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Table of Contents

  1. Preamble
  2. TITLE I. THE PANAMANIAN STATE
  3. TITLE II. CITIZENSHIP AND STATUS OF FOREIGNERS
  4. TITLE III. INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES
  5. CHAPTER 1. FUNDAMENTAL GUARANTEES
  6. CHAPTER 2. THE FAMILY
  7. CHAPTER 3. WORK
  8. CHAPTER 4. NATIONAL CULTURE
  9. CHAPTER 5. EDUCATION
  10. CHAPTER 6. HEALTH, SOCIAL SECURITY AND SOCIAL WELFARE
  11. CHAPTER 7. THE ECOLOGY
  12. CHAPTER 8. AGRARIAN SYSTEM
  13. CHAPTER 9. OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN (DEFENSORÍA DEL PUEBLO
  14. TITLE IV. POLITICAL RIGHTS
  15. CHAPTER 1. CITIZENSHIP
  16. CHAPTER 2. SUFFRAGE
  17. CHAPTER 3. THE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL
  18. TITLE V. THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
  19. CHAPTER 1. THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
  20. CHAPTER 2. FORMATION OF LAWS
  21. TITLE VI. THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH
  22. CHAPTER 1. THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENTS OF THE REPUBLIC
  23. CHAPTER 2. THE MINISTERS OF STATE
  24. CHAPTER 3. THE CABINET COUNCIL
  25. CHAPTER 4. THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF STATE
  26. TITLE VII. THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
  27. CHAPTER 1. THE JUDICIAL BRANCH
  28. CHAPTER 2. THE PUBLIC MINISTRY
  29. TITLE VIII. MUNICIPAL AND PROVINCIAL SYSTEMS
  30. CHAPTER 1. BOROUGH REPRESENTATIVES
  31. CHAPTER 2. THE MUNICIPAL SYSTEM
  32. CHAPTER 3. THE PROVINCIAL SYSTEM
  33. TITLE IX. PUBLIC FINANCES
  34. CHAPTER 1. PROPERTIES AND RIGHTS OF THE STATE
  35. CHAPTER 2. THE GENERAL BUDGET OF THE STATE
  36. CHAPTER 3. GENERAL COMPTROLLERSHIP OF THE REPUBLIC
  37. CHAPTER 4. AUDIT TRIBUNAL (TRIBUNAL DE CUENTAS
  38. TITLE X. NATIONAL ECONOMY
  39. TITLE XI. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
  40. CHAPTER 1. FUNDAMENTAL PROVISIONS
  41. CHAPTER 2. BASIC PRINCIPLES OF PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION
  42. CHAPTER 3. ORGANIZATION OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT
  43. CHAPTER 4. GENERAL PROVISIONS
  44. TITLE XII. SECURITY FORCES (Fuerza Pública
  45. TITLE XIII. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT
  46. TITLE XIV. THE PANAMA CANAL
  47. TITLE XV. FINAL AND TRANSITORY PROVISIONS
  48. CHAPTER 1. FINAL PROVISIONS
  49. CHAPTER 2. TRANSITORY PROVISIONS

Constitution of Panama (1972, rev. 2004)

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2


3Preamble

4With the ultimate purpose to strengthen the Nation; to guarantee the freedom, ensure democracy and institutional stability, exalt human dignity, promote social justice, general welfare, regional integration and invoking the protection of God, we decree the Political Constitution of the Republic of Panama.

5TITLE I. THE PANAMANIAN STATE

6ARTICLE 1

7The Panamanian Nation is organized as a sovereign and independent State, and its name is the Republic of Panama. Its Government is unitary, republican, democratic and Representative.

8ARTICLE 2

9Public power emanates solely from the people. It is exercised by the State, in conformity with this Constitution, through Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of Government, which act within limits and separately, but in harmonious cooperation.

10ARTICLE 3

11The territory of the Republic of Panama comprises the land surface, the territorial sea, the undersea continental shelf, the subsoil and the air space between Colombia and Costa Rica, in accordance with the boundary treaties concluded by Panama with those States.

