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Varela thwarts bill 514

Juan Carlos Varela
  • Juan Carlos Valera - EFE

Stating that the bill is inconvenient and unenforceable, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela partially rejected Bill 514, specifically due to the content of articles 3, 4, 51 and 151.

The presidential decision responds to the amendment of the Criminal Code, the Organic Code of Criminal Procedure, and relies on the powers Varela has pursuant to the Panamanian Magna Carta in its article 183.

According to the press release published by the Secretary of Communication of the State, articles 3 and 4 of the bill were dismissed on unconstitutional basis and entail an analysis of the constitutionality of this regulation.

It is understood that these amendments could be translated into a possible breach of the fundamental right related to the presumption of innocence, as established in the Constitution of the Republic.

"The right to the presumption of innocence means that any person who is accused of an act in criminal proceedings, holds that status until proven guilty, which must be through a trial with all the guarantees established by law," reads the document.

Regarding Article 51, objections are made by Varela considering that the amendments made represent a setback in legislative matters since, there is punishment for legal persons that are used or created to commit some type of crime, even if they are not benefited.

The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) reacted to the announcement saying that "Bill No.514 intended to ban companies involved in corruption and their owners, and today the president partially objects to it. So that’s how he fights corruption! #Imprescriptibilidad".

The Independent Movement questioned the decision and demand "the approval of this bill to advance the construction of the legal framework that, together with a change of culture and the election of proper people for high level offices, to reverse the progress of corruption in our institutions".

Bill 514, introduced in the first instance by the Rights Student Association of the Santa María Catholic University, was submitted by the National Assembly (AN), to the executive branch on April 3 and thereafter, the project must return to the legislative branch, which can make the corrections or may approve it as by insistence. If so, Varela may still appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ).

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