President of Panamá and Human Rights Ambassador, Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez
Updated: Nov 3, 2019
HAUT-COMMISSARIAT AUX DROITS DE L'HOMME • OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
PALAIS DES NATIONS • 1211 GENEVA 10, SWITZERLAND
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment degrading
October 26, 2015
I have the honour to address you in my capacity as Special Rapporteur on the torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in accordance with resolution 25/13 of the Human Rights Council.
In this context, I would like to draw the urgent attention of the Government of Excellency the information I have received regarding the conditions and treatment during the arrest of Mr. Nicholas Tuffney. The allegations indicate that conditions within penitentiary centres, such as overcrowding and others, would have led to a series of cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment and even torture against Mr. Tuffney, on the part of others deprived of their liberty, as well as on the part of authorities of the three penitentiary centres where he was detained, impacting negatively on the physical and mental integrity of Mr. Tuffney.
According to the information received: Mr Nicolas Tuffney was arrested in April 2013 by forces police at the Tocumen International Airport. Subsequently, he would have been transferred to Ancón, Police Detention Centre; once in this centre, where he remained for a period of two weeks, Mr Tuffney would have suffered from abuses, harassment and intimidation by others deprived of their liberty, as well as by the authorities of the penitentiary centre. Fear of abuse of the other persons deprived of their liberty would have caused Mr Tuffney not to leave his cell, not even to make use of the bathroom. Also during this, Mr Tuffney would not have had a place to sleep and he would have had to sleep on the concrete floor. At this time he would have lost 25 pounds.
Mr Tuffney would have been transferred to the San José de la Palma Hospital in Darien, where he would have been hospitalized for a period of two weeks due to deterioration of their health conditions. Subsequently, and against the recommendations of the doctor, he would have been transferred to the La Palma prison on 8 June 2013 where he would have remained until 16 July of the same year.
During the almost two months of imprisonment in this penitentiary, he was kept handcuffed every day and was not allowed to stand or move freely. He would also not have been allowed to exercise and, although the condition of his joints continued to deteriorate, they would not have offered any medication. On several occasions, and due to the poor and inadequate water drainage conditions in the prison, Mr Tuffney was allegedly damaged by flooding. You would not have been able to use personal hygiene products, including toilet paper, drinking water.
Then, for no apparent reason, he would have been transferred from La Palma prison to the La Joya prison on 16 July 2013 where he would have been held until August 27, 2014. Their evaluation for infectious diseases would not have been practised by the fact that on their arrival the change of authorities of the penitentiary would have been unfinished. In the building where Mr Tuffney was held would have been found between 430 and 520 persons deprived of their liberty, when the building has the capacity of more than 240 people. Mr Tuffney would have slept on the concrete floor. In terms of health conditions, those deprived of liberty would have had to improvise with bottles to collect water from the rain or to place tubes in the patios to rinse the water from the toilets. However, in the drought, water would have been insufficient or non-existent. For a period of 10 days, the deprived of their liberty, including Mr Tuffney, would not have had access to water, nor even to water that they could buy inside the detention centre.
In addition, inmates within the penitentiary would have been categorised as pre-trial or sentenced. Together to overcrowding, excessive heat, restrictions to move within imprisonment and the absence of activities would have led to acts of violence among inmates.
As for hygiene and health treatments, the medicines would have been sold by the authorities or by the inmates themselves. In addition, Mr Tuffney would have asked by the Director of the Prison psychological evaluation, which was ignored. After staying in this detention centre for more than a year, he would have been transferred to the Centre for the Detention of Migrants since August 27, 2014, until September 9, 2014. The centre would have had thin mattresses on the floor, but only two of the rooms had windows, these would have been the only entrances of fresh air. So the centre would not have basic needs of hygiene and cleanliness, nor would it have counted with immediate medical assistance within the Centre.
After being released from prison Mr Tuffney's mental capacity would have been seriously affected. Their mobility would be severely limited due to the progression of osteoarthritis caused by their arrest. I would also experience anguish and suffering because of this detention.
Without wishing to prejudge the truth of these allegations, I would like to express my concern for these facts. I would like to appeal to the Government of your Excellency to seek clarification to ensure that violations of the right to physical and mental integrity of Mr Tuffney, as well as of the detainees of La Joya and of the other detention centres mentioned previously do not continue to occur. I would like to emphasise that the Government has the obligation to protect the life and integrity of individuals under his custody, as are those deprived of liberty.
