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Panama as a Failing (Failed?) State -- Freedom of the Press and Human Rights Under Attack Through Legal Processes; Asset Seizures as a Political Weapon; Judicial Corruption; Former President Balladares Freezes La Prensa Assets, etc.

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Political parties, justice get failing grades

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ONLY 10% of Panamanians, put any trust in the country’s five political parties, while  19% trusted the executive and 22%  the judiciary. report Latinobarómetro report 2017, made public on October 26.

The study across Latin America involved interviews of 20,000 people in 18 countries including   1,000 in the isthmus.

The level of trust in political parties was similar to the response across  the board. But in neighboring Costa Rica, 45% said they trusted the Judiciary, which made it the region with the highest belief in the institutions of justice.

The study also says that 37% of Panamanians interviewed say that the country has progressed “somewhat ” in reducing corruption in state institutions. But also expressed the belief that the police, judges and officials can be bribed.

In Panama there are currently five political parties: the Democratic Revolutionary Party  (PRD), the Panameñista Party, Democratic Change (CD), the Republican-Liberal Nationalist Movement (Molirena), and the Popular Party(PP) There are also two other groupings that are about to receive the endorsement of the Electoral Tribunal (TE) to become political collectives

Until last June, 1.3 million Panamanians were registered in parties, according to the TE.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/political-parties-justice-get-failing-grades

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OPINION: Panama’s perverted justice system

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Where judges sit on files
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Those [Panamanians]investigated for high-profile corruption offenses have revealed a sinister truth: there is a differentiated treatment by the judicial system that favors them.

Dozens of suspects have escaped the action of the Public Ministry, simply taking a plane, many times private, hiding from the investigations, until their skilled lawyers manage to ensnare the process thanks to complacent judges.

The rules are extremely flexible and what is worse, the interpretation given to them by judges and magistrates to benefit plunderers of hundreds of millions of dollars from all Panamanians. These actions are not considered in any country of the world as a legitimate exercise of due process or the right of defense.
In the fourth year of legal proceedings against those allegedly responsible for high-profile acts of corruption, hearings are suspended, judges paralyze the investigations and the magistrates of the Supreme Court sit on the files. It is clear that the Judicial Organ and the legal profession have a lot to answer to society for impunity in the country. …LA PRENSA, hoyporhoy, Apl.9

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/opinion-panamas-perverted-justice-system

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Panama’s “stagnation of justice”

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Guillermo Márquez Amado, former magistrate of the Electoral Tribunal and spokesman for the observatory; and Inocencio Galindo, president of the Chamber of Commerce
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The second report on Panama’s judicial system underscores widespread public concerns and  finds that investigations are at stake “Due to the current stagnation of justice,”the Observatory of the Judicial System of Panama report was delivered on Wednesday,  April 25 by the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (Ciac), the Justice and Peace Commission and the Santa María University.

“This situation is unacceptable, we live in times that demand transparency, justice, and surrender of accounts, not only from the Judicial Branch but also by the other State Bodies, “said Inocencio Galindo, president of the Chamber.

According to the report, poor investigations due to lack of personnel or non-existence from the beginning of a coordinated and effective case theory is one of the causes that negatively affects the end of the prescription of crimes.

Another factor that affects the prescription of processes is the lack of an audit by the Comptroller’s Office or in some cases presented long after the investigation began and precautionary measures had been applied to people.

There is also a lack of determination by the Office of the Prosecutor in requesting a date for the preliminary hearing of the case before the Court

The other factor, according to the report, is the lack of special courts that allow exhausting  the processes of the current inquisitorial system, so that more audiences can be held in less time and thus avoid prescription.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panamas-stagnation-of-justice

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Reform plan for Panama justice system

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Panama’s Chamber of Commerce  Industry and Agriculture (Cciap) has introduced a proposal for reforms to the constitution largely aimed at resolving one of the country’s most contentious issues a proposal for reforms to the constitution largely aimed at resolving one of the country’s most contentious issues – the administration of justice.

The proposal, presented by the Chamber’s president Gabriel Barletta, would extend the time in office of the magistrates of the Supreme Court (CSJ) from 10 to 20 years.

