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OPINION: Corrupt. self-serving lawmakers


Posted 24/04/2019

WITH  just to days of the general elections, the deputies of the main banks show their true colors. As if a confirmation of the indifference with which the most serious matters of the country are considered, again the Credentials Committee was unable to make the quorum to consider the ratification or rejection of a Supreme Court Justice.

The crisis of Panamanian politics has many roots, however, a large percentage is due to personal selfish decisions of the protagonists of this plot. For more than 15 months, the National Assembly has prevented the Supreme Court from being renewed, all with the purpose of negotiating prebends and immunities.

Such impudence only indicates that most of the deputies are still in their cloud, totally divorced from reality and the real needs of this country. A bag of cement, a bag of food or a handful of dollars in exchange for a vote are keys that open the dungeons of a corrupt country, a mediocre government and a desperate society. Why do they want to be deputies, if so much indifference is caused by State affairs? The answer is that they do not do it for the common good, but to serve themselves hands-full. -LA PRENSA, Apl. 24



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Martinelli ally hopes to thwart Varela appointments


Chello Galvez

Posted 23/05/2019

The  controversial chairman president of the National Assembly  Credentials

Committee the deputy Sergio "Chello" Gálvez, the self-described “sexual buffalo” and close collaborator with ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, is also an affirmed opponent of President Juan Carlos Varela who takes pleasure in butting heads with the Executive.

His latest disruptive tactic as the Assembly in its dying days prepares for extraordinary sessions so that long-delayed appointments made by Varela can be ratified was aired by TVN Noticias, on Thursday, May 23. He said that the Executive Organ and the bench of the Panameñista Party will have to bend the knee before the Committee and  "lobby" to get the designations ratified. "It will depend on the executive itself and if the Panameñista Party's caucus shows interest in lobbying," Gálvez said.

The Cabinet Council called the Assembly to extraordinary sessions from Monday, May 27 until June 30, where a 12-point agenda should be discussed, of which eight relate to appointments.

Gálvezsaid that he will call a meeting of to the nine members of the Credentials Committee, but  "my political calculation tells me that there is no atmosphere at all for this approval,"  he said.

"In my case, my vote will be against the entire designations of Varela, so you do not have to talk to me,  you are going to waste your time," said the Democratic Change  (CD) deputy.

The appointments that should be discussed in extraordinary sessions are:

Luis Antonio Camargo Vergara, as substitute judge of the First Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of  (CSJ).

Katia del Carmen Di Bello Becerra as substitute judge of the Third Chamber of Contentious Administrative Matters of the CSJ.

Judith Esther Cossú as substitute judge of the First Civil Chamber of the CSJ.

Luis Fernando Tapia González as a judge of the Second Criminal Chamber of the CSJ.

María Eugenia Pérez as  Electoral Attorney General. Miguel Ángel Esbrí as a member of the Board of Directors of the Superintendence of Insurance and Reinsurance

Roberto Roy as a member of the Board of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

Marietta Jaén member of the ACP Board

 Finally, "Chello" Gálvez said that the deputies must comply with the call for extraordinary sessions, but as the majority of deputies did not achieve re-election, he considers that they could choose not to attend or send alternates.



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As justice staggers President  gearing-up to nominate new magistrates


President Cortizo

Posted 12/08/2019

As Panama’s fractured  judicial system is  viewed  with increasing  concern by international  bodies and the country tries to slide from under the gray-list blanket President Laurentino Cortizo says he  is meeting with   the State Pact for Justice to make the designations to replace three  Supreme Court judges one of whose term has already expired and two are due to finish their ten-year terms in December.

He was attending an International Youth Day celebration at the Technological University of Panama (UTP) on Monday, August 12.

Cortizo also referred to the creation of the Youth Institute and the future installation of the School of

Excellence in the City of Knowledge which will start with a pilot school of 100 to 150 students, which aims to prepare them for the entrance exams to universities worldwide.

The Monday event activity had space where young participants from different schools, made requests to President Cortizo, concerning particularly in health, safety, and education.



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14 candidates to fill 3  Supreme Court  vacancies


Posted 09/09/2019

Fourteen candidates have put their names forward to replace three judges exiting Panama’s  Supreme Court (CSJ), widely seen as a flawed institution with an investigation currently underway into alleged bribery of at least three sitting members.

