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Recommendations for Action
Thursday, September 05, 2013

The international community should:

• Recognize that despite the ongoing peace process, displacement from the Colombian armed conflict continues and that Colombia’s neighbors continue to require support to respond to the protection needs of newly arrived refugees.

• Continue to fund assistance programs for refugees within Panama and support the resettlement of particularly vulnerable refugees.

• Raise concerns about the flawed refugee status determination procedure and urge the Panamanian government to streamline it and make it more transparent.

The Panamanian government should:

• Ensure all migration authorities and SENAFRON (Panamanian Border Patrol) are trained to refer people requesting asylum to ONPAR; that people in the process of applying for asylum are not deported and that NGOs who educate people about their rights and provide legal assistance be granted access to all detention centers.

• Standardize procedures and require migration and law enforcement authorities to verify the status of foreign detainees upon detention to ensure that no person in need of international protection is deported in violation of the non-refoulement principle and obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention.

• Develop a procedure to respond to unaccompanied children and train all relevant officials in it, fully acknowledging the particular rights, needs and vulnerabilities of children.

• Use the eligibility screening to exclude only those applications based on manifestly unqualified, abusive, or illegitimate claims, not as a filter that prevents the majority of cases from entering the full process.

• Provide longer-term (one or two year) documentation for those in the process of applying for refugee status; link refugee status determination and the work permit so they are provided at the same time; and remove the word refugee from identity documents to minimize discrimination.

• Develop mechanisms to protect and rehabilitate victims of trafficking and prosecute traffickers.

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