In addition, it proposes modifying the requirements to be a magistrate be modified, increasing the minimum age from 35 to 45 years, and requiring  10 to 15 years of experience in the exercise of law.

The initiative retains the power of the Cabinet Council to appoint magistrates, but the designation would be made from a list provided by a  nine-member commission of Evaluation and Nomination, representing Associations and Guilds from the private sector, academic, and civic, NGOs, bar associations, workers and the Executive.

The ratification of the judges would require the approval of two-thirds of the National Assembly instead of the absolute majority currently required.

If the qualified majority in the Legislature is not achieved, the plenary session of the CSJ could appoint the new magistrate to a temporary position as well as the substitute judge.

The Executive should send a new candidate for ratification within 60 days. This candidate would come from the list provided by the Evaluation Commission.

Regarding the judicial function of the Legislative, it is proposed that the Assembly would hear complaints

against the president and the magistrates of the CSJ, and judge them. But the investigation would be carried out by the Public Ministry (MP).

The CSJ, it would hear complaints against the deputies and judge them, but the investigation would be done by the CSJ.

The attorneys of the Nation and the Administration would continue to serve for 10 years, but those appointed by the Executive would be from the list of the Evaluation Commission.

The proposal says that the Judicial Branch would elaborate its own budget and this could not be modified by the Executive.

Barletta said that the proposal is the product of work developed by constitutionalists that met for more than a year and concluded that the “center of democracy is justice.”

Juan Planells Fernández,  rector of the Santa María la Antigua University and member of the Observatory of the Judicial System, said that the proposed changes are necessary and trusts that the deputies will put their pettiness aside and approve the reforms.

The objective of the Cciap is that the reforms are approved, in three debates by this Assembly and are ratified by the deputies elected in 2019.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/reform-plan-for-panama-justice-system

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Lawyer Brandao: Panamanian justice system is a shameful disaster

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 17:22

Panamanian lawyer José Nelson Brandao expressed his concern about the general state of the justice system in the Isthmus. In an exclusive interview with Panama Today he questioned the role of those who are called to be "just and fair" in the country. "The different press conferences of the Attorney General, where she reports the scandals of the Judicial Branch, the repression of the Prosecutors regarding the decision of the judges, the public conflict regarding who is telling the truth or not, ignoring the concepts of justice, are leading us to the irremediable conclusion that the justice system in Panama is a disaster and shameful".

In reference to the investigations published by the newspaper La Estrella, Brandao said that "all public officials involved must be accountable for their actions. It is not possible that the criminal proceeding is in the hands of individuals of a Security Council that are politically biased and that determine the legal details of the proceedings. If that reality that has been claimed as true and I do not question it, then the judicial system fell into a crisis for which the responsible public officials have to be accountable".

He fears that the political spiral within the justice system will continue. "Today they are the persecutors and tomorrow they will be the persecuted. This is the worst scenario that Panama can have, which needs credibility in justice," says Brandao

The lawyer said that "the bias in the investigations, the way they persecute each other and leave them unnoticed creates a bad impression as to what is really handled in the intrigues of the Security Council, the administration of justice, the preferential interests of investigators".

Regarding the appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, Brandao said that, "we do not know if the appointment is for hearing a trial against Martinelli or if it is because the President has not had time or in the end we have not been given a reasonable explanation with which the contempt to the Panamanian public opinion is demonstrated".

He says that the justice and institutional crisis in the country also affects the common citizen, "this affects us directly, this defines our misery, this defines that there are no medicines in the Social Security Fund, in hospitals, and there is no job; this is the economic disaster of this country, the lack of credibility in Panamanian investment".

Brandao said that the new President of the Republic is called to guarantee a transformation of the system to help justice, peace and probity prevail.

 

https://www.panamatoday.com/panama/lawyer-brandao-panamanian-justice-system-shameful-disaster-8070

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Panama approaching failed state say business leaders

Posted on November 18, 2018 in Panama

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Varela and First Lady exchange gifts with Pope Francis 
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Panama looks like a failed state with little cause for optimism as it nears rock bottom said the country’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (Cciap) in a report issued on Sunday, November 18.

As Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela heads into the final months of his five-year term his legacy looks increasingly fragile with his attention more focused on China and the upcoming World Youth Day(WYD)  than the corruption crisis that has been condemned by all political parties, media, and Transparency International.

Varela. the  country’s most traveled  leader,   hopes that the WYD for which  he and his wife lobbied  so assiduously in Rome, will help put Panama on the world stage, but , like the Panama Papers scandal the corruption in judicial and public institutions is putting renewed focus on  the darker side of a country still trying to escape from under the shadow of its former image as a “Banana Republic”

There is a need to recover the  institutionality, of the country, says the Chamber  since “the lack of widespread credibility makes us look like a failed state, where there is no climate of seriousness.”

Democracy “requires transparent and independent institutions for its proper functioning” .

The Cciap reaction arises after the National Assembly is again questioned about the management of its funds and the rehiring of personnel that appeared in the 080 and 172 forms, without having justified the work done for the deputies of the various parties.

In addition, magistrates of the Supreme Court are accused  “once again”, of alleged corruption and sale of judgments.

“The institutional deterioration that registers the country resists any optimistic forecast, at least in the immediate future ” and “this crisis has hit bottom and does not allow us to continue looking for excuses”.

Cciap members are concerned that the media “reveal facts that require in-depth investigations and we do not see real measures taken to resolve them. ”

In its statement, the Chamber  members remind us  that,  earlier they presented their proposal of constitutional reforms,

And have “carried out conversations with the Legislative Organ to make the call to this discussion”.

“It is of our consideration that the need to proceed with this debate and approval is imminent, respecting the objective of rescuing the administration of justice as the center of life in a democracy.”

Meanwhile, President Varela is preparing to receive a visit from the Chinese president who is set to give him more time than he got from the  US State  Secretary.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-approaching-failed-state-say-business-leaders

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Failed state is gross exaggeration. Libya is a failed state. Yemen is.   Venezuela is closer, but even it isn't a failed state.

Panama is not living up to its potential.  That I firmly believe.

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In general I agree with Doug’s assessments.

This article makes me wonder what the real agenda is for the Chamber of Commerce. Are they positioning for next year’s elections? Something else?

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While Panama is not a failed state yet, it is heading down that road.  The corruption amongst the Courts, the lack of ability to hold anyone accountable (except minor players) and the way in which legislators and others pass laws protecting and justifying egregious behaviour are some of the early hallmarks.

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The Consitution is the problem. No guidelines for corruption. No checks and balances. No redistribution of funds (taxes) equally to Provinces. Virtually no "School Boards" to put pressure on Panama Assembly. Criminal Code is a joke. Hardly a failed state.  I'll stop now.

Edited by Hil
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14 hours ago, Hil said:

The Consitution is the problem. No guidelines for corruption. No checks and balances. No redistribution of funds (taxes) equally to Provinces. Virtually no "School Boards" to put pressure on Panama Assembly. Criminal Code is a joke. Hardly a failed state.  I'll stop now.

Beats the crap out of me why anyone who holds their host country in such low regard would want to live here.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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HARDLY A FAILED STATE. STAYING ON TOPIC HERE.

Edited by Hil

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It’s not a matter of holding it in low regard, merely observations on the situation.  Neither Hil nor I said Panama is a failed state but merely made observations that some things need to be adressed.  There is always something that needs fixing.

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42 minutes ago, JohnF13 said:

It’s not a matter of holding it in low regard, merely observations on the situation.  Neither Hil nor I said Panama is a failed state but merely made observations that some things need to be adressed.  There is always something that needs fixing. 

John, constructive criticism based on knowledge is one thing. Trash talking with no basis in fact is another.

Of course Panama needs improvements. It's a DEVELOPING country. 

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Panama on verge of imploding  – Torrijos

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Varela, Martinelli, Torrijos
Post Views: 1,086
 
PANAMA  is on the verge of an implosion said former president Martin Torrijos on Monday, November 19 adding his voice to that of the Panama Chamber of Commerce which a day earlier had said the country was near a failed state.

Torrijos whose administration  (2004-9) preceded Ricardo Martinelli blamed the crisis on the  “Martinelli-Varela binomial”, with a decade lost due to the confrontation.

