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VIII Congress of the Adversarial System of Panama is Held

Panama, 20 September 2019. From 18 to 20 September, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Central America and the Caribbean and the Judicial Branch of Panama held the Eighth National Congress of the Adversarial System, as part of the eight years of implementation of this system of criminal prosecution throughout the Republic of Panama.

The event was attended by approximately 200 judicial officials, including judges of the Court of Appeals, judges, public defenders, victims' defenders, experts and members of the National Bar Association.

At the opening ceremony, Ms. Melissa Flynn, Director of Programs and Operations of UNODC ROPAN, indicated that in the process of implementing the Adversarial System, "UNODC has been distinguished with the mission of providing technical advice, directly affecting aspects related to the design of the management model used by the judicial offices, the Public Defense and the Public Defense of Victims."

She highlighted that the Judicial Branch with the accompaniment of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has "worked on the development of training designs to provide judges, prosecutors, victims' defenders and public defenders, the necessary tools to acquire the skills to carry out their work, always framed in respect for human rights and the implementation of international conventions of which Panama is a signatory."

She added that UNODC has collaborated "with the construction of two modern training rooms in the Superior Institute of the Judiciary; in the county areas of Llano Tugrí and Kusapin the construction of two modern county courts is beginning, which symbolize the commitment of the Judicial Branch in the administration of Panamanian justice to give access to justice to vulnerable populations."

Flynn emphasized that "the new task is to work on the consolidation of the new system" and explained that "consolidating implies adjusting and achieving excellence. To see with a critical eye what we can improve, what we must adjust, and what is failing, and why it is failing."

"The challenge now for UNODC and to which we add the Judicial Branch is to work in the excellence of the judicial offices, as an office of service to the judge and to the users; where there is a marked separation between the administrative function and the judicial function," said the director of operations and programs of UNODC.

The Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice and coordinator of the Adversarial System, José E. Ayú Prado Canals referred to restorative justice, citizen security, the achievement of monitoring for transparency and make the necessary adjustments, apply the Judicial Career Law and fight to reduce prison overcrowding, among other imperatives.

"The success for the implementation of the Adversarial System goes hand in hand with the conclusion of the discharge in the Public Ministry and the conclusion of the liquidation of the Judicial Branch, since in Cocle, Herrera and Los Santos was achieved, the best efforts have been made that deserve applause in Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, but this has not been possible in Panama, San Miguelito, Panama West, Colon and Darien," said the coordinator of the SPA.

This congress dealt with various topics such as "Alternative solutions for solving the criminal conflict", by the Attorney General of Neuquen, Argentina, José Gerez; "Professional ethics and the public servant", by Julio Murray, President of the Ecumenical Committee and Sergio Aleo, researcher of the Anti-Corruption Office of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, spoke about money laundering and crypto-money.

Bertha Nayelly Loya, research officer of UNODC El Salvador and specialist in digital documents, referred to the technical aspects of digital evidence and Luisa Fernandez, coordinator of UNODC projects and expert in penitentiary treatment in Guatemala, gave a presentation on attention to the prison population in conditions of vulnerability.