File is not found

Collaborators of the Judicial Branch visit the Judicial Branch of the Province of Neuquén, Argentina.

Panama, 16 September 2019. Accompanied by the project to consolidate the criminal procedure reform in Panama of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean (UNODC ROPAN), guarantee judges, trial judges and the director of the Judicial Office of the First Judicial Circuit of Panama traveled to the province of Neuquen in Argentina, with the aim of exchanging experiences with judges, prosecutors and administrative staff of the Judicial Branch.

The Panamanian delegation was received by Germán Busamia, President of the Superior Court of Justice of that province and Evaldo Moya, Member, who presented the current judicial panorama of the province of Neuquen, as well as a detailed explanation of the implementation process of the Criminal Procedure Reform and the new challenges of the Accusatory Criminal System five years after its entry into force.

Subsequently, they went to the Judicial City where they were received by José Ignacio Gerez, Attorney General of the Province, who referred to the new paradigm of the Adversarial System based on the solution of the primary conflict as a guiding principle, as well as the importance of the application of alternative solutions to the conflict and emphasizing that the trial should only be used as an extreme measure, after having exhausted all previous resources and tools.

After the meeting with the high authorities of the Judicial Branch of Neuquen, the Panamanian delegation began a series of working meetings scheduled for the whole week, beginning with Mr. Gastón Rosenfeld, first director of the Judicial Office of Neuquen and current director of Institutional Quality of the Public Ministry and Gabriela Villalobos, current director of the Judicial Office of Impugnations. Both referred to the importance of good administrative management for the functioning of the Criminal Justice Office and the management of the hearing scheduling system.

As part of the visit, meetings were held with judges who shared their daily experiences in management and the difficulties they had during implementation.

The delegation had the opportunity to witness part of a trial by jury of conscience, in terms of interrogation techniques and cross-examination of witnesses and experts.

As part of the planned activities, the group met with Prosecutor Maximiliano Breide, Chief of the Office of the Prosecutor for Environmental Crimes and Special Laws, and Patricia Romina Lupica, Criminal Judge. The working group focused on the management of pre-trial hearings and quality control of the processes.

The Panamanian judicial officials had a meeting with Pablo Vignarolli, Chief Prosecutor and Carina Álvarez, Judge of Guarantees, who shared the current reality regarding the application of precautionary measures and pretrial detention in Neuquen.

Subsequently, Prosecutor Maximiliano Breide referred to the need for the criminal justice system to be reinvented on a daily basis through the implementation of technological innovations that speed up the work and shorten times in cases of flagrante delicto. In Neuquen the term of presentation and decision by a Judge of Guarantees, in case of flagrante delicto, is 24 hours.  For this reason, the Public Prosecutor's Office developed a secure and efficient application for the police to inform the Prosecutor and defenders in real time of the occurrence of crimes in flagrante delicto and to collect the information generated from all witnesses, victims, generals of the accused and even management of the chain of custody and photos of the evidence and packaging, which allows them to work with greater speed the hearings of control of apprehension, imputation and request for precautionary measures. 

Fernando Sviling, Judge of the Court of Impugnation, and Pablo Vignarolli, Chief Prosecutor, exchanged knowledge and experiences about the resources available at the impugnation stage and their corresponding application.

The judicial officials, within the same process by jury of conscience, witnessed the closing arguments, which gave them an interesting perspective of how prosecutors and defenders use the case theory for their closing arguments. At the end of the trial, they held a meeting with the members of the jury of conscience in order to learn their opinions regarding this type of trial and their experiences.

The Panamanian judges spoke with Sebastián Lafón, head of the Office of Communication and Image of the Public Prosecutor's Office, who was in charge of explaining the importance of effective and efficient communication in the cases by the judges, through simple language at the time of writing their sentences.

Leticia Lorenzo, Judge of Guarantees, exposed on the importance of the intermediate hearing: control of the accusation and evidentiary purging, whose purpose is to define if an accusation has sufficient elements to advance to trial.

In this working group, Judge Lorenzo emphasized the importance of the judge's work on the quality control of the evidence that was practiced in the trial.

Ulf Christian Eiras Nordenstahl, Director of Mediation and Criminal Conciliation of the Public Prosecutor's Office, spoke about the effective application of Restorative Criminal Justice. He also referred to conciliation and criminal mediation as alternative methods for conflict resolution.

He indicated that it is important for society to know that there are mechanisms for the solution of criminal controversies which are at its disposal, which contributes to social pacification.

At the end of the visit, the Panamanian delegation, together with that of the judiciary, gave feedback on the fulfilment of the objectives planned in the agenda for the visit and made suggestions regarding the content of the programme for the groups that have this experience pending.