“We are reaping what has been sown for ten years. It has been a decade where the constant has been confrontation, uncertainty, shocks. The country really needs us to reach a degree of agreement, and certainty and where we can have stability, “he said.

According to the Torrijos, whose reign in retrospect seems like an oasis of tranquility with the round-the-clock-construction of the original Cinta Costera,-  and the  initiating  of the canal expansion  and  decision to end the reign of the diablos rojos the  most  lasting images, tolerance has been lost, nobody knows what to expect and there is a kind of uncertainty in the absence of leadership by the current administration and the different scandals in all the organs of state.

Torrijos said that the country is “on the verge of implosion” because so many elements have come together: “the corruption scandals, questions about justice, and confrontations with the National Assembly.

He described the situation as “a model that expired ” and the government has not moved to replace it.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/panama-on-verge-of-imploding-torrijos

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OPINION: Panama’s legal insecurity

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Abel Zamorano

Posted 15/02/2019
 
Faced with similar facts, with equal rights invoked, the opinion of the courts must be the same. In Panama, it is not. The erratic behavior of the Third Chamber of Contentious Administrative Matters of the Supreme Court of Justice demonstrates the legal insecurity that the country suffers. On July 3, 2017, Judge Abel Zamorano rejected the admission of a lawsuit claiming that the National Bank pay a multi-million dollar compensation, for a trust constituted with a chain of warehouses: "... The act indicated as a generating event is dealt with of an act of civil-commercial nature, whose review is not the competence of this jurisdiction ... ". What is the difference between this case and the current demand against the bank for the trust of a shopping center? The same magistrate decides in a totally opposite manner. This is the reality that all citizens face, whose lives, liberties, patrimonies, and rights are in the hands of Panamanian justice. These unexpected changes of jurisprudence leave a bad taste in the mouth and raise a terrible halo of suspicion. The Court is still in time to avoid another shame, restoring calm to our economy - LAPRENSA, Feb. 15
 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-panamas-legal-insecurity

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OPINION: Panama condemned to impunity

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The Supreme Court

Posted 11/06/2019

A year ago, the Government of the United States gave extradition to Panama, to the ex-citizen of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli. With the accusatory criminal system, it was supposed that the Panamanian justice could effectively ventilate the case  of the wiretaps. A year of delays, delaying tactics and the forced change of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to an ordinary court have demonstrated the ability of the accused and his expensive army of lawyers to influence. The expense has not only been  to the former president, but also the State, which has invested public funds and thousands of hours of prosecutors, magistrates and other officials to carry out this trial. This is an example of why the Panamanian justice system is a source of frustration and bitter dissatisfaction, that make them pay all citizens a high price. Whatever the final outcome of the wiretappunctures case, it is urgent to focus on rebuilding justice. It is intolerable that Panama is condemned to impunity and legal uncertainty, the result of courts and judges trapped in a tangle of great interests.-LA PRENSA.June 11

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-panama-condemned-to-impunity

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OPINION: Culture of Corruption

Posted 28/06/2019

The revelations of the Odebrecht scandal, shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, shed light on the dark fabric of the Brazilian company. For Panamanians, this means that more bribes were paid in our country and emblematic works, such as the Panama Metro, served to bribe local authorities and those of other countries. Who are Aguia, Friend of Onca, Salary, Cachaça, Canario, Periquito or Yemanja, Cavaleiro or Stalin? Among these nicknames is the spearhead of the culture of corruption of the Panamanian political class. It is obvious that the Judicial Branch must grant the Public Prosecutor the extension of the investigation or, otherwise, we will lose the opportunity to see justice done. If it is verified that an executive of the company lied or hid information from prosecutors, the whole weight of the law must fall, without contemplations. The new government must take up the fight against corruption as a state policy, and it has to commit to the legal changes that put the country in step with the challenge of the Odebrecht case. Failing to do so is equivalent to maintaining the mechanisms that made this robbery possible.- LA PRENSA, June28

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-culture-of-corruption

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Corruption decisions by non-specialized judges

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Ronaldo Rodriguez

Posted 15/07/2019

Corruption decisions by non-specialized judges

Recent decisions of judges in high profile cases where businessmen and former government insiders with close links to the Ricardo Martinelli administration walk free are raising concerns in the Public Prosecutor's Office and civil society.

