The president, judges of the Supreme Court and deputies will continue to have legal procedures shielding them during criminal proceedings according to the shield law approved yesterday on third debate by the National Assembly.
The law does extend the time limit for conducting these investigations from two to four months. The law also establishes that precautionary measures in proceedings against deputies and judges can be applied only with the prior consent from the plenary of the National Assembly and the Supreme Court.
With regard to this last prerogative, National Bar Association President José Alberto Álvarez warned that these cases might become political, rather than ones based on the rule of law.
"It will be almost impossible to investigate a judge," he said.
Former Supreme Court Justice Esmeralda de Troitiño said that the law will make criminal investigations of politicians and judges "somewhat illusory."
Meanwhile, Carlos Lee, of the Citizen's Alliance for Justice, said the law allows those who qualify to be investigated more quickly.
Panameñista Deputy Luis Eduardo Quirós defended the project.
"The modifications are not perfect, but the issue has advanced," said the deputy.