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"A justice worker must be in constant training"

Panama, November 26, 2020. From September 16 to November 20, 60 collaborators of the four judicial districts of the Judicial Branch carried out the Diploma in Money Laundering, organized by the United Nations Office against Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean (UNODC ROPAN), through the project " Project to Consolidate the Criminal Procedure Reform in Panama", by initiative of the Judicial Branch.
For Adrian Jose Hernandez, Judge of Guarantees of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama, this diploma offered by UNODC "was conducted in an environment of academic training that, beyond the formal, is at the forefront of andragogic learning.
He added that the experiences shared by trainers and participants "become an integral part of the resources" available to each of the justice operators who took the course, "generating the strengthening of skills, which, in their case, "are a vital part of the exercise of a justice operator; this is not optional.  
"Excellent, too much added value for the functions we perform, too bad the time was not enough in certain research topics", said Margiory Isabel Castro Contreras, Oral Trial Judge, about this training.

A comprehensive work
"Criminality is advancing at a dizzying rate," said Hernandez, so that "a justice operator must be constantly trained in the conduct that generates social reproach and that, in the case of money laundering, terrorism and financing of terrorism, are outlined as illegal acts of high impact whose persecution and national prosecution attract international attention. 
According to this Judge of Guarantees, "the impact of these illicit acts transcends borders, breaks the patterns of traditional and/or formal investigation, and even becomes a measurement point of the functions performed by the operators who are part of the public service of justice administration, in an integral manner".
Regarding the issue of money laundering, terrorism and financing of terrorism, Hernandez considers that "it is necessary to specialize the ordinary criminal courts in the accusatory criminal system. He thinks that "for the judge it is important to handle the updated concepts of financial products, the risks incurred with the use of those and the importance with which they impact on the current market and society in general".
He values the training offered by UNODC because "through the environment that has been offered to us, we tend to strengthen the skills of the justice operator. 

Need for training
After taking the diploma in money laundering, Margiory Isabel Castro Contreras will decide a case in this matter "with respect to his guilt or not, if all the elements required by our criminal law are present for the crime to be established with the association of testimonial, expert and documentary evidence provided".
“We believe that the issue of evidence should be standardized in the case of money laundering, specifically; although the judge cannot be made aware of certain considerations, it is important that we be trained so that we do not have different interpretations of such evidence”.
She explains that, although in Panama there is no law of extension of domain that allows to guarantee the prevention, the treatment and effectiveness of insurance measures of money, values and/or goods related to such criminal activity, nevertheless, until such initiative of legislative approval exists, it becomes necessary to use the corresponding law channels, in force in our country, such as the range of real precautionary measures that the ordinary criminal procedure has at the disposal of the Public Ministry".
She warns that "it is not necessarily necessary to wait for the law to exist in order to carry out trainings that include this matter, but it is possible to work on the management of this type of jurisdiction, which, although it would not necessarily be included within the judicial system, it is necessary for the management of special jurisdictions to have specialists.

Optimizing investigation mechanisms
"As for the prosecution and trial of the crime of money laundering, it is necessary to optimize the investigation mechanisms, such as the operation and division of joint and coordinated tasks between intelligence agencies, police, prosecutors and even jurisdictional activities that may affect preventive controls," explains the judge.
He recommends "to provide the Public Ministry with the appropriate personnel necessary to fulfill the tasks inherent to the investigation.
To conclude, Judge Adrián José Hernández states that "it is a joint institutional task, but it goes hand in hand with the tools provided to the investigative body, due to the lack of sufficient experts to meet the high demand for cases that require the collection of evidence necessary to request coercive legal measures.