The attorney general's secretary, Rolando Rodríguez, has called on all judges in the country to "become aware of the complexity of anti-corruption investigations.” Reports TVN

Anticorruption prosecutor Lizzie Bonilla made an investigation of the concession granted for the parking lots of the Tocumen International Airport, linked to Gabriel Btesh, who has fled the country.

The Second Court of Justice recently revoked the preliminary injunction against Btesh and declared the nullity of part of the proceedings against him.

Bonilla said that in the investigation it was determined that the concession was delivered to the company one month after it was created. "It did not have quality or experience."

He even argued that the company required to deliver an operational and market report that addressed feasibility and did not do so.

With the investigations, a patrimonial injury of $1,883.000 that the State stopped receiving was determined. According to the prosecutor, when the parking lots were administered by the airport, even more, money was received.

The judge argued that Btesh had his rights violated because he was not notified of procedures, however, the prosecutor indicated that he always had a lawyer in Panama, despite not being in the country.

Rodriguez said that, " as it can be established that the right to defense has been violated to a person with a lawyer, but absent in Panama and from the process. There is an inconsistency. "

In other cases such as Rogues de Tonosí and the dismissal of 18 involved in the case of the extinct National Assistance Program (PAN), the reality has not been different.

Rodriguez said that several months ago, the Attorney General, Kenia Porcell warned that she had received notice that several cases of anti-corruption "were going to fail, despite the efforts and elements of conviction," provided by the prosecution.

" They are complex investigations, they are not easy to develop. They involve amounts of operations, people and requires time, "he said.

Rodriguz said that they have prosecutors specialized in money laundering, financial crimes and the citizenship knows them. "There are no specialized judges

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/corruption-decisions-by-non-specialized-judges

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The railroading of an Attorney General

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Ana Matilde Gómez, arrives at the Supreme Court of Justice in August 2010.

Posted 23/07/2019

On August 12, 2010, the  Supreme Court of Justice issued one of its most controversial decisions: the dismissal and conviction for the crime of abuse of authority of then-Attorney General, Ana Matilde Gómez   

Now, the Panamanian State faces the consequences of the rigged judicial process against the ex-AG, since the  Inter-American Commission on Human Rights admitted, after years of study, the request of Gomez and human rights organizations, which has caused a thorough examination of the case and the institutionality of Panamanian justice writes Rodrigo Noriega in La Prensa

Gomez's conviction came from a criminal complaint that had been filed by a former prosecutor investigated for alleged corruption. At the juncture of a change of government, the permanence of the attorney Gómez was attacked by lawyers and politicians, and taking advantage of the appointment of two new magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice executed their plan fully.

The lessons that can be learned from that moment should serve to place the rule of law in its right dimension in the face of the challenges of a globalized economy, the need to attract quality foreign investments.

The Panamanian State will have to face the consequences of the judicial ruling.

Almost nine years after being tried and sentenced to  six months in prison and four years of disqualification for the exercise of public functions, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), admitted the petition filed by the former Attorney General, the Center for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law American University – Washington College of Law, the Panamanian Association of Constitutional Law and the Association Center for Panamanian Studies and Social Action.

According to the report of the IACHR, dated October 16, 2018, , the claim filed by the petitioners mentioned above on February 16, 2011, in the judicial process that resulted in the separation and conviction of the ex-prosecutor , the rights to personal integrity, judicial guarantees, the principles of legality and retroactivity and judicial protection of the American Convention on Human Rights were violated.

The facts relevant to the petition are based on the complaint filed on July 15, 2009, by former prosecutor Arquimedes Sáez, who requested that the then Attorney General of the Nation be investigated for the crime of abuse of authority by authorizing illegal telephone interceptions against him. , and that this is why on September 29 of that year the substitute administration opened the investigations against the then AG Gómez. As a defendant, filed multiple incidents regarding the investigation that were never resolved by the Supreme Court

On January 28, 2010, by 5 votes in favor and 4 against, the Court adopted the precautionary measure of separating the attorney general.