These rights are enshrined in Articles 3 and 5 of the Declaration Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Articles 6 and 7 of the International Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the Government of Panama on March 8, 1977, and Articles 2 and 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, ratified by Panama on August 24, 1987.
In relation to the above allegations, please find enclosed the Annex of references to international human rights law which summarises the relevant international instruments and principles.
It is my responsibility in accordance with the mandate given to me by the Human Rights Council to try to clarify the allegations brought to my attention.
In this regard, I would be grateful to have the cooperation and comments of Your Excellency on the following matters:
1. Please provide all the information you have about the claims.
2. Please provide detailed information as well as the results if available, from any investigation, medical and judicial examination or another type of research that has been carried out in this case. If these have not taken place or have not been concluded, please explain the reason why?
3. In the event that the alleged perpetrators of the offences have been identified and arrested, please provide detailed information on the judicial and administrative proceedings. Have you imposed any penal, disciplinary or administrative sanction to the alleged culprits/perpetrators?
4. Please indicate what compensation, repair and rehabilitation have been taken in favour of the victim on account of these events.
I would be grateful if you would receive a reply from Your Excellency's Government to these questions in a maximum period of 60 days.
Pending its reply, I would like to urge the Government of your Excellency to take all necessary measures to protect the rights and freedoms and to investigate, prosecute and impose sanctions on the person responsible for the alleged violations. I would also urge you to take effective measures to avoid those such facts if they occur or are repeated.
I guarantee that the response of Your Excellency's Government will be included in the report to be submitted to the Human Rights Council. Accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Juan E. Méndez
Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
References to international human rights law
With regard to the allegations, I would like to appeal to the principles applicable in accordance with international law in this case.
I would like to draw the attention of your Government to article 6 of the Covenant International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by the Government of Panama on March 8, 1977, which provides that every individual has the right to life and personal safety. When the State detains an individual is found obliged to maintain a high level of diligence to protect the rights of that person.
I would like to remind the Government of His Excellency of the absolute and of torture and ill-treatment as set out in Articles 7 of the ICCPR and 2 and 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) ratified by Panama on 24 August 1987.
I would also like to reiterate to the Government of your Excellency the Principles for the protection of all persons subject to any form of detention or imprisonment (adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988). The Committee against Torture and the Human Rights Committee have concluded that conditions of detention may constitute inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
I remind the Government of your Excellency of the Minimum Rules for Treatment of the Prisoners, provision 22 (2) of which provides that "The transfer of patients whose condition requires special care, to prisons with specialised hospitals or civil hospitals. When the establishment has services like a hospital, they will be provided with the material, instruments and pharmaceutical products necessary to provide sick prisoners with the necessary
care and treatment. In addition, staff must have sufficient resources. In this context, I would like to refer to Recommendation E / CN.4 / 2003/68, paragraph
26 (j) of the former Special Rapporteur on Torture, which states that "the countries should take effective measures to prevent violence among prisoners by investigating reports of this type of violence, prosecuting and punishing those responsible and offering protection to the people without marginalising them from the penitentiary population more than what the needs of protection demand and without subjecting them to new risks of bad treatment. Training programs should be considered to sensitise official’s prisons about the importance of taking effective measures to prevent and stop with abuses among prisoners, and equip them with means to do so. In accordance with Set of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Subject to Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, prisoners should be divided by sex, age and severity of the crime allegedly committed, and to separate those who have committed for the first time and the recidivists, and those detained in pre-trial detention and those convicted. "
Finally, I would like to refer to the Minimum Rules for the Treatment of prisoners, adopted by the Economic and Social Council in its resolutions 663C (XXIV) of July 31, 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of May 13, 1977 which establish certain criteria for the cells of persons deprived of liberty in principle 9 (1) and (2) provides that: "Cells or rooms intended for night-time isolation shall not be occupied by more than one prisoner. If for special reasons, such as excess of the prison population, it would be essential that the administration prison system should make exceptions to this rule, it should be avoided that two inmates in each individual cell or room. 2) When resorting to dormitories, these should be filled by carefully selected prisoners suitable to be housed in these conditions. At night, they will be subjected to regular surveillance, adapted to the type of establishment concerned. "I would also like to remind the Government of your Excellency of articles 7 and 12 of that Convention, which requires, respectively, that any State Party ensure that, provided that there are reasonable grounds to believe that within its jurisdiction there has been committed an act of torture, the competent prompt and impartial investigation and that any State Party prosecute alleged perpetrators of acts of torture.
