Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Public Ministry investigates cases of sexual abuse in state financed youth shelters

Public Ministry investigates cases of sexual abuse in state financed youth shelters

The Family Section of the Metropolitan Prosecutor's Office began an investigation into the complaints of sexual abuse against children and adolescents in shelters financed and supervised by the State, reported the Public Ministry (MP).
The MP indicated that he asked the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and the Family (Senniaf), the Ministry of Social Development (Mides) and the National Assembly (AN) for a report on the complaints.

The investigation is announced days after a subcommittee of the Assembly published a report revealing that dozens of minors were sexually abused and physically and psychologically mistreated by their caregivers during the last 4 years, in at least 12 shelters in Panama.

Mayra Silvera, director of Senniaf, said recently that she was awaiting the report prepared by the commission, which consists of more than 400 pages.

The Mides also ruled on the matter. The entity indicated that the homes and shelters for children and adolescents, for the most part, are administered by non-governmental organizations, foundations and churches; and they assign subsidies to those who present projects for care, protection and care.

For her part, the former deputy director of Senniaf, Carla García, said that during her tenure she fulfilled functions in the social area and as a liaison with other institutions, and that issues related to the shelters were the function of the technical secretariat, who had strict instructions and they responded to the general direction.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) regretted the allegations of sexual abuse and asked the Panamanian authorities that the relevant investigations be carried out as soon as possible.

The international organization also urged Panama to proceed urgently with a structural reform of the child and adolescent protection system.

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