Panama: Revert Expulsion of Journalists

Francisco José (Paco) Gómez Nadal and María Pilar Chato Carral are two Spanish citizens who were detained, arrested, and arbitrarily expelled from Panama for engaging in journalism critical of the Panamanian government and for conducting legitimate activities as human rights defenders. HRF has called on the president of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, to allow both journalists to return to Panama.

Panama: Revert Expulsion of Journalists

On February 26, 2011, Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato —both journalists and volunteers at the human rights organization, Human Rights Everywhere (HREV)—were arrested while monitoring a small demonstration of the Ngäbe and Buglé indigenous peoples protesting against reforms made to the Mineral Resources Code of Panama. The arrest took place when Gómez Nadal, who was visibly wearing his HREV credentials, started filming a group of 40 police officers as they advanced to arrest demonstrators blocking traffic on a street in the vicinity of Panama’s National Assembly. Two days later, the National Immigration Service of Panama (SNM) ordered the “voluntary repatriation” of both Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato.

In its report on the case HRF establishes that the “voluntary repatriation” of Gómez Nadal and Pilar Chato took place without due process guarantees and violated the prohibition of arbitrary expulsion of aliens, established in Article 22.6 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.