back to the Immigration Detention Monitor

07 June 2020 – Panama

Image of Humanitarian Temporary Station for Migrants in Panama in 2019, (IOM,
Image of Humanitarian Temporary Station for Migrants in Panama in 2019, (IOM, "Reporte de Monitoreo - Darien," 2 September 2019,

As reported previously on this platform (see the 1 June Panama update), Panama has shifted many undocumented migrants to the border with Costa Rica. The two countries have an agreement regarding migrant mobility, but the agreement cannot be enforced as Nicaragua has closed its borders. The director of the immigration authority in Costa Rica, Raquel Vargas, said that “non-citizens in Panama will not cross to Costa Rica” as Nicaragua has announced they would block the path for migrants. This has left thousands of third-country nationals in limbo in Panama, according to the UN human rights regional office in Panama ROCA.

In an email to the GDP (5 June), the UN office reported that “in Panama, there are Humanitarian Temporary Stations for Migrants on the borders with Colombia and Costa Rica. Currently, there are more than 2,500 migrants from Haiti, Cuba, African and Asian countries who are in detention waiting for the borders to open to continue their journey to the North.” The UN office pointed to a recent ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which was previously discussed on this platform, saying that the court had “issued precautionary measures to Panama to protect the integrity and health of these people, given that they are in overcrowded conditions and facing an outbreak of COVID-19.”