12National territory can never be ceded, assigned, or transferred, neither temporarily no partially, to another State.

13ARTICLE 4

14The Republic of panama abides by the rules of International Law.

15ARTICLE 5

16The territory of the Panamanian State is divided politically into Provinces, these, in turn, into Districts and the Districts into Boroughs.

17Other political divisions may be created by law, either to be subject to special rules, or for reasons of administrative convenience or public service.

18ARTICLE 6

19The symbols of the Republic are the anthem, the flag, and the coat of arms adopted by Law No. 34 of 1949.

20ARTICLE 7

21Spanish is the official language of the Republic.

22TITLE II. CITIZENSHIP AND STATUS OF FOREIGNERS

23ARTICLE 8

24Panamanian citizenship is acquired by birth, by naturalization or by Constitutional provision.

25ARTICLE 9

26The following are Panamanian by birth:

271.Those born in the National territory;

282.The offspring of parents who are Panamanian by birth, born outside the territory of the Republic, provided they establish their domicile in the National territory;

293.The offspring of parents who are Panamanian by naturalization, born outside the territory of the Republic, provided they establish their domicile in the Republic of Panama and state their desire to elect Panamanian citizenship, not later than one year after reaching legal age.

30ARTICLE 10

31The following may request Panamanian citizenship by naturalization:

321.Aliens with five years of continuous residence within the territory of the Republic, if, after having reached legal age, they declare their intention to become naturalized, expressly renounce their citizenship of origin or any other citizenship, and establish that they have a command of the Spanish language and an elementary knowledge of Panamanian geography, history and political organization;

332.Aliens with three years of continuous residence within the territory of the Republic, who have children born on the national territory of Panamanian father or mother, or who have a spouse of Panamanian citizenship, provided they make the statement and submit the evidence to which the preceding section refers;

343.Those nationals by birth, of Spain or any Latin American nation provided they fulfill the same requirements necessary in their country of origin for the naturalization of Panamanians.

35ARTICLE 11

36Persons born abroad who before their seventh birthday were adopted by Panamanian nationals are Panamanians by virtue of the Constitution without need of a naturalization certificate. In this case nationality is acquired from the moment when the adoption is entered into the Panamanian Civil Register.

37ARTICLE 12

38Regulations concerning naturalization shall be established by law. The State may refuse the request for a naturalization certificate for reasons of morality, security, health, and physical or mental impairment.

39ARTICLE 13

40Panamanian nationality by origin or acquired by birth can not be lost, but express or implied renunciation of it, suspends citizenship.

41Panamanian nationality derived from or acquired by naturalization shall be lost for the same reasons. There is express renunciation when the person states in writing to the Executive Authority that he/she desires to abandon Panamanian citizenship; and implied renunciation when the person acquires the citizenship of a foreign state, or enters the service of an enemy State.

42ARTICLE 14

43Immigration shall be regulated by law, considering social, economic and demographic interests of the country.

44ARTICLE 15

45Both nationals and aliens who are within the territory of the Republic shall be subject to the Constitution and the Law.

46ARTICLE 16

47Panamanians by naturalization shall not be obliged to take up arms against the country of their birth.

48TITLE III. INDIVIDUAL AND SOCIAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES

49CHAPTER 1. FUNDAMENTAL GUARANTEES

50ARTICLE 17

51The authorities of the Republic are established for the purpose of protecting the lives, honor and property of all nationals, wherever they may be, and of aliens who are under the Republic's jurisdiction, of ensuring the effectiveness of individual and social rights and duties, and of observing and enforcing the Constitution and the Law.

52The rights and guarantees recognized by this Constitution must be considered as minimum standards which do not exclude others which are related to fundamental rights and the dignity of the individual.

53ARTICLE 18

54Private persons are solely responsible to the authorities for violation of the Constitution or the Law. Public Officers are responsible, for the same reasons, and also for exceeding their authority, or for dereliction in the performance of their duties.

