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Panama

Capital

Panama City

Territory

74,177km²

Population (2020)

4,314,768

GDP Total (2020)

52.94B USD

GDP Per Capita (2020)

12,269 USD

Icome Group

Upper middle income

Convention Implementation

63.4
In progress

Western Hemisphere Ranking

60.7

17th of 31 countries

Central America Ranking

65.0

6th of 8 countries

Corruption Resilience

61.3
Moderately Resilient

Western Hemisphere Ranking

54.4

10th of 31 countries

Central America Ranking

50.3

2nd of 8 countries

Convention Implementation

Score by thematic sections and measures

Prevention

Core-deficient
34.3

Western Hemisphere 46.3

Central America 50.9

Standards of Conduct

Core-deficient
40.6

Western Hemisphere 42.8

Central America 59.8

Enforcement of Standards of Conduct

Core-deficient
42.9

Western Hemisphere 50.6

Central America 62.1

Training of Public Officials

Core-deficient
21.8

Western Hemisphere 36.8

Central America 38.0

Asset and Conflicts of Interests Declarations

Core-deficient
33.5

Western Hemisphere 42.3

Central America 57.0

Transparency in Government Contracting

Core-deficient
31.2

Western Hemisphere 33.1

Central America 36.6

Elimination of Favorable Tax Treatment

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 47.1

Central America 65.1

Oversight Bodies

Core-deficient
21.8

Western Hemisphere 36.0

Central America 36.0

Measures to Deter Domestic and Foreign Bribery

Core-deficient
21.8

Western Hemisphere 36.7

Central America 53.9

Encouraging Participation by Civil Society

In progress
46.0

Western Hemisphere 43.0

Central America 58.1

Study of Other Prevention Measures

Core-deficient
32.8

Western Hemisphere 44.9

Central America 42.9

Criminalization and law enforcement

In progress
69.7

Western Hemisphere 61.1

Central America 65.0

Protection of Those who Report Acts of Corruption

Core-deficient
21.8

Western Hemisphere 30.7

Central America 42.1

Scope

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 67.7

Central America 75.9

Jurisdiction: Offense-in-Territory

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 74.6

Central America 90.0

Jurisdiction: Offense-by-National

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 51.9

Central America 69.8

Jurisdiction: Offender-in-Territory

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 58.8

Central America 55.0

Passive Public Bribery

In progress
53.1

Western Hemisphere 55.8

Central America 56.7

Active Public Bribery

In progress
53.1

Western Hemisphere 56.4

Central America 59.1

Abuse of Functions

In progress
59.3

Western Hemisphere 47.0

Central America 57.7

Money Laundering

In progress
59.3

Western Hemisphere 55.8

Central America 54.2

Participation and Attempt

In progress
50

Western Hemisphere 58.4

Central America 67.1

Active Foreign Bribery

Core-deficient
40.6

Western Hemisphere 39.0

Central America 51.7

Illicit Enrichment

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 54.7

Central America 69.8

Use of State Property

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 79.5

Central America 87.6

Illicit Acquisition of a Benefit

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 52.1

Central America 62.5

Public Embezzlement

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 77.6

Central America 87.6

Passive Foreign Bribery

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 25.6

Central America 33.9

Private Bribery

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 22.7

Central America 18.5

Private Embezzlement

Not Implemented
7.8

Western Hemisphere 64.7

Central America 63.2

Obstruction of Justice

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 71.4

Central America 74.0

Liability of Legal Persons

In progress
68.7

Western Hemisphere 61.3

Central America 61.0

Statute of Limitations

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 79.6

Central America 87.6

Prosecution, Adjudication and Sanctions

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 69.5

Central America 75.5

Consequences and Compensation

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 70.3

Central America 73.4

Cooperation With Law Enforcement

In progress
64.0

Western Hemisphere 72.2

Central America 79.2

Asset Recovery

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 66.4

Central America 72.7

International cooperation

Implemented
72.3

Western Hemisphere 68.9

Central America 74.5

Assistance Without Criminalization

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 79.8

Central America 89.0

Inclusion in Extradition Treaties

In progress
54.6

Western Hemisphere 55.1

Central America 55.8

Convention as Legal Basis for Extradition

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 47.5

Central America 57.6

Automatic Application Without Treaty

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 52.7

Central America 54.4

Prosecution Without Extradition

Core-deficient
28.9

Western Hemisphere 57.2

Central America 55.8

Custody

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 73.4

Central America 79.1

Assistance

In progress
54.6

Western Hemisphere 58.0

Central America 58.9

Impossibility of Claiming Bank Secrecy

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 84.0

