinces of Panama and Colon called, In Search of a
Better Tomorrow, which aims to encourage children to finish
primary school.


- The NGO Casa Esperanza, which receives about 3% of its
budget from the GOP, contacted 1,344 children and adolescent
workers in the provinces of Panama, Colon, Cocle and Chiriqui
in 2003. In August 2004, Casa Esperanza announced that
during the past four years, it had retired 1,000 children
under the age of 14 from work in 13 different coffee
plantations.


- The Subcommittee for Eradication of Child Labor in Veraguas
removed nine children from domestic work between March and
July 2004 (see above).


- Primary schooling is widely available in Panama. Primary
schools can usually be found even in small, remote villages.


- School is compulsory for all children through grade 6 and
available publicly through grade 12.


- Primary and secondary education in Panama is free, but many
rural areas do not have access to secondary education, and
the GOP does not cover transportation costs.


- In 2003, according to the GOP Statistics Office, 419,903
students enrolled in primary school in Panama. 413,067
finished the school year.


- As part of the Country Program to Eliminate Child Labor
(see above), in 2004 ILO/IPEC surveyed 515 child and
adolescent workers not employed as domestics in two urban
areas of Panama. Only 391 (70.1%) of the surveyed attend
school. Girls attended at a higher level than boys. For
5-14 year olds, 13.7% did not attend school. 47.7% of boys
and 62.5% of girls between the ages of 15-17 did not attend
school. Approximately one half of the children and
adolescents surveyed stated that they worked all day,
suggesting that they worked full time and went to school
simultaneously.


-------------- -

D. Does Panama have a comprehensive policy to
eliminate of the worst forms of child labor?
-------------- -


- Through the Country Program for Combating the Worst Forms
of Child Labor in Panama (funded by USDOL), the GOP is
working to create a program document and to identify the
worst forms of child labor. ILO/IPEC expects the GOP will
have identified the worst forms of child labor by December
2004, even accounting for delays because of the change in
government on September 1.


- The GOP's policy to eliminate child labor includes not
just the Ministry of Labor, but also the Ministry of
Education; the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Youth,
Women, Family, and Children; the Technical Judicial Police's
Sex Crimes Unit; the Public Ministry's Sex Crime Prosecutor;
other ministries; a national commission; a national network;
a national committee; churches; and nonprofit organizations.


-------------- --------------

E. Is Panama making continual progress toward
eliminating the worst forms of child labor?
-------------- --------------


- The child labor situation in Panama includes commercial
sexual exploitation, agricultural labor, child labor as
domestics, and urban work by grocery car washers, grocery
baggers, and bus assistants.


- A survey of Child Labor by the GOP Statistics Office in
October 2000, indicated that 7.6% (57,524) of children
between the ages of 5 and 17 are economically active with
83.4% of them employed and 16.6% of them unemployed. Of
those employed, 76.8% were boys and 23.1% were girls.


- As discussed above, in 2004 the GOP made progress toward
eliminating the worst forms of child labor through its work
with ILO/IPEC to begin identifying the worst forms of child
labor; by enacting Law 16 on March 31, 2004 and training the
Technical Judicial Police and other agencies in this law; by
creating the Subcommittee for the Eradication of Child labor
in Veraguas province to combat child labor as domestics; and
by studying the problem of child labor in two urban areas.


- The GOP supported DOL efforts to begin a Child Labor
Education Initiative Program in Panama in the agricultural
sector. An NGO, partially funded by the GOP, continued to
remove children from agricultural labor. The Ministry of
Youth, Women, Family, and Children maintained its training
and assistance centers.


WATT