55ARTICLE 19

56There shall be no public or private privileges, or discrimination, by reason of race, birth, social class, handicap, sex, religion or political ideology.

57ARTICLE 20

58All Panamanians and aliens are equal before the Law, but the Law, for reasons of labor, health, morality, public security and national economy, may subject to special conditions, or may deny the exercise of specific activities to aliens in general. Likewise, the Law or the Authorities may, according to circumstances, take measures that exclusively affect nationals of certain countries, in case of war, or in accordance with what may be established in international treaties.

59ARTICLE 21

60No one may be deprived of his/her liberty except by warrant from a competent authority, issued in accordance with legal formalities, and for reasons previously defined by law. Those executing said order are obliged to give a copy thereof to the person concerned, if he/she requests it.

61An offender surprised in the act of committing a crime (flagrante delicto) may be apprehended by any person and must be turned over immediately to the authorities.

62No one may be detained for more than twenty-four hours without being brought before a competent authority. Public Officers who violate this precept shall suffer immediate loss of employment and shall be subject to all other penalties established by law, concerning this violation.

63There shall not be imprisonment, detention or arrest for debts or strictly civil obligations.

64ARTICLE 22

65All persons placed under arrest must be informed immediately, and in an understandable manner, of the reasons for their arrest, and of their Constitutional and corresponding legal rights.

66Persons accused of committing a crime have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, at a public trial, under due process of law. Whoever is arrested shall have the right, from that moment, to legal counsel in all police and judiciary proceedings.

67This matter shall be regulated by law.

68ARTICLE 23

69Every individual arrested for reasons not specified or without the legal formalities prescribed by this Constitution or by law, shall be released upon his/her or another person's petition through the writ of habeas corpus which can be submitted immediately after the arrest, regardless of the applicable penalty.

70The writ shall be processed with preference over other cases pending, through a summary proceeding, which will not be delayed even the writ is submitted after working hours or on holidays.

71The writ of habeas corpus may also be submitted if a real or actual threat to liberty exists or if the form or the conditions of the arrest or the place where the arrested person is being detained put his/her physical, mental or moral integrity at risk or infringe his/her right of defense.

72ARTICLE 24

73The State may not extradite its nationals, nor may it extradite aliens, for political offenses.

74ARTICLE 25

75No person is obliged to testify against himself, his/her spouse, relatives to the fourth degree of consanguinity or second degree of marital relations in criminal, correctional or police proceedings.

76ARTICLE 26

77The domicile, or residence, is inviolable. No one may enter therein without the consent of the owner, except by warrant of a competent authority and for a specific purpose, or to assist the victims of a crime or disaster.

78Labor, social security and health officials, upon presentation of valid identification, may make domiciliary visits, or inspections of work centers, to check on the fulfillment of social and public health laws.

79ARTICLE 27

80Every person may travel freely throughout the National territory and change domicile, or residence, without restrictions, other than those which the transit, fiscal, health, and immigration laws or regulations may prescribe.

81ARTICLE 28

82The penitentiary system is based on principles of security, rehabilitation and social defense. It is unlawful to apply measures which may damage the physical, mental, or moral integrity of incarcerated individuals.

83A program for training prisoners in an occupation shall be established, which should permit them to be usefully reintegrated into society.

84Prisoners who are minors shall be governed by a special system of custody, protection and education.

85ARTICLE 29

86Correspondence and other private documents are inviolable and shall not be searched or seized except by warrant of a competent authority, for specific purposes and in accordance with the legal formalities. In any case no notice shall be taken of matters alien to the object of the search or seizure.

87The registration of letters and other documents or papers shall always take place in the presence of the person concerned or of a member of his/her family, or, in their absence, of two honorable neighbors living near the place.

88All private communications are inviolable and may not be intercepted or recorded unless authorized by judicial warrant.

89The non-compliance with this provision precludes that the results [of the interception] are used as evidence, without prejudice to the criminal liability incurred by its authors.

90ARTICLE 30

91The death penalty, expatriation and confiscation of property are abolished.