Central America 98.2

Limited Use of Information

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 82.6

Central America 88.0

Nature of Act

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 84.3

Central America 97.8

Designate Central Authorities

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 75.9

Central America 90.2

Responsibilities of Central Authorities

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 71.5

Central America 72.7

Communication Between Central Authorities

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 67.3

Central America 73.6

Special Investigative Techniques

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 56.9

Central America 75.7

Technical Cooperation

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 62.8

Central America 69.9

Anti-corruption conventions timeline

199619971998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019202020212022

Conventions

  • IACAC - Inter-American Convention Against Corruption
  • UNCAC - United Nations Convention against Corruption
  • OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

Key events

  • Signed
  • Ratifed / acceded
  • Review rounds

Convention Implementation Analysis

Panama signed the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC) on March 29, 1996, and ratified it on July 20, 1998. It is a State Party to the Follow-Up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) since June 4, 2001. The country also signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on December 10, 2003, and subsequently ratified it on September 23, 2005. Accordingly, Panama has undergone five rounds of review under MESICIC, and one round of review under the UNCAC review mechanism (of which, for comparability purposes, only the first one was considered here).

Panama’s record in implementing its commitments to IACAC and UNCAC exhibits a number of successes but also a modicum of failures. With an overall score of 63.5, the measures adopted place the country at the middle point of compliance with international norms, surrounded by Venezuela (61.0), Bolivia (62.7), Jamaica (65.1), Ecuador (65.1). However, progress in implementation is unequally distributed. Roughly two thirds of all failing measures concern the prevention of corruption, while the average section scores for criminalization and international cooperation double that of prevention.

The prevention of corruption is significantly deficient, classified as “core-deficient” and with all but two measures receiving a failing score, including the training of public officials (21.9), the state of oversight bodies (21.9), transparency in government contracting (31.3), the systems for registering asset and conflict of interests' declarations (33.6), and the standards of conduct (40.6) and their enforcement (43.0), among others. Concerning the state of oversight bodies, the report of the fourth round of MESICIC (adopted in 2013) finds that, among other problems, “barely 15 of the 2,725 officials in the Office of the Attorney General are career civil servants” and that “the total budget of the four Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Offices in the past three years has amounted to less that 1% of the [Public Prosecution Service’s] overall budget.” Moreover, the reports find that “Panama’s regulatory framework does not clearly establish a national internal audit system, nor does it determine that the [Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic] is the central organ or technical governing body for that system.” The country only shows progress in regard to the initiatives to encourage the participation of civil society (46.1) and the elimination of favorable tax treatment for corrupt expenditure (50.8). Otherwise, no preventive measure within this section is classified as either implemented or unimplemented.

In terms of criminalization and law enforcement, Panama shows strong results. The country is found to have successfully implemented roughly half of its commitments, criminalizing embezzlement in the public sector, the illicit acquisition of a benefit (i.e., influence trading), the obstruction of justice, and the passive bribery of foreign officials (as required by UNCAC), among other actions. However, key measures remain in progress, such as those pertaining to illicit enrichment (50.8), active and passive bribery in the public sector (53.1), the abuse of functions (59.4), and money laundering (59.4). Two measures are considered to be deficient (although to different degrees): the protection of those who report acts of corruption (i.e., whistleblower protection) (21.9) and the criminalization of active bribery of foreign officials (40.6).

Panama is found fully compliant in its commitments to establish jurisdiction over the offenses covered by the conventions, including those that have been committed inside its territory, committed by a national, or when the offender is present in its territory, among other required forms. The country is also generally compliant with its commitments regarding international cooperation, with an average section score of 72.3 denoting mild implementation and only one measure assessed to be deficient at core—the possibility of prosecuting corrupt offenses when an extradition request has been denied (28.9).