In this regard, I note Human Rights Council Resolution 16/23,paragraph 7 (b) which urges States to hold those responsible who perpetrate acts of torture, but also that: "(those persons who) encourage, order, tolerate or to commit acts of torture are held liable and punishable by penalties proportional to the gravity of the offence, including officials in charge of the place of detention in which the prohibited act took place. "
I also recall the thematic report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (A / 69/387), in which the Special Rapporteur stresses that the CAT provides three fundamental pillars in the fight against torture, which is the obligation of States to ensure justice, to prevent all acts of torture and ensure the repair by them. The obligation to investigate is essential to achieve those three main pillars (paragraph 21). Moreover, the fact that it is not investigated, together with lack of accountability, perpetuates the practice of torture and other ill-treatment (paragraph 20).
I would like to draw Your Excellency's attention to article 14 of the Convention against torture and other cruel treatment or inhuman and degrading punishment, which provides that victims of such cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment have the right to reparation and just compensation. In this regard, I would like to recall paragraph 7 (e) of the Human Rights that urges States to "ensure that the victims of torturer other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment obtain reparation and receive fair and adequate compensation, as well as social, psychological and medical services
and other relevant and specialized rehabilitation services, and urges States to establish, maintain, facilitate or support centres or facilities of rehabilitation where victims of torture can receive such treatment and take effective measures to ensure the safety of their staff and patients.
Finally, I would like to recall that Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, provides the right of everyone to the enjoyment of highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes the obligation for all States to guarantee access to health, with goods and services accessible to all, especially for those segments of the population in situations of vulnerability or marginality, without any discrimination. I would also like to refer the Government of your Excellency General Comments No. 14 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which states that: "States have an obligation to respect the right to health, in particular by refraining from denying or limiting equal access to all persons, including prisoners or detainees, representatives of minorities, asylum-seekers or illegal immigrants, preventive health services,
Curative and palliative care [...] "(paragraph 34).
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President Varela awaits jail, Juan Carlos Tapia predicted
15th November 2017
The political analyst assures that the Panamanian leader could be imprisoned after several denunciations of his alleged link with Odebrecht.
The below document was personally delivered to the previous president by my attorney and was duly stamped by the presidential palace as being received, this letter was laying out my concerns about the judicial corruption of my case. Despite president Varela's lack of response, this was also mirrored by the previous president Ricardo Martinelli, but still, nothing was done and fell on deaf ears.
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Corruption At Its Finest
According to some of his closest associates interviewed by this newspaper, Mr Varela is an obstinate and pig-headed leader, who finds it hard to listen and to accept that he may be in the wrong. Some go as far as to describe him as “a despot”, and now that he is president as someone who is “utterly inaccessible”.
As soon as he took power in 2014, Mr. Varela took immediate action to remove from the Panamanian market the only company that represented direct competition to his family business: Varela Hermanos S.A. Such was the fate of Campos de Pesé S.A., a company belonging to Grupo Pellas, one of Central America's largest business groups.
Campos de Pesé had made an incursion into ethanol production, but as of 2014, it had also launched two products that were in direct competition with those of Varela Hermanos: Seco SL and Ron Canalero. Having seen its operations suspended since 2014, Campos de Pesé has been fighting a legal battle to have them re-established via the courts. 900 people have lost their jobs as a result of the company which was government-ordered shut down.
Having taken out of the competition, President Varela proceeded to favour his family business further by passing Law 126, which raised the duties applicable to beer to the same level as those for hard liquors. The president also went as far as to promote the interests of Varela Hermanos S.A. internationally: In September 2015, Mr Varela invited his own brother and general manager of the family company, Luis “Fulo” Varela, on an official visit to Cuba, so that he could make the initial contacts aimed at launching operations in that market. This confidential information was provided by a close associate of the president on condition of anonymity.
Stanley Motta, Owner of TVN-2
Known as “The Master”, Mr Stanley Motta was President Varela’s principal campaign donor.
He is arguably the person who exerts the most influence in the current administration: his business interests are considerable and extend from Copa Airlines, TVN Canal 2.