92ARTICLE 31

93Only those acts shall be punished which have been declared punishable by a law that predates their perpetration and is exactly applicable to the act for which charges are brought.

94ARTICLE 32

95No one shall be tried except by a competent authority and in accordance with legal procedures, and not more than once for the same criminal, administrative, police or disciplinary cause.

96ARTICLE 33

97The following authorities may impose penalties without previous trial in the cases and under the conditions defined by law:

981.The heads of the security forces who may impose penalties on their subordinates in order to suppress insubordination, mutiny, or lack of discipline;

992.Captains of ships or aircraft outside the port or the airport are authorized to suppress insubordination or mutiny, or to maintain order on board, or to detain provisionally any actual or presumed offender.

100ARTICLE 34

101In case of manifest violation of a Constitutional or legal precept, to the detriment of any person, the order of a superior does not relieve from responsibility the agent who executed it. Exception is made of individuals of the Public Forces when they are in actual service, in which case the responsibility falls exclusively on the immediate superior who gave the order.

102ARTICLE 35

103All religions may be professed and all forms of worship practiced freely, without any other limitation than respect for Christian morality and public order. It is recognized that the Catholic religion is practiced by the majority of Panamanians.

104ARTICLE 36

105Religious organizations have juridical capacity and manage and administer their property within the limits prescribed by law, the same as other juridical persons.

106ARTICLE 37

107Every person may express his/her opinion freely, either orally, in writing or by any other means, without being subject to prior censorship. Legal responsibility (liability) will, however, be incurred when by any of these means, the reputation or honor of persons is assailed, or when social security or public order is attacked.

108ARTICLE 38

109All inhabitants of the Republic have the right to assemble peacefully, without arms, for lawful ends. Public demonstrations or gatherings in open air are not subject to permission. Only previous notification of the local Administrative Authorities, twenty four hours in advance, is required to hold such gatherings.

110Authorities may take Police action to prevent or restrain abuse of this right, when the form in which it is exercised causes, or may cause, traffic disturbances, breach of the peace, or violation of the rights of others.

111ARTICLE 39

112The formation of companies, associations, or foundations that are not contrary to morals or legal order, is permitted. These may obtain recognition as juridical persons. Recognition shall not be granted to associations whose ideologies are based on the supposed superiority of any race or ethnic group or which defend or promote racial discrimination. The capacity, recognition and regulation of these companies and other juridical persons shall be determined by Panamanian law.

113ARTICLE 40

114Every person is free to exercise any profession or trade, subject to regulations established by law with respect to competence, morality, social welfare and security, professional affiliation, public health, unionization, and compulsory dues.

115No taxes or assessments for the exercise of liberal professions, trades, and arts shall be established.

116ARTICLE 41

117Every person shall have the right to present respectful petitions and complaints to public officials for reasons of social or private interest, and to obtain a prompt decision.

118A public official to whom such a petition, inquiry or complaint is presented, must make a decision on it within thirty days.

119Penalties which apply to a violation of this provision shall be determined by law.

120ARTICLE 42

121Every person has a right of access to his/her personal information contained in data banks or public or private registries and to request their correction and protection, as well as their deletion in accordance with the provisions of the law.

122This information may only be collected for specific purposes, subject to the consent of the person in question or by order of a competent authority based on the provisions of the law.

123ARTICLE 43

124Every person has a right to ask for accessible information or information of general interest stored in data banks or registries administered by public servants or by private persons providing public services, unless access has been limited by written regulation or by legal mandate, and to request their lawful processing and correction.

125ARTICLE 44

126Every person may submit a writ of habeas data in order to enforce the right to access to his/her personal information stored in official or private data banks or registries, if in the latter case the data bank or registry is run by a business which provides a service to the public or deals with information.

127The writ may also be brought in the same manner in order to enforce the right of access to public or freely accessible information, in conformity with the provisions of this Constitution.

128The writ of habeas data may be used to request the correction, updating, rectification, deletion or protection of confidentiality of information and data of a personal character.

