UN urges Panama to approve sex ed law

After an extensive report completed by The United Nations (UN), Panama is being urged to continue the political dialogue that ended last year on a law that includes concerning comprehensive sexual and reproductive education, aimed at adolescents in the compulsory school curriculum.

The conclusion is one of over 40 recommendations made after the UN evaluations, which include legal regulation and budget distribution.

The UN is urging Panama that recommended measures be taken to "bring national law into line with the convention" cautioning that the current Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty that the country signed and ratified in 1990, is failing. 

In the report, the agency aims to define a comprehensive national strategy for children and national action. It brings to light that Panama has not yet adopted a law on comprehensive protection for its youth and that this is due "to a lack of support from a certain sector of society". 

The report speaks about the need for a legal framework for the protection of the rights of children and youth referring to the current legislation being discussed. "In 2015 a process was initiated to draw up a new bill on establishing a system of guarantees and comprehensive protection for the rights of children and young persons, on the basis of the principles and provisions of the Convention, with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This process is being led by the Ministry of Social Development, through an interagency working group." 

While pushing for comprehensive sexual and reproductive education as part of  school curriculum The UN also urged Panama in "guaranteeing adolescents easy access to affordable contraceptives," and "decriminalize abortion in all cases," as well as to "ensure that girls have access to safe abortion and post-abortion services and review legislation to safeguard the interests of pregnant girls and ensure that their opinions are always heard and given due consideration".

The fifth and sixth periodic report of Panama under the Convention on the Rights of the Child was presented at The Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva on the 18th of January 2018. 

In the meetings, Yazmin Cardenas, Director of the National Secretariat of Childhood, Adolescence and Family of Panama, thanked the Committee for all the recommendations and observations. "The dialogue was an opportunity for the Government to take stock of the advancements, efforts and challenges."  Ms. Cardenas added that the Government was aware that it needed to improve its monitoring and data collection on children’s issues.  She reiterated Panama’s commitment to continue a constructive and participative dialogue with the Committee and other United Nations treaty bodies.  

Panama must present the next report in which it reports on its progress in this matter on January 10, 2023.