Corruption Resilience

Score by indicator

Social Context

Resilient
76.0

Western Hemisphere 64.8

Central America 59.7

Quality of Government

Moderately Resilient
55.2

Western Hemisphere 50.6

Central America 47.3

Rule of Law

Moderately Resilient
46.6

Western Hemisphere 51.1

Central America 43.5

Business Stability

Moderately Resilient
58.6

Western Hemisphere 50.5

Central America 51.6

Violence & Security

Resilient
70.2

Western Hemisphere 55.0

Central America 49.1

Corruption Resilience score over the time

Analysis

Panama's social context indicator score for 2020 declined by 1.30 points from the previous year. Despite the decline in the country's indicator score from 2019, Panama's indicator score exceeds the Western Hemisphere average of 64.89 by 11.15 points. Panama's indicator has remained consistently high, only fluctuating within the 66.92 and 70.59 range. Within the Central America region, Panama has also consistently scored better than its subregional counterparts. Panama's social context indicator score for 2020 is primarily attributed to the successful guarantees of, and respect for, civil liberties and political rights within the country. Nevertheless, concerns over media freedom within the country have emerged, particularly in regard to journalists who face court proceedings while reporting on corruption-related issues or criticizing government policies. For example, libel and defamation charges have been brought against journalists who have reported on stories that are not favorable by the government, resulting in self-censorship. The wife of the former president Martinelli has sued several media outlets to halt the investigation and report on the Odebrecht scandal.

With regard to the quality of governance and institutions, Panama’s score declined in 2020 by 1.51 points from the previous year. Despite the decrease, the country’s score remains slightly above the Western Hemisphere country average of 50.63 by 5.57 points. Over the last ten years, the country's indicator score has consistently fallen. However, throughout the decade Panama has held an average score that ranged between 53.11 to 57.40, in 2014 to 2017, respectively. Panama's quality of government indicator score is primarily influenced by corruption, challenges with the constraints on the government's power, and impartial administration.

Panama's rule of law indicator for 2020 amounted to a score of 46.60, marking a decrease of 0.40 points from the previous year. Unlike the previous indicators, the rule of law indicator in Panama falls below the Western Hemisphere countries average of 51.15 by 4.55 points. Throughout the decade, the country's indicator score has varied, where the country achieved its highest score in 2012 with 50.10, and its lowest score in 2015 with 46.13. The drop in the country's score took place around the same time the Odebrecht scandal had come to light. The country's rule of law indicator is large impacted by widespread corruption and inefficiencies with the judicial system.

The country's business stability indicator decreased in 2020 by 1.96 points from the previous year, amounting to a score of 58.66, which exceeds the Western Hemisphere average (50.53) by 8.13 points. Throughout the decade, the country's indicator score has varied, where it achieved its highest score in 2018 with 60.81 and its lowest score in 2013 with 54.76. Panama's 2020 business stability indicator is attributed to an adequate regulatory system which impacts private sector businesses.

In terms of violence and security, Panama's 2020 indicator score declined by 7.15 points from the previous year, resulting in a score of 70.21. Despite the decline in the country's indicator, Panama's score falls well above the Western Hemisphere average of 55.04 and exceeds the average by 15.17 points for 2020. Compared to its counterparts in the Western Hemisphere and particularly, the Central American region, Panama has been consistently a top performer for the violence and security indicator. Panama's indicator score is attributed to lower homicide rates and criminal activities than its counterparts in the region.

Transparency Record

Main Reporting NGO

Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana

Report date

Dec-2012

Review year

2011-2012

Document reviewed

Executive Summary

language

Spanish

Did the government make public the contact details before the country focal point? Yes
Was civil society consulted in preparation for the self-assessment? No
Was civil society invited to provide information to the official reviewers? Yes
Was the self-assessment published online or provided to CSOs? No

The civil society parallel review report for Panama was written by the Foundation for the Development of Citizen Freedom (la Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana), a non-profit organization which based their findings on information reported during the 2011-2012 period. The report assessed Panama’s compliance with articles 15, 16, 17, 23, 26, 32, 33, and 46 of chapters III and IV of UNCAC. In terms of the availability of information, the authors noted that the Attorney General’s office was very open to providing statistical data on UNCAC-related crimes. However, these statistics were not readily available or accessible online. Due to existing policies, only the parties to proceedings may access information about their cases during investigations. In terms of Panama’s legal framework, the country enacted a new penal code in 2007 which contains regulations that are consistent with UNCAC. Moreover, the country has codified all conduct considered corrupt into its legislation.

However, the country faces obstacles in its implementation and enforcement—namely in obtaining evidence, inter-institutional cooperation and coordination, and in the protection of whistleblowers and witnesses. While these issues have been integrated into the state’s legislation, the programs require sufficient budgets to facilitate their implementation. The report concludes its assessment by highlighting areas for priority action, namely the approval of electoral reforms, the reinforcement of compliance with Article 20 (illicit enrichment), the development of penalties for legal persons who benefit from crimes of corruption, and the establishment of necessary protections for whistleblowers and witnesses in corruption cases.