129The law shall determine which tribunals are competent to decide on the applications for habeas data which are examined in a summary procedure without need of representation by counsel.

130ARTICLE 45

131Ministers of religious faiths and members of religious orders, aside from the performance of duties inherent to their missions, may hold public posts only when such are positions related to social welfare, public education, or scientific research.

132ARTICLE 46

133Laws have no retroactive effect, except those of public order or social interest when such is expressed. In criminal matters the law favorable to the accused always has preference and retroactivity, even though the judgment may have become final.

134ARTICLE 47

135Private property acquired by juridical or natural persons is guaranteed in accordance with the law.

136ARTICLE 48

137Private property implies obligations on the part of its owners because of the social function it must fulfill.

138For reasons of public utility or social interest defined by law, there may be expropriation through special proceeding and compensation.

139ARTICLE 49

140The State recognizes and guarantees the right of every person to obtain quality goods and services, truthful, clear and sufficient information about the characteristics and the substance of the goods and services which he/she purchases, as well as the freedom of choice and the right to conditions of fair and equitable treatment.

141The law shall establish the mechanisms necessary to guarantee these rights, the education and the means of defense of the consumer and user, the compensation of damages caused and the sanctions applicable to the violation of these rights.

142ARTICLE 50

143When the application of a law enacted for reasons of public benefit or social interest results in a conflict between private rights and the need recognized by the law itself, private interest must yield to the public or social interest.

144ARTICLE 51

145In case of war, grave disturbances of public order or urgent social interest requiring prompt action, the Executive Authority may decree the expropriation or seizure of private property.

146When return of the seized object is feasible, the seizure will be only for the duration of the circumstances that may cause it.

147The State is always responsible for all expropriations that the Executive Authority thus carries out, and for the losses and damage caused by the seizure, and will pay the value thereof as soon as the determining cause for the expropriation or seizure ends.

148ARTICLE 52

149No person is obliged to pay a tax or impost which has not been legally established and its manner of collection prescribed by law.

150ARTICLE 53

151Every author, artist or inventor enjoys the exclusive ownership of his/her work or invention during the time and in the manner prescribed by law.

152ARTICLE 54

153Every person against whom a Public Officer shall issue or execute a mandatory order or an injunction violating the rights and guarantees established by this Constitution, shall have the right of the order being revoked upon his/her petition or the petition of any other person.

154The writ for protection of constitutional guarantee (amparo de garantías constitucionales), to which this Article refers, shall be subject to summary proceedings and the Cognizance of Courts of Law.

155ARTICLE 55

156In case of foreign war or internal disturbance that threatens peace or public order, all, or a part, of the Republic may be declared in a State of Emergency, and the guarantees of Articles 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 29, 37, 38, and 44 of this Constitution, may be temporarily suspended, partially or totally.

157The State of Emergency and the suspension of Constitutional guarantees mentioned above shall be declared by the Executive Branch through a Decree, agreed upon in Cabinet Council. The Legislative Branch, in its own right, or at the request of the President of the Republic, shall take cognizance of the State of Emergency if it lasts longer than ten days, and confirm or revoke, totally or partially, the measures adopted by the Cabinet Council relative to said State of Emergency.

158When the conditions that had motivated the State of Emergency Decree cease to exist, the Legislative Branch, if it is in session, or, if not, the Cabinet Council, shall rescind the Decree and end the State of Emergency.

159CHAPTER 2. THE FAMILY

160ARTICLE 56

161The State protects marriage, motherhood and the family. What is relative to civil status shall be determined by law.

162The State shall protect the physical, mental and moral health of minors and shall guarantee their rights to support, health, education and social security. In an equal manner, the elderly and the sick who are destitute shall have the right to this protection.

163ARTICLE 57

164Marriage is the legal basis of the family. It rests on equality of rights of both spouses and may be dissolved in accordance with the provisions of the law.

165ARTICLE 58

166The de facto union of persons of different sex with the legal capacity to enter into marriage which is sustained for five consecutive years in conditions of single partnership and stability shall produce the full effects of a civil marriage.