Gomez was sentenced on August 12, 2010 to the definitive loss of the position of the attorney general, to 6 months in prison, commutable by $4.000dollars of fine, and to 4 years of disqualification of functions as a public servant. All the appeals filed by her during the process were denied or ignored by the Court.

The petition was notified to the Panamanian State on August 16, 2016, obtaining a first response from the State on November 16, 2016, with additional observations from both the petitioner and the State in 2017.

The response of the Panamanian Government has been persistent in that the petitioner had the right to appeal for review of the judgment of August 12, 2010, so she had not exhausted all the resources provided by the country's domestic jurisdiction.

The IACHR has said that the appeal for review “... is not, set up in an appropriate remedy that ensures the revision or double conformity of a conviction before being final. Consequently, the State did not make available to the alleged victim a remedy that allows to protect the rights that are allegedly violated ... ”.

In this phase the victim and the State have time to find a negotiated solution. After that term, the IACHR will take the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to obtain a mandatory sentence against the Panamanian State.

These sentences can include the payment of lost wages, moral damages, interests, and legal costs, which together with a public apology could be the conclusion of a case that should never have happened and that should serve as a warning.

The politicians and lawyers who made the plot that would lead to the separation of Gomez from office, and the conviction, it seems will avoid all responsibility, since who is obliged to pay and compensate the damages caused is the Panamanian State.

However, a conviction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights would not be the only sanction. Panama is on the gray list of the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which considered that the country lacked effectiveness in the fight against money laundering and related crimes. Shaking legal institutions, just when they are in the process of concluding many high-profile investigations, could have serious consequences for the banking and financial sector. The message for international investors would be disastrous, as it would confirm the perception that Panama does not offer legal certainty.

According to the Constitution, the term of service of an attorney general is 10 years. However, the experience of the last 29 years exposes a high instability of the office . With eight attorneys general in 29 years of continuous democracy, it becomes clear that in terms of the rule of law we have a long way to go.

With the changes of government, the new administration tries to obtain officials that are related to it, and, to corner those who exercise the position so that they leave it.

Justice is, then, a part of the political spoils.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/the-railroading-of-an-attorney-general

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OPINION:  Panama’s perverted justice

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Ana Matilde Gomez

Posted 23/07/2019

The Panamanian State is again taken to the bench of the accused in the Inter-American Human Rights System. This time - and with plenty of reasons for this - the process is promoted by former Attorney General  Ana Matilde Gómez, convicted by the Supreme Court of Justice on August 12, 2012, following a complaint filed by a former prosecutor investigated for alleged corruption. The Supreme Court closed its eyes in the face of an openly political process, in which the government in office did not claim anything other than to kidnap the office to do whatever it pleased, without any consequence, with the exception of impunity. The Gomez was a yellow trial, established by what was outlined as a tyrant, and whose consequences all Panamanians today we will have to pay, because what was done with the former was a cowardly and illegal act. After his departure, the scandals of all kinds followed, ignored by the clique of puppets who called themselves lawyers. And today, once again, we face more subtle scenarios, but with the obvious certainty of what the current National Police leadership has done against the Public Prosecutor's Institutionality pursues the same ends.- LA PRENSA, July 23

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-panamas-perverted-justice

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OPINION: Justice delayed is not justice

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Panama Supreme Court

Posted 27/07/2019

Justice is one of the pillars of the welfare of society, and of the competitiveness of its economy. In the case of the Panamanian, there are important barriers that the judicial apparatus must overcome, to be in tune with the times and expectations of the citizens. Apart from the obvious and thorny issue of corruption, there is a very heavy burden that marks the mark of justice on Panamanian society: its slowness. In 2013, some residents of Punta Paitilla requested the annulment of an environmental resolution that authorized the construction of two towers of 40 floors each. With a delay of six years, the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court found that residents upset with the towers were right. The buildings are already built and close to being occupied. The actual effect of the sentence is totally unfair. There are banks, insurance companies, subcontractors, and even clients, who may have acquired presale properties, which would be affected by a demolition. Why the delay? Panamanian courts see tens of thousands of cases that exceed their capacity, which transfers the cost of damages from judicial default to citizens. The saying goes well: "late justice is not justice." That is what happens with a large number of courts and tribunals, which are not able to produce results on time, to protect the rights of people living in this nation. LA PRENSA, July 27

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/opinion-justice-delayed-is-not-justice

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Black Friday Court puts clamps on biggest bribery investigation

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PROSECUTOR Zuleyka Moore calls ruling “unfortunate”

Posted 03/08/2019

Panama’s  Second Superior Court has denied extending the deadline for further investigation of the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Panama -bribes paid by the Odebrecht Company during three administrations.