President Varela has been complicit in allowing Mr Motta to pick and choose which government positions would be filled by the latter’s own men of confidence. Logically, Mr Motta made sure that his associates were appointed to positions where they could best favour his principal business interest. One blatant example of that was the appointment of Joseph Fidanque III, a former executive at Copa Airlines, to the position of general manager of Tocumen Airport. One of the first actions Mr Fidanque III took, was to halt the construction of the south terminal at Tocumen Airport so that plans could be altered to fit the specific requirements of Copa airlines. Mr Fidanque III has also favoured another Motta related business, insurer Assa, with a contract worth $1.95m to cover the employees of the Airport terminal.
Mr Motta equally managed to get government approval allowing Copa airlines to fly to Chiriquí Airport, a route to the west of the country favoured by tourists. A number of local airlines lodged a complaint about unfair competition, as the permit to operate national flights should have compelled Copa airlines to cover less profitable routes. The lawsuits for the unfair competition went nowhere.
Yet another public appointment awarded to a Motta associate was that of Ivan Barria, now the head of Etesa, and brother to Aurelio Barria, an executive director at Motta International. Last September, in a surprise move, Etesa awarded a massive contract to Gas Natural del Atlantico, a subsidiary of AES, for the provision of 350MW of thermal power to the Panamanian grid. The contract award was subject to complaints by two competing firms, one of them Panama Power Corp. (Ippco), a company owned by U.S. investors, who claimed that the decision was in clear breach of Panamanian antitrust regulation. In spite of the risk of market abuse potentially resulting in higher energy costs for consumers, the Panamanian regulators turned a blind eye and the complaint was buried in the sand. Etesa’s only communication on the subject was to state that the National Authority for Public Services (Asep) had published an opinion of “no objection” on the bids presented.
Mr Motta is also a shareholder in the oil company Delta, which last year was awarded a juicy $52m contract to supply 75% of all the fuel needs of the Panamanian State Motor fleet for 2015 and 16.
In a further sign of the degree of overlap of the state administration and Mr Motta's business interests, President Varela named journalist Castalia Pascual, a TVN news anchor, as one of his two official spokespersons at the communication office of the presidency. Having been fiercely critical of the Martinelli administration, there were no prizes for guessing whether TV channel TVN would now turn into a cheerleader for the Varela government. Inevitably, it did. In June 2014, TVN named lawyer Temistocles de Obaldía as VP for Information Affairs, further strengthening the channel’s overtly pro-government stance, and consequently its anti-Martinelli leanings.
Only 1 1/2 years into her government's post, Ms Castalia Pascual returned to TVN, her critical faculties dulled, allegedly as a result of strong disagreements with the head of communication at the presidency, Manuel Dominguez.
Mr Motta allegedly also relies on another former executive of his defunct bank, Banco Continental: Francisco “Pancho” Salerno. Mr Salerno is said to be the go-between that Mr Motta uses to coordinate moves with President Varela and currently works in Bahia Motors, the Honda Motors distributor in Panama. Mr Motta is also the principal shareholder of Carrix, the company that wishes to obtain the concession to build the new port at Corozal - something which is known to have ruffled a few feathers at the ACP.
Pedro “Peter” Vallarino Trombetta was President Varela’s roommate while at university in the USA. Since then, Mr Vallarino has been part of the president’s close entourage. Initially named as a board member of the country's savings bank (Caja de Ahorros), Mr Vallarino didn't take long to resign so that he could focus on the more profitable business of providing services to the state.
Mr Vallarino has since been promoting the interests of its own businesses while also acting on behalf of others, such as Empresa Meco of Costa Rica and Constructora Rodsa of Chitre.
Mr Vallarino’s intercession with the president made it possible that Meco could again do business with the public works ministry, something it had been barred from doing due to its relation to the previous administration of Ricardo Martinelli. This is how Meco came to be a sponsor of the presidential programme “ My School First” (Mi Escuela Primero). In the last two months alone, Meco was the beneficiary of multiple contracts with the state: a $96.9m contract to refurbish the Corredor de Los Pobres highway; $12m for the improvement of one of Tocumen Airport landing strips; and yet another for road works in the electoral district of the president’s brother, José Luis “Popi” Varela.
Meanwhile, Rodsa has also benefited from juicy state contracts, amongst them one worth $4m with Tocumen Airport.
