Panama's Supreme Court says that resolving lawsuits related to the mining contract is its 'number one priority. - Expat Community

Panama’s Supreme Court says that resolving lawsuits related to the mining contract is its ‘number one priority.

Nov 3, 2023 | News & Articles, Panama | 0 comments

The Supreme Court of Panama stated that resolving the admitted lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Law 406, the basis for the renewal of a copper mining contract between the Panamanian state and the company Minera Panama (owned by Canadian company First Quantum Minerals), is their “number one priority.” This contract has been a cause of protests since October 23.


Various organized groups and civilians reject the contract, citing concerns about environmental and biodiversity risks. They are calling for the law’s repeal and a swift decision from the Supreme Court. The court reported that eight individual lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law have been admitted as of Tuesday.


In a video shared with the media, Manuel José Calvo, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court of Panama, explained that although these lawsuits are a top priority, there is no expedited process available. Any such attempt would constitute a serious violation of the law. He emphasized the importance of respecting legal procedures and timelines and highlighted that circumventing these processes would breach constitutional regulations governing the resolution of cases.


Procurators Share Their Opinions on Lawsuits:

As of noon on Wednesday, Panama’s two procurators, Javier Caraballo, the Attorney General, and Rigoberto González, the Attorney of Administration, have submitted their opinions on the constitutionality lawsuits against the mining contract to the Supreme Court. These opinions were provided in response to the court’s request and are part of the judicial process. Since this is a legal matter, their opinions cannot be publicly disclosed.


According to the procedure, the court must issue a notice within three days, and then a 10-day working period begins for plaintiffs and interested parties to submit their written arguments. The court will subsequently review and deliver its verdict.


Proposed Bills to Address Protests:

While the constitutionality lawsuits proceed, the National Assembly is expected to discuss two bills in a second debate on Wednesday. These bills were submitted by the Executive branch on Monday and were approved in the first debate on Tuesday.


One of the bills is for the purpose of holding a public consultation on December 17 to decide whether to repeal the mining contract law. The other bill originally aimed to ban metallic mining in the country, but lawmakers from the ruling party included an article seeking an immediate repeal of the controversial contract.


If both or either of these bills is approved in the second and third debates, the latter of which is scheduled for Thursday, it will be up to Panama’s President, Laurentino Cortizo, to sanction and publish them in the Official Gazette, making them laws of the country.


In response to these events, Canadian company First Quantum Minerals stated in a release on Tuesday that they are aware of the developments, maintain communication with the Panamanian government, and reiterated their intention to fulfill their contractual commitments.



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