Among the aspirants, the best known is María de Lourdes Estrada, magistrate of the Second Superior Court who has been constantly criticized for her controversial decisions in corruption cases, reports TVN.

Estrada was criticized for having endorsed a ruling that annulled an investigation into  14 people in the case of accounts linked to former Court Judge Alejandro Moncada Luna who was jailed for five years

Also on the list is Nelly Cedeño de Paredes, who has worked as a substitute magistrate in the Third Chamber and mainly in the Superior Family Court, is a university professor.

The call for applicants was made Monday, September 2. to fill the vacant posts of Jerónimo Mejía and Harry Díaz, both of the Criminal Chamber; and Abel Zamorano, of the Third Chamber whose name has surfaced in reports of bribery allegations.



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48 in scramble for 3 Supreme Court seats


Posted 11/09/2019

By 4,30 pm on Monday, September 11, the list of applicants aspiring to fill three vacancies in Panama’s Supreme Court (had swelled says the Attorney General's Office.

The application period began on September 2 with the call for the pre-selection of candidates for main and alternate magistrates and closes this Monday, September 16. 

The resumes of the applicants must be taken to the Research and Training Center of this institution, located in Llanos de Curundú, reiterated the Office of the Attorney General. 

This call launched the process for the selection of the people who will replace Judges Jerónimo Mejía and Harry Díaz, both from the Criminal Chamber, and Abel Zamorano, from the Third Chamber of Administrative Litigation. 

Mejía's 10-year term expired in December 2017. Díaz and Zamorano complete their terms in  December.  

The new magistrates must be ratified by the National Assembly and would take office on January 2, 2020.



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Judge in eye of alleged corruption probe seeks re-election


Abel Samorano

Posted 13/09/2019

A judge in the eye of a storm over alleged access to magistrates  is among some 97 candidates seeking a seat in the Supreme  Court

Judge Abel Zamorano, whose term expires in December, aspires to remain in the plenary of the Court of Justice.

On Friday, September 13, Zamorano presented his documents to run for one of the vacancies in the Court.

His name arose in the revelations of Panama e lawyer  Janio Lescure  in which, among other things, he presumed to have four magistrates (Zamorano would be one of them) with whom he could count to deal in alleged acts of judicial corruption reports La Prensa

On Wednesday,, September 11  Zamorano accused Lescure before the Court of Honor of the National Bar Association (CNA), for alleged ethical violations.

Zamorano bases his complaint on Lescure's revelations, published by La Prensa on September 6.

With Zamorano, there are 97 applicants: 37 women and 60 men, according to the  Office of the Attorney General. which is spreading the updated list of candidates every day.

The period to deliver resumes closes Monday, September 16.

The process is for the selection of the people to replace Judges  Jerónimo Mejía and Harry Díaz, both of the Criminal Chamber, and Zamorano, of the Third Administrative Dispute Chamber. Three alternate magistrates will also be chosen.

The special commission that will have the responsibility of interviewing the candidates for these positions was installed Friday, in order to establish the methodology and the respective questionnaire that will be applied.

The new magistrates must be ratified by the National Assembly and would take office on January 2, 2020.



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President seeks judges with backbone


Posted 16/09/2019

At least 100  lawyers are vying for three vacancies in Panama’s Supreme Court including a  current judge in the eye of an investigation and others whose controversial rulings have raised citizen concerns.

The Cabinet Council opened the application process to appoint the replacements of the judges Jerónimo Mejía (Criminal Chamber), whose term expired on December 31, 2017; Harry Diaz (Criminal Chamber) and Abel Augusto Zamorano (Civil Chamber whose terms expir in December.

On Monday, September 16 the Special Evaluation Commission held its second meeting to refine the methodology for the interviewing phase of the applicants.

The committee has s already announced the questionnaire that the postulates should answer, which includes questions related to their professional experience, if they have been denounced or investigated for breaches of ethics before the Court of Honor of the National Bar Association or before the Judicial Branch, the Public Ministry or some administrative instance; or have  been investigated for any criminal case and its strategies to maintain independence in the administration of justice, among other questions.

Meanwhile, President Laurentino Cortizo said that while his administration makes efforts to improve the economy and fight crime, but if the country does not have a good administration system of justice, “we will hardly move forward”.

On the appointment of new magistrates for the Supreme Court of Justice, Cortizo Cohen said that it will be up to the Commission to make the evaluation and select a shortlist of 15 , and then select three.

