Manuel Noriega was responsible for many crimes, including drug trafficking, racketeering, and even murder. But the crimes that most affected the people of Panama, and shocked others in the United States and around the globe, were the multiple accounts of human rights violations. Specifically, violations of:
- Right to democracy. The freedom of democracy was violated twice during Noriega's rule in Panama. Once in 1984 when Noriega rigged the presidential election, and a second time in 1989, when he rigged the presidential election once again.
- Freedom of the press. The freedom of press was violated many times during Noriega's dictatorship. One case was in 1986, when Roberto Eisenmann, the editor for one of Panama's biggest newspapers, La Prensa, received death threats from Manuel Noriega after criticizing the general. Scared for his life, Eisenmann fled to Miami. There are also many accounts of Manuel Noriega stopping the production of all newspapers and news programs after public criticism.
- Freedom of speech and assembly. Noriega had a band of gangsters that called themselves the dignity battalion that would kill or beat anybody upon his command. In 1985, an outspoken critic of Noriega's regime was found beheaded outside the Panamanian border. The military was blamed. In 1989, Noriega's dignity battalion beat one of Noriega's political opponents, Guillermo Ford. Caught in photograph, this brutal act shocked the United States when the photo was put into newspapers and inspired American sympathy for the Panamanian people and support for U.S. intervention.
- Right to a fair trial. The right to a fair trial was violated many times when political opponents of Noriega were imprisoned for no particular reason.