Panama’s Bill no. 510, reforming the countries law on copyright and neighboring rights, was approved today by the Congress in third debate. Under the Panamanian system, the law will now be sent back to the executive branch for final passage. The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ricardo Quijano, expressed that “with the implementation of this new Act , our country [Panama] is being upgraded within the international and global context.” At the same time, Congressman Jose Blandon asked to make the Act public to avoid distrust within the population about this law, which gives new faculties to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MICI).
Is the Minister of Commerce right? Are the international standards implemented by this Act? This Act gives extraordinary power to the administrative organism in charge of the registration, storage, monitoring and inspection of copyright, allowing it to impose fines on infringers, violating the general principles of law as “ non bis in idem” and “presumption of innocence”. Can impartiality and justice lead a process of imposing fines, when the beneficiaries of the fines are the functionaries of the organism itself? ( see: http://infojustice.org/archives/27344)
However, Congressman Jose Blandon asked to make the Act public to avoid distrust over the population. It would be nicer if the bill had been published before its implementation, in order to allow Panamanian to participate in the writing of the bill. Nevertheless this was not the situation, the bill was unknown by Panamanian and there was no space for public debate over the topic. (see: http://sectorurbano.net/prensa/nacionales/2399-pleno-aprueba-en-iii-debate-proyecto-de-ley-510-sobre-derecho-de-autor-y-derechos-conexos)