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Public Defense Seminar Held

Chitré, 5 November 2019. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean in Panama (UNODC ROPAN) and the Public Defense Institute of the Judicial Branch held the XXVIII Seminar of Public Defense from October 31 to November 1, in the city of Chitré, province of Herrera.

This event, attended by 200 public defenders, was held with the objective of analyzing aspects of daily life in the different jurisdictions served by public defense.

At the opening ceremony, the Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice, Hernan De Leon, spoke about the need for ongoing academic training and highlighted the participation of national and international speakers, who will provide techniques and tools to Defenders in order to better serve the community.

The Director of the Public Defense Institute, Danilo Montenegro, invited attendees to take advantage of the knowledge provided during the three-day training.

An important figure in democracy

For her part, Melissa M. Flynn, Director of Operations and Programmes at UNODC ROPAN, stressed that this Office "has accompanied the Public Defence Institute since 2015 in the process of change generated by the adoption of the new criminal justice system, providing technical advice and recommendations, and directly influencing aspects related to the design of the management model used by the Public Defence".

"We are committed to recommending the beginning of discussions for the revision of the management model, making changes in the way the service is provided, adapting it to the needs of the system," Flynn said.

He stressed that "Public Defense is one of the most important figures that democracies have, as they are guarantors of respect for human rights and watchdogs of the due process of both nationals and foreigners, who at a given time might need their services.


As part of the agenda, Juan Francisco Castillo spoke on "Ethics and the Public Defender"; Dr. Jose Daniel Hidalgo Murillo, from Mexico, was in charge of the topic "Use of the theory of crime in the criminal process" and Sergio Cuarezma Terán, from Nicaragua, spoke on "Theory of the case and defense".

Celia Delgado addressed the audience to talk about "Examination and counterexamination of witnesses and experts", while Roberto Cortes spoke about "The application of different alternatives for the enforcement of the sentence in light of international conventions".

Useful concepts

Arcenia Solis, Public Defender in the province of Cocle (II Judicial District), considers that the speakers were of the highest level, dominated the subject and showed excellent management of the audience.

She believes that this event "has been very useful because the concepts developed, such as conventionality control, illicit evidence, agreements, case theory and crime theory are essential issues in the different hearings in which we must participate to represent the interests of the people appointed to us.