The president said he hopes that the selected magistrates have the knowledge, that there is a commitment to the administration of justice, “and they have the character they … have to know how to say yes and know how to say no”.

" I do not want any magistrate with a jelly-like spine," said Cortizo.  He referred to the release of people who are detained by security agencies. Cortizo said "the culprits are expected to be punished, respecting the process and the presumption of innocence, but we need to make adjustments in the administration of justice,"



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Grilling of over 100 Supreme Court applicants underway


Two judges who want tp return to the Supreme Court (CSJ). are followed by a swarm of wannabees

Posted 18/09/2019

A total of 14 aspiring principal and alternate magistrates for Panama’s Supreme Court (CSJ).  appeared before the Special Evaluation Commission on Tuesday, September 17.

There are over 100 applicants including two sitting judges who want to extend their time.  on the bench.

The process comes in the midst of public concern over alleged bribery and sold decisions in Panama’s justice  system

Applicants must answer 15 written  questions   and each participant has 30 minutes to support why they e should be chosen for  the court.

. Once the interviews are completed the commission will select 15 candidates that it will recommend to President Laurentino Cortizo, who will make the final selection.



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Panama in crisis can’t repeat past mistakes says business chamber


Panama Supreme Court

Posted 17/11/2019

Panama cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past says Panama’s Chamber of Commerce (CCIAP) on the eve of appointments of new Supreme Court judges and in the aftermath of the resignation of the nation’s Attorney General in the wake of the Varelaleaks scandal.

The events offer President, Laurentino Cortizo, the opportunity to promote the arrival of people who will fundamentally, contribute to the "radical transformation" demanded by the administration of justice in the country says the Chamber.

Cortizo must name six main magistrates and nine alternates in the Supreme Court.

"Our union maintains that, without the aforementioned transformation, all other changes that may occur to recover the lost institutionality will be simple palliative without the permanence  and much less sustainable, given that in a true democracy, all other values of life rest in justice. said the organization in a  Sunday statement.

According to the CCIAP, the crisis that the country has been dragging for a long time confirms that, when some powers of the State fold to others in a submissive way, all the forces work and conspire to prevent justice from curbing corruption and impunity that without  doubt are the main enemies of development in the country.

For this reason, the business group shares the vision that the administration of justice must be put "in the hands of the most capable, capable and incorruptible citizens, so that they once again give luster of prestige and respect to the various judicial instances ", beginning with the upcoming appointments.

"There is no room for past mistakes. We must be right with these appointments and recover the credibility lost in our instances of justice," it said.



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Countdown to Panama historic decisions


President Cortizo reaches in to the magesterial lottery watch watched by VO Carriso and a member of the National Assembly

Posted 18/11/2019

The countdown to the extraordinary sessions of the National Assembly is shortened. Never as now has it been more important that the deputies of all the banks have a clear awareness of the historical role they must play. The National Assembly will have the obligation to ratify the nominees by the Executive branch to occupy three main and six alternate magistracies in the Supreme Court of Justice.

 Likewise, they may ratify a new Attorney General. The candidates for the Supreme Court of Justice were evaluated and interviewed by a dedicated group of citizens, both civil servants, academics and civil society, who with a conscientious work identified the Panamanians most apt to fill vacancies. The situation is appropriate for the Executive and the deputies to give their support to institutionality and hope, ratifying the best legal professionals, with complete trajectories and free of family, political or vested ties. The stability of the country depends on good designations – LA PRENSA. Nov 18



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Cortizon names fresh blood for Supreme Court


Lopez,Vasquez and Cornjo will take office in January 2 if endorsed by the National Assembly

Posted 25/11/2019

President Laurentino Cortizo announced  Monday. November 25  the batch of new Supreme Court appointments that he has promised will change the environment in  Panama’s rocky judicial system

The Cabinet has unanimously endorsed Maribel Cornejo Batista and Maria Eugenia Lopez Arias as judges in the Criminal Chamber, and  Carlos Vásquez Reyes as a magistrate in the Third Room Administrative Litigation.

Otilda Vergara de Valderrama, Juan Francisco Castillo and José Agustín Delgado were appointed alternates for Cornejo, López and Vásquez, respectively.

Rafael Murgas Torraza, Carmen De Gracia and Miguel Espino were chosen as substitutes for Cecilio Cedalise, Ángela Russo and Olmedo Arrocha, respectively.

