Half Way There: The Accusatory System in Panama

In the last couple years Panama has begun a nationwide shift to the Accusatory System of Justice. While part of the country remains under the old written Inquisitorial System, the change has been imposed in two judicial districts of Panama. The adoption of the Accusatory System has been in an effort to reduce overcrowding in prisons and reduce a backlog in the courts. According to www.unhcr.org,  66% of prisoners are pre-trial detainees.  Under the Inquisitorial System many of those imprisoned will wait over a year before a pre trial judge hearing.   

So far the accusatory system has been adopted in the 2nd judicial district of Coclé & Veraguas and the 4th judicial district of Herrera & Los Santos. The 3rd judicial district of Chiriqui & Bocas, is set to make the change this year (2013). Finally in 2014, the 1st judicial district of Panama, Colón, Darién & Guna Yala will complete imposition of the Accusatory System.

The Accusatory System in Panama is being implemented in 4 waves in an effort to obtain results in districts with lower crime. Once these results are observed and measured, officials will be better able to tackle areas with higher crime rates.  

The Accusatory system works to prevent detention without conviction - unless a perpetrator is caught in the act, an investigation must occur before they are convicted of that crime. The new system has increased efficiency in the Panamanian justice system by 70%, according to official figures (infosurhoy).