16 civic groups object to high court nominations

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high court

On the nominations to the Supreme Court of Justice

by 16 civic organizations

After total secrecy and lack of transparency, the Cabinet Council approved the designations of Zuleyka Moore and Ana Lucrecia Tovar de Zarak as new magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice.

The designation was made without civic consultation, disregarding the agreements in the State Pact for Justice and the campaign promises of the current administration, and moreover ignoring the recommendations emanating from international bodies that promote magistrate selection processes with greater citizen participation.

The subject to consider is neither the professional qualifications nor the ethics of the persons proposed, because the thing that concerns us goes above all of those criteria. It deals with key concepts like conflict of interest, the guarantee of judicial independence and the separation of governmental powers.

A legal professional may meet all of the academic, professional and ethical requisites, but questions about lack of independence, or the existence of political ties, or whatever other questions that place in doubt her credibility or independence from other governmental powers, are keys to determining the convenience or lack thereof of her nomination to the highest body of justice. In the case of Ana Lucrecia Tovar de Zarak, the wife of the current vice minister of economy and an activist in President Varela’s campaign, those political ties that would affect the already deteriorated image of the administration of justice are clear.

The crisis of credibility in the Panamanian administration of justice is not only focused on the courts but also in the Public Ministry, which makes the nomination of the prosecutor in charge of the most important and complex cases as a magistrate of the Court does not help in the administration of justice and on the contrary generates more doubt than confidence.

We have learned that the nominations for the alternate magistrates go to persons who also have ties to the Cabinet Council, which to all appearances looks not like a search to strengthen the courts but to control the Supreme Court of Justice.

In this way the crisis in which the credibility of the administration of justice in Panama is submerged is deepened, along with the deterioration of democratic institutions in this country, at the moment when the country prepares to bring to trial a considerable number of persons from the former administration and moreover should investigate the current administration for the complaints that have been made about having received money from Odebrecht for its electoral campaign.

It is urgent for all sectors to unite and start out along the road toward a Constitutional Convention which, among other reforms to our government, seeks the total depoliticization of the selection of magistrates, attorneys general and other important officials, so as guarantee the separation of government powers.

Alianza Ciudadana Pro Justicia
Asamblea de Acción Ciudadana
Afro Panameña Soy
Asociación de Residentes de Coco del Mar y Viña del Mar
Central General Autónoma de Trabajadoras de Panamá (CGTP)
Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (CIAM)
Centro de Estudios y Capacitación Familiar
Centro de Estudios y Acción Social Panameño (CEASPA)
Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la defensa de los Derechos de Mujeres
Fundación para el Desarrollo de Libertad Ciudadana / Transparencia Internacional
Espacio Encuentro de Mujeres
Frente por la Defensa de la Democaracia
Mesa de Análisis de Leyes y Políticas Públicas de Descapacidad
Movimiento Democrático Popular
Red Nacional de Apoyo a la Niñez y Adolescencia de Panamá
Servicio Paz y Justicia

 

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