26 de Nov de 2021


When the law wants YOU to play cop

PANAMA. Beware the idiosyncrasies of seeking justice in Panama, unless you have yearned to be a cop or a detective.

PANAMA. Beware the idiosyncrasies of seeking justice in Panama, unless you have yearned to be a cop or a detective.

Two cases that have spotlighted the bureaucratic nightmare when you have been wronged follow, and the battle continues.

Case number one in involves a driver traveling the wrong way down a one way street who struck a car exiting an apartment building. A security guard witness called the traffic police and the apartment dweller called his insurance company. Before either arrived the other driver took off.

Seems pretty straight forward, at least three offences that in some jurisdictions would have earned some pretty stiff fines, maybe even a license suspension. That is of course if he has a license.

Then began a long saga. With the errant driver missing the transport police decided not to come. A trip to a police station and then to a transport police office in Curundu followed.

A report was compiled and sent to a traffic Judge’s office in Pedregal where, three weeks later, the judge gave the complainant a piece of paper to take to City Hall to pay $5 and check the ownership. The vehicle was not registered in Panama City, so another trip to the vehicle registration office and the payment of another $10, to determine that the missing driver lived in Arraijan.

Back to Pedregal to a judge assigned to the case. Then to the Transit Police to set a date and time for the hearing.

Back to the judge, and another slip of paper, to be delivered by the complainant to the home of the offending driver in Arraijan.

The complainant has first to go to a police station and collect a policeman while he delivers the note from the judge, attempting to get him to show up in court.

Then followed a series of phone calls to the wife of the driver who said “he was very busy” and would call back.

There it stands, the driver who ran away flouting the law, the other party, a medical professional, having to play cop, wasting valuable hours, gas and payments for documents , and repairs to the car with no guarantee the malefactor will ever show up. The lesson seems to be, if you want to drive the wrong way down a street, and hit a car. Skip. The police are not going to chase you.

Case number two involves a woman who had the temerity to complain to the management of her apartment building about someone parking illegally.

The man concerned stormed up to her apartment, kicked and dented the door, and forced his way in screaming abuse.

When she went to file a report, she was given a form and told to deliver it to the door kicker for his signature and an agreement to meet in court.

First she had to go to a police station to request the presence of an officer. When they arrived at the apartment of the man, he refused to sign and claimed he was a lawyer.

Question. If he had physically attacked the woman, would she have had to deliver a notice to him? Meanwhile she sees him regularly in the apartment elevator.

Hardly a comforting experience. If anyone in the justice department would like further details I would be happy to forward them.