Aside from interceding on behalf of other businesses, “Peter” Vallarino has been very busy promoting his own business interests, to the point of becoming known as “Peter PAN” or the “King of PAN”, in reference to Panama’s Programme of Social Support (PAN). Indeed, according to a PAN official report, one other main beneficiaries of directly awarded contracts with this institution is a company called Airco S.A., whose president and general manager is none less than Pedro “Peter” Vallarino.
Only in 2015, the PAN directly awarded 20 contracts for the provision of heavy equipment and construction material to Airco S.A., all intended for the social programme “Roofs of Hope” (Techos de Esperanza), a housebuilding initiative for the needy managed by the housing ministry.
Between October and December 214, housing minister Mario Etchelecu also awarded some 11 contracts worth $1.8m to Airco S.A. via the direct PAN route, according to official sources. Only on December 9th, the housing ministry awarded Airco SA with 5 separate contracts for the provision of digging equipment: one of them was worth $217,000 and the others $147,000 each.
Such questionable dealings have caused an uproar among competing firms. Last year, building equipment providers Cardoze & Lindo, Copama, F. Icaza, Grupo Tiesa and Comerciales de Motores jointly wrote to the housing minister to complain about the apparent favouritism granted to “Peter” Vallarinos’ Airco S.A. However, minister Etchelecu dismissed the complaint on account of the fact that the letter had not been signed. The public ministry did launch an investigation ex oficio into the matter. However, the file has been sitting in the office of Atty. General Kenia Porcell ever since.
The scandal brought to light another interesting fact: it became apparent that Peter Vallarino had named Ricardo "Ricky" Mouynes Kisswetter, son in law of the minister to the presidency, Alvaro Aleman, general manager of Airco S.A. Additionally, Ricardo “Ricky” Mouynes Kisswetter is a brother to Luis Mouynes, general manager of TV station TVN Canal 2. The Mouynes brothers have a longstanding relationship with businessman Stanley Motta, since their own father, Osvaldo Mouynes, was general manager of now-defunct Banco Continental, which later merged with Banco General.
Today, Airco S.A. promotes itself as a leading provider of construction equipment: its ads can be seen both on television and on massive billboards. And yet this is not all: the company has transcended both the PAN and the housing ministry, by obtaining multimillion-dollar contracts for the provision of synthetic pitches from the education ministry, thanks to the presidency-controlled programme "My School First".
Francisco Sierra also represents the business interests of “The Master” of President Varela, as businessman Stanley Motta is known. At first, Mr Sierra worked on the development of the government's programme for Juan Carlos Varela. Back then, his influence over the president was quite limited. However, he was later appointed as a ministerial adviser to the president, and that’s when things began to change. Mr Sierra, alongside his colleague Taher Yaffar, slowly became part of the President's close entourage, displacing other political collaborators there had been by the president's side for longer. It was Mr Sierra who directly handled the government purchase of the shares in company Mi Bus, a move that was strongly criticized as contrary to the interests of the state. Mr Sierra has strong links with the interests of Mr Motta, being as he is VP of Finance at that Banco General, as well as being a board member of Cable Onda.
Mr Sierra was recently appointed to the board of the Panama Canal by President Varela. The decision was strongly criticized due to the known bonds of friendship between the two men.
Miguel Angel Esbri
Miguel Angel Esbri is arguably the most silent of the members of President Varela's close entourage. However, he is by no means the least influential. The connection between President Varela and Mr Esbri is not strictly businesslike in nature. It is, in fact, of a more religious nature: both men are members of the ultraconservative catholic order of Opus Dei in Panama.
Opus Dei is a very powerful, if the low profile, an organization within the Catholic Church. The group has been at the receiving end of a barrage of criticism for supposedly conducting acts of aggressive proselytism amongst vulnerable teenagers, some of whom have suffered psychological traumas. The group is also known for his thirst for power and financial riches, as well as for threatening any members wishing to abandon the organization.
Mr Esbri, who has been nationalized Panamanian, is one of the top figures in Opus Dei’s local chapter. He is also the single most influential person with President Varela on religious matters. President Varela and Mr Esbri are the principal sponsors of an Opus Dei school in Cerro Azul.
Mr Esbri was appointed as Executive Secretary to the Centre for Economic and Competitive Affairs, receiving a salary of $6000. Internal sources claim that Mr Esbri unofficially controls all contracts awarded by Pandeporte, amongst other institutions.