After the August 2 decision which means  that key information  could be missing from the case being developed by anti-corruption prosecutors Prosecutor Zuleyka Moore  told media last night that there is still an analysis of what happened  the 2006 and 2008 period, when Martin Torrijos ruled the country; and the documents that were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that refer to the nicknames of some who received millions of bribes  in the Torrijos and Varela administrations.

"It is a very unfortunate subject because it is a line of investigation that the Public Ministry did not reach," Moore said.

She said that, unlike Panama, countries such as Colombia, Salvador, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico still have ongoing research.

Moore said they will analyze what will be the next steps of the Public Ministry and what resources they will interpose. The prosecutor said the case was opened in January 2017 and was paralyzed for six months, waiting for the Twelfth Criminal Court to give an extension. In the end, the court gave them one more year for the investigation, which expired in April.

La Prensa described the announcement  as part of  Panama’s  “Black Friday“

There was no official pronouncement or even a press release. The news was disseminated through Twitter, in the Judicial Branch account after 4:00 pm.

Prosecutor Moore warned that Martín Torrijos's period or documents that were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists cannot now be investigated.

With this scenario, the prosecution will not be able to continue investigating the bribes that the Brazilian company would have paid during the period of the government of the PRD Martín Torrijos (2004-2009). Nor will it be able to analyze information from the Structured Operations Sector - the Odebrecht department of bribery  

$100 miilion bribes
In total, according to what prosecutors have disclosed, Odebrecht distributed more than $100 million in bribes in the country. Between 2010 and 2014, when Ricardo Martinelli was president they paid $96.7 million in exchange for public works contracts. While between 2006 and 2008, with Martín Torrijos as ruler, according to prosecutors, they would have delivered bribes for about $10 million.

Five projects awarded under the presidency of Juan Carlos Varela (2009-2014) were investigated. The Panamenista Party, to which Varela belongs, would have received $ 10 million from the construction company through former South Korean ambassador Jaime Lasso, through the V-tech and Poseidon societies.

Between 2006-2008, during the management of Torrijos, Odebrecht was awarded three works: the Remigio Rojas system, the Cinta Costera 1 and the Madden-Colón highway. The companies: Marpesca Seatrade LLC, Caribbean Holding Services, Ltd., Vernell Development Corp, and World Securities, among others, were under the spotlight.

"Despite all the obstacles the Public Ministry has been through, the Odebrecht investigation is a strengthened investigation," said Moore.

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/news/black-friday-court-puts-clamps-on-biggest-bribery-investigation

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Panama an international laughing stock

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Posted 03/08/2019

Five years have elapsed since the Lava Jato operation in Brazil began. Far from closing the case, every day that passes, new lines of investigation are opened. In Panama, judges and magistrates, on the other hand, seem very committed to the investigated, accused and suspects, because invariably, the victims are the last priority when the accused dismiss that foul smell of corrupt politicians.

While the rotten smell is repugnant to the whole country, justice administrators seem to enjoy it. The decision to close the investigation of the most emblematic case of corruption - proven and confessed - only demonstrates how far the magistrates are committed to rot, how far they are willing to go to cover, bury and silence.

Their decisions not only make the country an international laughing stock, but they leave us as provincials in matters of justice. Not content with this, the same magistrates confirmed the dismissal of all accused in the case of the Savings Bank, among which was former Vice President Pipo Virzi.

The decision of these magistrates - who in the Odebrecht case leave the period of former President Martín Torrijos (2004-09) out of the investigation - underscores with a thick line the future of corruption cases in Panama. And all this happens when the PRD, led by Laurentino Cortizo, is just one month in power. LA PRENSA, Aug 3

 

https://www.newsroompanama.com/opinion/panama-an-international-laughing-stock-1

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