Panama Accusatory Penal System Criminal Defense.
On 30 May 2011 Law 56, regulating the private security services in Panama, was issued. It will become effective from May 2012, leaving without effects the Executive Decrees 21 and 22 of 1992, which had not been changed since.
This law considers the private detective and private investigator service as part of the private security services and for this reason private detectives must be licensed by the DIASP (Institutional Directorate for Public Security Affairs), organization that is part of the Ministry of Security.
With the entry into force of this law, private security companies may offer private detective services, but they have to annually report the list of clients and the nature of the investigations undertaken to the DIASP.
Our concern today is that, within the current legislation, private detectives will have specific functions, although not limited to, such as “obtain and produce information and evidence on private conducts and facts; and investigate only crimes that can be reported by the legitimate parties in the trial” and will be obliged to report what so ever crime they get aware of,
Having said that, where is the right to a fair process, the balance between the prosecutor and the defence within the accusatory penal system, in which the defendant must provide his own evidence and counter-evidence?
Law 56 violates the right to a defence because to defendant cannot hire a private investigator with the aim of finding evidence in his/her favour. The private detectives cannot investigate those prosecutable crimes where the prosecutor’s office is obliged to investigate, e.g. murder or fraud; the DIASP can visit the detective’s office, search and find information which they may pass on to the prosecutor; if the client tells the facts to the hired private investigator and among them we have a crime, the private detective must report the crime to the authorities, thus violating the professional secret which is a key feature of the relationship between the defendant and his defence.
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