During President Varela’s first official visit to the Vatican in 2014, Mr Esbri was one of the selected few who were granted a private audience with Pope Francis. Members of the group only included first lady Lorena Castillo, her two sons, Adrian Jose y Stefan Gabriel, the vice-chancellor Luis Miguel Hincapie and Mr Esbri himself.
Corruption Still Prevails
Stanley Motta, president of the International Motta Group was the largest donor to the campaign of President Juan Carlos Varela today.
Collaboration tycoon in panameñista campaign has been criticized and trotted out whenever any company in the Motta International Group or any member of this family any government project bid or win.
So far the government, several companies related to Grupo Motta entrepreneur or family have done business with the current administration.
For example, Global Brands sold bottled water National Program helps when the river water Villa was no longer drinking by high levels of atrazine.
Another case is the payment of $ 49 million to the company Mibus for purchasing the Metrobus system. One of the company’s shareholders was Felgate My Bus Enterprises, chaired by William Henne Motta.
Recently, the company Gas Natural Atlantic-a partnership between AES and the Group Motta- a tender for the supply of energy is won.
CHIEF IN COMMON
Another element that generates distrust is the link of some officials of the current administration with Stanley Motta.
There are several members of the government that at some point in his career worked for the Motta Group or are relatives or associates of members of this family.
Dulcidio De La Guardia, Minister of Economy and Finance, was vice president of the defunct Banco Continental, owned by the Motta.
Ciudad de Panamá, 27 de abril de 2017
Televisora Nacional (TVN-2)
Por medio de la presente, nos dirigimos a ustedes con el propósito de solicitar, respetuosamente, se nos informe acerca de la propiedad o la titularidad de los derechos de la serie “Lo Desconocido”, particularmente sobre el capítulo “Terror en Darién”, el cual ha sido transmitida a través de TVN-2 y que también se encuentra en el canal oficial de Youtube de TVN Panamá desde el 13 de junio de 2016.
Esta solicitud la hacemos en beneficio del Señor Nicholas Tuffney, alrededor de quien se creó el capítulo de la mencionada serie, en la cual se le dejó visto como criminal.
Al Señor Nicholas Tuffney, ciudadano Británico, le fue iniciada una investigación, fue recluido en un centro penitenciario en el cual fue objeto de tratos inhumanos por parte de las autoridades carcelarias, situación que actualmente fue denunciada ante el Ministerio Público como violación a derechos humanos por torturas y tratos inhumanos y la cual se elevará a demanda contra el Estado Panameño.
Al finalizar la investigación en contra del Señor Nicholas Tuffney por delito contra la libertad e integridad sexual el Juez de Circuito, Ramo Penal, de Darién resolvió absolverlo de todos los cargos mediante Sentencia No. 34 desde el 21 de agosto de 2014.
El Señor Nicholas Tuffney se ha visto humillado por la transmisión de del capítulo de esta serie frente a familiares, amigos y conocidos, especialmente porque recién se entera de la existencia del mismo, toda vez que luego de que fuera sobreseído de los cargos penales, regresó a Reino Unido, en donde reside actualmente.
Agradecemos responder a ésta misiva al término de la distancia y adicionalmente solicitamos una cita con quien a bien puedan disponer.
Del Despacho legal,
Dr. Boris Barrios González
Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press. Some journalists complained of harassment, intimidation, and threats when covering stories of impropriety, corruption, or other crimes involving members of the Ministry of Public Security or members of the public security forces.
Press and Media Freedoms: There were reports that the government discouraged journalists from writing stories critical of the administration. According to the Journalists’ Union of Panama, as of September, the National College of Journalists received 20 complaints of government pressure against media critics.
During the year the Thirteenth Civil Court ordered daily La Prensa to pay brothers David and Daniel Orchy 600,000 balboas ($600,000) for a case on the grounds of “moral damages.” A La Prensa publication had reported the Ministry of Public Works favoured the Ochys’ construction company, TRANSCRIBE Trading, with projects worth millions of dollars.
During the year media outlets controlled by political and business leaders facing legal proceedings claimed those proceedings limited their freedoms of expression. The media outlets continued to publish and broadcast freely throughout the year.
Violence and Harassment: In March journalist Ana Sierra from the Metro Libre daily claimed that the security chief of a local hospital intimidated her and forced her to delete photos she had taken of patients she interviewed despite the fact that she had the patients’ permission to take the photographs.