The European Union programme, EL PAcCTO, has promoted the creation of an Inter-institutional Technical Committee (ITC) of Central Authorities for International Cooperation in Panama. The CTI will enable better coordination of the work of Panamanian justice institutions that coordinate international cooperation against organised crime.
Its constituent institutions today formalised its implementation with the signature of their highest representatives.
Javier Caraballo, Attorney General of the Nation of Panama highlighted that the Committee “meets one of the needs identified by the FATF, to improve the process of issuing and receiving requests for international legal assistance in criminal matters that are issued and received by the country”.
For his part, Chris Hoornaert, European Union ambassador in Panama, pointed to “the specific achievement that setting up this Committee represents, enabling as it does the creation of a common justice agenda between the two sides of the Atlantic. EL PAcCTO and the EU will continue to support this effort, sound proof of the impact our programme is having”, said the Ambassador.
The Panama Government Minister (Minister of the Interior), Janina Tewaney, stressed that “the CTI is a coordination body that, in addition, uses technology to respect basic procedural principles“.
Finally, Luis Ramón Fábrega, president of the Supreme Court of Justice, stated that “the CTI will provide immediate benefits in the fight against organised crime since it allows us to respond effectively, efficiently and quickly to requests for international legal assistance in criminal matters received by the Republic of Panama”.
Coordination is key to effectively fight organised crime
The Central Authorities are bodies designated by each State to facilitate international legal cooperation. In the case of Panama, the central authorities are the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Government (Ministry of the Interior), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General’s Office of the Nation of Panama.
“In some Central American countries there are several central authorities, not just one. This is the case of Panama, which has four. When a prosecutor or judge from another country sends a request, they can send it to four different authorities. If all four of them receive it at the same time, they may return it because they do not consider themselves competent”, explains Antonio Roma, coordinator of the Justice Systems component of EL PAcCTO.
“The same thing happens the other way around, the prosecutor or the judge have to send the request to another country through a central authority and, perhaps, if the agreement is not correctly mentioned, the request may not be effective”, adds Roma, the Spanish prosecutor.
Therefore, with the CTI, the aim is to establish coordination between all the authorities so that matters are shared, so they have regulations on good practice, the same internal working papers and normative proposals for updating legislation.
EL PAcCTO has already carried out several work consultancies to prepare the legal documents that incorporate the Inter-institutional Technical Committee. In addition, the Panamanian institutions are going to work incorporating the COOPERAJUS digital tool that has been built by EL PAcCTO to facilitate the issue of requests for international legal assistance.