CPJ demands release of Panamanian journalist

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Carlos Núñez Lopez

The Committee to Protect Journalists demands that Panamanian journalist Carlos Núñez López be released immediately by the Panamanian authorities, saying that "the verdict should be voided, Núñez should be released, and Panama’s legislature must eliminate all criminal penalties for defamation.”

Núñez was arrested in a Panamanian internet café when the police checked ID's of all customers against their electronic database using the controversial "Pele Police" gadget. Instead of investigating, searching and arresting suspects and convicts, the authorities in Panama are checking half the population using third world dictatorship-style road blocks and raids on businesses and other establishments.

Núñez, who is 70 years old, was convicted for criminal defamation, without ever having been notified of the existence of such a case against him, let alone given an opportunity to defend himself. Yes, dear reader, in today's Panama you can be thrown in jail as a result of a secret trial.

The case originated from an article he wrote for now defunct La Cronica, a yellow-press sleaze rag formerly owned and operated by one Ecolastico "Fulele" Calvo, which specialized in publishing smear on behalf of paying clients. As such, it had some limited folkloric value in Panama but nobody took its content seriously.

Núñez also reportedly worked for La Critica, the tabloid that keeps El Panama America financially afloat and that's also known for publishing paid-for smear.

Yet, the articles that landed Núñez in trouble denounced contamination of a river in Chiriqui. With daily protests against Martinelli's anti-environment laws and his curtailing of human rights and freedoms, this affair is an eerie preview of what awaits those journalists who dare to expose contamination of Panama's environment.

6 thoughts on “CPJ demands release of Panamanian journalist

  1. But in Panama you can’t go to jail if you are 70 years old. Who did he write about and was this a recent article or an old one?

  2. Guacho,

    In Panama the law doesn´t really count. We have a pseudo-legal system that no one in authority takes seriously. This incarceration is a perfect example. The most straightforward laws are broken with absolute impunity. But the worst is that no one in the system seems to have any humanity. They will throw someone in jail who they know did nothing. We live in a truly frightening country.

  3. The more I think about this case, the angrier I get. This journalist is someone who spent time in exile for his political convictions, and then finally you think you live in a democracy and the brownshirts throw you in jail for something you didn’t do and have not been informed about. There are people who defend this by saying that the police “just followed orders” but first of all the police doesn’t decide if he stays in jail and second, where have I heard this “we just followed orders” before?

    This is a government of fascists. The question is not IF they will organize their own Kristallnacht, but when.

  4. LAW, what stinking LAW!

    We do not need no stinking LAW in Panama!

    Panama where the corrupted and the Money Launderers have the rule of LAW!

  5. “All Democratic, and so called Totalitarian States and All lessor Countries use the originality of LAW to secure the power over the proletarians and the misfortunate.

    They never abandoned their Cloak of LEGALITY! They always turn their LAWS inside out to make the ILLEGALITY of LAWS LEGAL!”

    A quote I have held as truth!

    I have rewriting this quote to fit the times we live in!!!

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