Wednesday 12th April 2023.

April 11, 2023



The governments of the United States (EU), Colombia and Panama, committed to developing an action plan that must be implemented within a period of 12 months, with the purpose of combating networks dedicated to human trafficking that operate in the Darien jungle.

The plan includes, among other things, humanitarian treatment for migrants who cross the Darien jungle to continue their way to the US.

The statement that was signed this Tuesday, April 11, by the US Secretary of Security, Alejandro Mayorkas ; the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, Janaina Tewaney Mencomo ; and the Foreign Minister of Colombia, Álvaro Leyva; includes an action plan to combat criminal networks dedicated to human trafficking and migrant smuggling, whether by land or sea.

Between January and March, 87,390 irregular migrants crossed Darién en route to the United States, that is, seven times more than in the first quarter of 2022, according to data from the National Migration Service (SNM ) .

While statistics from the Ministry of Security reveal that in 12 operations carried out during 2022 and 2023 they have captured more than 175 Panamanians and Colombians, linked to crimes of robbery, theft and illicit trafficking to the detriment of irregular migrants. In these operations, 18 firearms, 108 rounds of ammunition, 27 boats and 10 vehicles have been seized.

The sanitary landfill of Cerro Patacón was declared this Tuesday by the Government in an “environmental emergency state”, which entails an inter-institutional intervention to mitigate and restore “the environmental disaster” that has been created.

The decision was made at the Cabinet Council session , which instructs the Environment and Health ministries, the Home Cleaning Authority (AAUD) and other institutions to take actions to mitigate the damage in the landfill.

Milciades Concepción, Minister of the Environment, stressed that the emergency is necessary to better manage the landfill in the face of environmental and health risks.

The Panamanian authorities hold the previous administration of the sanitary landfill, in charge of the Urbalia company, responsible for the mismanagement of the waste.

During the validity of the state of emergency, the acquisition of necessary goods and services is authorized. It was reported that this would be done in accordance with the sole text of Law 22 of 2006, ordered by Law 153 of 2020.

In addition, the Executive informed that the Ministry of Security is instructed to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee security in the sanitary landfill of Cerro Patacón and in the areas of direct influence during the validity of the measure.

On March 26, 2023, the government terminated the contract with the Urbalia company, which, according to reports presented by the AAUD and the Ministry of the Environment, “failed to comply” with current environmental provisions in the management of the landfill, which It earned them the imposition of more than 105 sanctions for almost $1 million.

Three days later, on March 29, the government announced that Ecolimpia was the new company that would operate the sanitary landfill on Cerro Patacón, in the township of Ancón, replacing Urbalia Panama.

On that date, the Presidency reported that Ecolimpia was selected through the online quotation procedure and satisfactorily completed 30 points of compliance with environmental and labor actions that it must execute to operate the 160 hectares of the landfill.

The technical table established by the Commission of Government and Constitutional Affairs of the National Assembly to analyze the bill 625 that adopts the legislation for the extinction of domain of illegal assets, met this Tuesday, April 11, in what was its fourth day.

The debate centered on what would be the jurisdiction of the law. Lawyers, specialists and representatives do not agree on this matter, as some advocate that it be a jurisdiction that is part of the Public Ministry (MP), while others suggest that it be under the wing of the Comptroller General of the Republic.

Leandro Ávila, deputy president of the Government Commission, said he did not agree with the extinction of domain remaining in the hands of the Comptroller and stressed that on the contrary, it should be an independent entity, a kind of authority that relies on the Public ministry. “Including that the same Public Ministry can investigate it and can also be supervised by the Supreme Court of Justice in order to maintain the balances in the powers of the State and that there is a healthy administration of this new execution that would be, for example, domain extinction address. I think the bottom line is that you can do the job from the end of the illicit activity muscle. It’s all part of what you have to see,” he said.

The deputy also referred to the appointment of domain extinction prosecutors and judges. On this matter, he stated that the MP and the Court could propose shortlists for those appointments.

Among the voices in favor of the proposal, is that of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Security, Jonathan Riggs, who maintains that consensus is sought in the discussions to build a document that adjusts to the national reality and takes into account the catalog of crimes that has been proposed by the technical table. “We have worked on the bill that has changed from the day the report was presented until today. Progress is made in the fourth meeting of the technical table. We have a consensus on around 14 articles and it gives us hope that the country can count on the law for extinction of domain. A legal framework that seeks to combat the illicit finances of organized crime,” he added.

Riggs further stated that the amendments to the bill have been made. He added that the catalog of crimes that are proposed in the initiative targets organized crime, drug trafficking and related crimes, including extortion, extortion, robbery, homicide, assassination, human trafficking, trafficking smuggling of migrants and money laundering.

When asked about the crime against public administration, which was included in the original bill, Riggs replied that this article was dismissed.

Drivers of digital platforms expressed this Tuesday their rejection of bill 896, which establishes that this sector would be obliged to belong to a selective public transport provider.

Members of the National Union of Drivers of Digital and Similar Platforms gathered this Tuesday and marched towards the National Assembly to protest against this initiative that will be analyzed in the first debate yesterday.

The Communication and Transportation Commission of the Assembly plans to start this morning the debate on this project that establishes “the regulatory framework for the use of information and communication technology platforms, in the luxury taxi service.”

“We oppose project 896 because we consider it unconstitutional by violating the citizen’s rights to choose; in the first instance, to the users who have adopted this transportation system as their own,” said José Gabriel Lezcano, leader of this group of drivers.

In the spotlight is article 5 of the proposal, which states, among other things, that “companies dedicated to the development and commercialization of technological platforms, for the use of intermediation in the provision of the selective public passenger transport service, may only hire with the companies providing selective transport so that the concessionaires of the operation certificate of these companies can opt for the provision of this form of luxury taxi service in their respective work area at the national level…”.

Lezcano affirmed that this bill only benefits the borrowers and not the taxi drivers, nor the platform drivers, much less the users.

The website requests support for the collection of 2,500 signatures rejecting the document. “Let’s say NO to bill 185 that will leave more than 8,000 Panamanians unemployed!” is part of the message.

Uber, one of the platforms that is in the Panamanian market, reacted on this issue and reported that they sent a letter to the Transportation Commission of the Assembly in which their opposition to the initiative is expressed.

“This is because since 2017 Executive Decree 331 was approved , which regulates the ICT luxury transportation service, it was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Justice in July 2020. During all this time we have adhered to the regulation, operating in healthy competition and for the benefit of users ”, is reflected in a statement from Uber.

The modality remains the same as the last two years: criminal groups steal vehicles and then sell them through social networks, market them in parts, or takes them out of the country to Central America.

Between January and March of this year, the National Police recovered 280 cars that had reports of theft or robbery.

One of these groups, according to reports from the security authorities, was located on April 7 in the San Isidro area, San Miguelito district, where several cars with reports of theft were recovered. The police found taxis, sedans and four cars already dismantled.

In this case it is suspected that the cars were sold for parts.

Intelligence reports from the Judicial Investigation Directorate (DIJ) and the Public Ministry reveal that a large part of stolen vehicles are sold on social networks or by selling as parts.

Among the areas with the highest incidence of robbery and theft of vehicles are the sectors of Amador, Betania, Bella Vista, Calidonia, San Francisco and Parque Lefevre, in the capital. The district of San Miguelito is also added to the list. Investigations indicate that criminal networks operate in shopping centers and places where there is little surveillance.

Gangs dedicated to the theft of car computers have also been detected, which are then sold clandestinely in used car parts stores.

In 2022, the police recovered 920 stolen or stolen cars. While more than 2 thousand complaints were filed for these crimes throughout the country


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