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A team of prosecutors, psychologists, and social workers interviewed over 280 children and adolescents who live or lived in these institutions.
Panama's Attorney General Javier Caraballo Tuesday informed that the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) identified 20 victims and opened 18 criminal cases connected to the child sex abuses committed in public shelters.
The MP carried out inspections in 56 shelters where any child or adolescent believed to be a possible victim was removed from these facilities and relocated.
Since March 1, a team of prosecutors, psychologists, and social workers has interviewed over 280 children and adolescents who live or lived in the shelters. So far, the MP has charged five people for allegedly committing criminal acts.
The Ombudsman's Office regretted that minors spend up to 5 years in these shelters instead of weeks or months. Only 13 shelters had technical and health personnel, social workers, and nutritionists to assist the minors.
The lack of suitable personnel for children and the little assistance from several institutions such as the Education, Health, and Social Development Ministries are problems identified in the shelters' inspections.
The Ombudsman's Office reported 976 institutionalized children, including 365 boys, 303 girls, 251 male and female adolescents, 36 male adults, and 20 adult females. There were minors with disabilities.
In February, the Parliament's Women, Children, Youth and Family Commission voiced the accusation of abuse, violence, and physical mistreatment of children and adolescents in the shelters, following hundreds of testimonies and an investigation that lasted six months.