Thursday 27th April 2023.
April 26, 2023
The unions of journalists in Panama expressed this Wednesday, April 26, at a press conference, their rejection of the fine imposed on La Prensa by the Data Protection Directorate of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) , for publish a photo of the deputy and president of the ruling Democratic Revolutionary Party, Benicio Robinson .
“It is the second sanction that a media outlet has received from the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information. It has filled all of us with great concern, especially at the time when the country is facing: elections,” said Gricelda Melo , president of the National College of Journalists ( Conape ).
“The Panamanian press cannot be kidnapped,” added Melo at a press conference, which was also attended by the president of the Forum of Journalists for Freedom of Expression and Information , Alejandra Araúz , and the president of Corporación La Prensa, SA ( Corprensa ), Diego Quijano.
Araúz said that this position is supported by the National Journalism Council (CNP), the Panamanian Broadcasting Association and the Chiriquí Journalists Association. The three of them, together with the Forum, signed a statement the day before in which they expressed their rejection of Antai’s actions.
La Antai imposed a $5,000 fine on La Prensa for publishing a photograph of Congressman Benicio Robinson in a journalistic note about his business with transportation and the quotas granted in concession by the Transit and Land Transportation Authority. All the information used in the report was provided by State entities to the journalist Mary Triny Zea , invoking Law 6 of 2002 , on transparency and access to public information.
Quijano, for his part, recalled that there are already two fines imposed by Antai, alleging violations of Law 81 of 2019, on the protection of personal data. The previous fine went to the digital site La Verdad Panamá , which published a marriage certificate that had been provided to the outlet by one of the spouses. “Therefore, it is almost a jurisprudence on the part of Antai on how it will give interpretations in the future,” he added.
Quijano called on the presidential candidates and deputy candidates to make a statement “if they are on the side of democracy and freedom of the press.” Some have already spoken out, such as former president Martín Torrijos, José Blandón, Rómulo Roux and Eduardo Quirós, among others. All have expressed their rejection of Antai’s decision.
After the sanction imposed on La Prensa by the Data Protection Directorate of the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) was made known, for publishing a photograph of deputy Benicio Robinson in a journalistic note about his business with the transportation and the quotas granted by the Transit and Land Transportation Authority, the entity justified the measure, alleging that the newspaper did not prove the “licit” use of the photographic material.
“The applied fine was established in clear precepts established in the laws that regulate the matter,” said Antai, in a statement released on Tuesday.
It specifies that Corporación La Prensa, SA (Corprensa) filed an appeal for reconsideration, to which “the corresponding legal procedure will be printed.”
Robinson filed the complaint against La Prensa in March 2022, alleging violations of Law 81 of 2019, on the protection of personal data.
Meanwhile, the Presidency of the Republic supported Antai’s position through a statement issued last night.
The Presidency declares that it respects the “autonomy” of State entities. He recalled that the fine applied by Antai was appealed and that “they trust that this process will be carried out without delay and without unnecessary pressure.”
The president of the Assembly and presidential candidate, Crispiano Adames, raised this Wednesday, April 26, the revision of Law 81 of 2019, on the protection of personal data, at a time when journalistic unions and organizations expressed their concern about the fine imposed on La Press by the National Authority for Transparency and Access to Information (Antai) , for publishing a photo of Deputy Benicio Robinson .
Adames said that public figures must understand that they are subject to scrutiny or investigation ‘per se’.
“Particularly to me that does not bother me for being a public figure that has an impact on the national reality,” he added.
The candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) considered that the data protection law should be reviewed in order to turn it into a “categorical and specific norm, to avoid being subject to interpretation.”
Antai imposed a $5,000 fine on La Prensa for publishing a photograph of Congressman Benicio Robinson in a journalistic note about his business with transportation and the quotas granted in concession by the Transit and Land Transportation Authority. All the information used in the report was provided by State entities to the journalist Mary Triny Zea , invoking Law 6 of 2002 , on transparency and access to public information.
The Association of Free Consumers of Panama (ACL) described as “regrettable” the approval in the first debate in the National Assembly of bill 986, which establishes that digital transport platforms would be obliged to belong to a selective public transport provider .
Raúl Molina, president of the ACL, argued that the proposal “seeks to take the country back 30 years” and that digital platforms stop being a private service to turn it into a bad public service.
Service, he said, that held users “hostage until the digital platforms, which already operate in thousands of markets, arrived as a private and legal option to which all users have the right.”
He added that this law only has one beneficiary: the concessionaires that are the same ones that “profit and have kidnapped the taxi service that has not been modernized” and that now “want to do the same with digital platforms: get involved to corrupt the system, fill their pockets, without caring about the user”.
The digital platforms that work in Panama, such as Uber, have expressed their rejection of the project, which was approved on Tuesday, April 25, by the Transportation and Communication Commission of the Assembly. The document must be discussed in the second and third debate in the legislative plenary session.
Guillermo Ferrufino, former Minister of Social Development, lost his last battle in the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) in a case related to corruption.
The Criminal Chamber of the CSJ did not admit an appeal filed by the former official against the sentence of July 29, 2022 issued by the Superior Court of Liquidation, which confirmed a sentence of 48 months in prison because he received a Toyota truck, for for your personal use, from two companies that transferred $110,000 to you through a third party. The money was delivered as a “donation” in exchange for contracts with the State.
The verdict also reached Ángel Brennan and Tomás Rugliancich, who were each sentenced to 36 months in prison.
The decision of the Court is consigned in edict 111 established yesterday, Tuesday, April 25. The rapporteur for the case was Judge Ariadne Maribel García.
In the trial of this case, held on January 12, 2022, the discharge anti-corruption prosecutor, Olmedo Gómez, requested the conviction of the three involved and gave details of how the minister supposedly received the vehicle in 2013.
In the investigation by the prosecution, it was determined that Tomás Rugliancich, owner of Security Safe Cajas Fuertes, SA, one of the two companies that, according to the investigations carried out by the First Anti-Corruption Prosecutor, would have given Ferrufino the sum of $50,000 for the purchase of the car.
Meanwhile, Ángel Brennan appears as president of the Food Gel, SA company, which would have issued a check for $60,000, also for the acquisition of the vehicle.
Ferrufino also maintains another sentence of six years in prison for the crime of unjustified enrichment. This sentence was handed down in February 2022, but it is not final, since the former minister’s defense filed an appeal before the Criminal Chamber of the Court.
Several environmental organizations have in their sights the draft law 220 , through which hazardous waste is managed in the country, considering that it is “harmful” for Panama.
The document was presented on March 21 by the representative of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , Víctor Castillo , and has to do with the import and export of hazardous waste for disposal in the country.
According to the bill, Panama would behave as a hazardous material incineration zone , as long as some environmental and sanitary regulations are complied with. However, for organizations such as the Environmental Advocacy Center and the Alliance for Conservation and Development, the bill is risky because it would transform the country into a “dump” for hazardous material.
Currently, Law 8 of June 7, 1991 prohibits the importation of any form of toxic and polluting waste into the national territory. But with the new regulations, the importation of hazardous waste is allowed when it is carried out under conditions that do not endanger human health and the environment, when there are approved waste management facilities in the country and when cross-border movements comply with the criteria agreed in the Basel Convention.
Despite all these precautions and warnings, what worries environmentalists is that if the country cannot take care of the waste it generates, how will it be responsible for what is generated in other nations and much more if they are of a dangerous nature? .
The biologist from the Center for Environmental Advocacy, Isaías Ramos, argues that bill 220 is an attack against the country’s public health and transforms Panama into a garbage dump for the world.