Defensoría del Pueblo Receives 17 Complaints About the Use of Force and Tear Gas in Protests - Expat Community

Defensoría del Pueblo Receives 17 Complaints About the Use of Force and Tear Gas in Protests

Nov 3, 2023 | News & Articles, Panama | 0 comments

On November 1, the Office of the Ombudsman (Defensoría del Pueblo) presented a preliminary report on the protests against the mining contract that have been ongoing since October 19th until October 31st.


Eduardo Leblanc González, the Ombudsman, stated that they have initiated investigations based on 17 complaints, many of which concern the use of tear gas and the excessive use of force by the National Police’s crowd control units during the protests.


He expressed his concerns about the escalating violence, the use of force, and the excessive deployment of tear gas in various areas of the country. These actions not only affect the protesters but also innocent bystanders.


The Ombudsman pointed out that they have received complaints regarding the use of expired tear gas and the case of a photographer, Aubrey Baxter, who lost one of his eyes.


Additionally, the Directorate for the Protection of Women’s Rights is following up on a case in which a woman alleged, through social media, that she was physically and verbally assaulted by police officers. These allegations may indicate violations of human rights.


During the report presentation, Leblanc González called on the National Police to comply with Law 18 of June 1997, which addresses the limited use of force. According to this law, the principles of proportionality, rationality, identification of the aggressor, and, above all, respect for human rights must guide police operations.


At the same time, he urged protesters and organized groups to fully comply with the request for a humanitarian corridor, ensuring that people can attend their appointments, access necessary medications, and prevent the loss of perishable goods and other products. The situation surrounding these protests continues to evolve, with ongoing tensions and issues requiring attention and resolution. –

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