167To this end, it shall be sufficient the interested parties jointly request the Civil Registrar to register the de facto union. As long as this request has not been made, the marriage may be proved, for the purpose of claiming the rights pertaining thereto, by any of the spouses concerned in accordance with the procedures established by law. However, the Public Ministry, in the interest of morals and of the law, or third persons who assert rights susceptible of being affected by the registration, may object to the registration or challenge it subsequently on the ground that the declaration is contrary to the facts.

168ARTICLE 59

169Parental authority (patria potestad) is the aggregate of rights and duties parents have in respect to their children.

170Parents are obliged to support, educate and protect their children to ensure their proper physical and spiritual upbringing and development, and the latter are obliged to respect and assist their parents.

171The exercise of parental authority shall be regulated by law in accordance with social interests and the welfare of the children.

172ARTICLE 60

173Parents have, with respect to their children born out of wedlock, the same duties as towards their children born in wedlock. All children are equal according to law, and have the same rights of inheritance in intestate successions. The rights of minors or incapacitated children and of destitute parents in testate successions, shall be recognized by law.

174ARTICLE 61

175Investigation of paternity shall be regulated by law. Classifications as to the nature of the relationship are abolished. There shall not be entered any statement establishing differences of birth, or, on the civil status of the parents, in the registration records, or in any attestation, baptismal or christening records, or certificate referring to the relationship.

176Authority is hereby granted to the father of a child born before the effective date of this Constitution to protect the child by the provisions of this Article, by means of rectifying any record or attestation in which any classification may have been established with respect to said child. The consent of the mother is not required but if the child is of legal age, he/she must give his/her consent thereto. In acts of acknowledgement of paternity, anyone who is legally affected by said act may oppose this measure.

177Procedures shall be established by law.

178ARTICLE 62

179The State shall protect the social and economic development of the family and shall organize the family homestead, determining the nature and amount of property that must constitute it, on the basis that it is inalienable and un-attachable.

180ARTICLE 63

181The State shall create an Entity for the protection of the family, for the purposes of:

1821.Promoting responsible parenthood through family educational programs;

1832.Establishing educational programs for pre-school age children, in specialized centers, which children may attend upon the request of their parents or guardians;

1843.Protecting minors, and the elderly, and accomplishing the social readjustment of those who are abandoned, helpless, morally misguided, or who have behavior maladjustment problems.

185The functioning of a special jurisdiction over minors, which among other duties, shall take cognizance of suits concerning the investigation of paternity, family desertion, and juvenile behavior problems, shall be organized and determined by law.

186CHAPTER 3. WORK

187ARTICLE 64

188Work is a right and duty of the individual and accordingly the State is obliged to devise economic policies to promote full employment, and to ensure to every workman the necessary conditions for a decent existence.

189ARTICLE 65

190Every workman in the service of the State, of public or private enterprises or private persons, is guaranteed a minimum wage or salary. Workers of enterprises specified by law shall share in the profits thereof in accordance with the economic conditions of the country.

191ARTICLE 66

192Rules of periodic adjustment of the minimum salary or wage of the worker shall be set by law, to cover the normal requirements of his/her family, to improve worker's standard of living according to specific conditions of each economic region and activity. The law may also determine the method of fixing minimum salaries or wages for professions or trades.

193Whenever job or piece work is performed, it is obligatory that the minimum wage be ensured for each day's work.

194The minimum of all wages or salaries is un-attachable, except for support obligations as established by law. Working tools of the workmen are also un-attachable.

195ARTICLE 67

196A like wage or salary shall always be paid for like work under identical conditions, irrespective of the person who performs it, without taking into account sex, nationality, age, race, social standing, political or religious ideologies.

197ARTICLE 68

198The right of association is acknowledged for employers, employees, workers and professionals of all classes, for purposes of economic and social activities.

199The Executive Authority shall have a non-extendable term of thirty days in which to grant or reject the registration of a union.

200Recognition by the Executive Authority of unions, whose legal status shall be determined by registration, shall be regulated by law.

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