Cortizo said that all those elected come from the list of applicants interviewed by an evaluation commission of the State Commission for Justice, which is chaired by the Administration's attorney, Rigoberto González.

“I only ask you one favor: do the right thing.” said the president.

The evaluation commission interviewed 123 candidates and sent a report to the Executive, with 32 names: 21 for the Criminal Chamber and 11 for the Administrative Litigation Chamber. The same candidate appeared on both lists.

Cornejo replaces Harry Díaz and Vásquez, Abel Zamorano. Both their terms expire on December 31. Cornejo and Vásquez will take office on January 2, 2020 and will be magistrates until December 31, 2029.

López, meanwhile, will replace  Jerónimo Mejía, whose 10-year term expired on December 31, 2017, but remained in the exercise of the position since the National Assembly did not ratify the two replacements designated by former President Juan Carlos Varela  López, therefore, will be a magistrate for the remaining eight years of the original 10-year term.

Carlos Vásquez Reyes is a professor at the Universidad Santa María la Antigua (USMA). He has been president of the National Bar Association and secretary-general of the Ombudsman in the government of Martín Torrijos. He has served as general secretary of the National Charity Lottery and deputy director of Legal Advice of the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. He is the son of former magistrate Marisol Reyes de Vásquez.

María Eugenia López Arias has a career with more than 28 years of experience in the Judicial Branch. She served as a substitute magistrate of the Second Superior Court of the First Judicial District of Panama.

Maribel Cornejo Batista served for 13 years as a prosecutor in the Public Ministry, in charge of criminal investigations of Financial Crimes and Corruption Crimes.



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OPINION: A light of hope in the Supreme Court


Posted 26/11/2019

President Laurentino Cortizo lit a light of hope, with his nine appointments to the Supreme Court of Justice. The female presence in the highest court is increased, and the substitutions represent the entire country. It is now up to the National Assembly, to live up to the citizen's expectation.

 Ratifications must be a clean and transparent process, there are no spaces for rattling or vulgarities. The government of Cortizo cannot leave the appointed magistrates alone. Panamanian justice requires many more funds to implement the judicial career, modernize its facilities, improve attention to victims, and increase the number of judges, prosecutors and investigators, so that there is no impunity. During the 30 years of democracy, the justice system has been relegated. Today, Transformation is possible, but it is a task of all public authorities, with the vigilance and participation of civil society. The task has just begun.-LA PRENSA,Nov. 26



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OPINION: Theater of the Absurd

Posted 30/11/2019

On Monday, the National Assembly Credentials Commission must begin the process of consultation for the ratification of the nine lawyers nominated by the Executive to become principal and alternate magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice. In the recent past, the space for public participation in the Credentials Committee sessions became a court of the inquisition, vitiated and that did not pursue a thorough and analytical examination of those appointed, but their professional and personal humiliation and disqualification . This should not be a reason to prevent the participation of all citizens who want to present their legitimate arguments, for or against the jurists. The ruling alliance should not limit the opportunity we Panamanians have to give their opinion on who will be responsible for justice for the next decade. On this occasion, the theater of the absurd starring spokespersons with controversial denunciations is not foreseen, but the reflective exercise of citizen rights. The Assembly has nothing to lose, and the country much to gain.- LA PRENSA, Nov 30.



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New Supreme Court judge and four substitutes seated


Posted 05/12/2019

María Eugenia López Arias took office as a new Supreme Court judge at the presidential palace on Thursday. December 5.

The new magistrate, who was ratified on Wednesday, December 4 at the plenary session of the National Assembly, took office as chief magistrate of the Second Criminal Chamber before President Laurentino Cortizo, and Vice president José Gabriel Carrizo.

Judge López Arias is the only chief magistrate who takes possession, since magistrate Jerónimo Mejía, whom she replaces, has finished his period.

 Carlos Vásquez Reyes and Maribel Cornejo Batista, they must wait until the tenure of magistrates Harry Diaz and Abel Zamorano end in January 2020.

Carmen De Gracia and Miguel Espino, substitutes for magistrates Ángela Russo and Olmedo Arrocha, and Rafael Murgas Torraza, deputy magistrate of Cecilio Cedalise, and Juan Francisco Castillo, deputy magistrate of López Arias. also took possession.



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