In a press release issued on 7 February 2012, the Special Rapporteur urged the Government of Panama and indigenous peoples to initiate a dialogue due to the situation of tension and violence following indigenous protests. In recent days, Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous representatives have blocked different points of the Inter-American highway in protest of proposed mining and hydroelectric activities on their territories. During these protests, there have been clashes with the police resulting in injuries, detentions and the death of one indigenous protester. Moreover, representatives of the Emberá and Wounaan and other indigenous peoples have made a public call denouncing the lack of legalization of their lands and stating they will begin demonstrations in solidarity with the Ngäbe-Buglé peoples.
The Special Rapporteur also urged the Government of Panama to take steps to ensure the safety and integrity of people participating in the protests, and to investigate and clarify the circumstances of the death of an indigenous protester and sanction those responsible.