Judicial audits are necessary
PANAMA. The Fourth Tribunal has the power to order judicial audits and suspend judges suspected of committing irregularities and it is ...
PANAMA. The Fourth Tribunal has the power to order judicial audits and suspend judges suspected of committing irregularities and it is just complying with its function, says the president of the the Supreme Court of Justice, Harley Mitchell.
Talking about the judges: Rubén Royo, Felipe Fuentes, Ricardo Mazza and Xiomara Bulgin Wilson, who were suspended by the the Fourth Tribunal on May 14, Mitchell said that they have the right to go to international tribunals if they want to present their cases before that forum, but the audits were made according to the law.
“The audits are ordered to find out how well the system is working and I am proud because after 60 audits, 32 of which were made last year and 28 in 2009 only eight irregular cases were found”
“Unfortunately we did find eight difficult cases, of those eight, four were critical and the judges involved were suspended,” said Mitchell.
The image of the Panama’s judicial system is bad abroad, with accusations of corruption among the judges. “The audits allow us to identify those people who are abusing the system and we are proceeding according to the law, because the justice system must be transparent.”
“Citizens should have the guarantee that when they go to a tribunal to receive justice, the process will be transparent and impartial,” said Mitchell.
The president judge added that none of the suspended judges have been removed from their offices. The suspensions are just a cautionary measure to protect citizens until the matters have been investigated thoroughly.
“There are close to 200 denouncements against court employees in the system since 1995, waiting to be resolved and we need to move them forward. The Fourth Tribunal has not fired the judges, it just suspended them,” reiterated Mitchell. Once the process is completed the Supreme Court will decide what to do with the four judges.
“We know that there is corruption among our judges, but we are fighting it and foreigners living in Panama can begin to trust the judicial system,” said Mitchell.
“We even have a complaint box in each province. In the last 14 months I have received over 4,000 letters, 2,000 of which were denouncements against the courts and we are dealing with them,” said Mitchell