Mr. Russell to Mr. Hay.

No. 56.]

Sir: I have the honor to report that the new constitution of the Republic of Panama was promulgated this afternoon, and the election for president took place, the result of which is as follows: President, Dr. Manuel Amador Guerrero; first vice-president, Dr. Pablo Arosemena; second vice-president, Don Domingo de Obaldía; third vice-president, Dr. Carlos Mendoza.

I am, etc.,

William W. Russell.

Constitution of the Republic of Panama.


We, the representatives of the people of Panama, assembled in national convention for the purpose of constituting the nation, maintaining order, guaranteeing justice, promoting the general welfare, and securing the benefits of liberty for ourselves, our posterity, and all men who may inhabit Panama soil, invoking the protection of God, do ordain, decree, and establish for the Panama nation the following constitution:


the nation and the territory.

Article 1.

The Panaman people hereby constitute themselves an independent and sovereign nation, ruled by a republican and democratic government, under the denomination of the Republic of Panama.

Article 2.

The sovereignty resides in the nation, which shall exercise it through its representatives in the manner established by this constitution and under the conditions therein expressed.

Article 3.

The territory of the Republic is composed of all the territory from which the State of Panama was-formed by the amendment to the Granada constitution of 1853, on February 27, 1855, and which was transformed in 1886 into the Department of Panama, together with its islands, and of the continental and insular territory, which was adjudged to the Republic of Colombia in the award made by the President of the French Republic on September 11, 1900. The territory of the Republic remains subject to the jurisdictional limitations stipulated or which may be stipulated in public treaties concluded with the United States of North America for the construction, maintenance, or sanitation of any means of interoceanic transit.

The boundaries with the Republic of Colombia shall be determined by public treaties.

Article 4.

The territory of the Republic is divided into the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Coclé, Colón, Chiriquí, Los Santos, Panamá, and Veraguas. The provinces are divided into municipalities.

The National Assembly may increase or decrease the number of the former and of the latter or change their boundaries.

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Article 5.

The territory, together with the public property which forms a part of it, belongs to the nation.


nationality and citizenship.

Article 6.

The following are Panamans:

All those who were born or who may be born in the territory of Panama, whatever may be the nationality of their parents.
Children of Panaman mother or father who were born in another territory, provided they take up their domicile in the Republic and express their willingness to become Panamans.
Foreigners who, professing some science, art, or industry, or owning some real estate or capital in circulation, declare, before the municipal government of the territory in which they reside, their intention of becoming citizens of Panama and who have completed ten years of residence in the territory of the Republic. Six years of residence will suffice if they are married and have a family in Panama, and three years if they are married to a Panaman woman.
Colombians who, having participated in the achievement of the independence of the Republic of Panama, have declared their willingness to become Panamans or so declare before the municipal council of the district in which they reside.

Article 7.

Panaman nationality is lost:

By taking out naturalization papers in a foreign country and establishing domicile there.
By accepting employment or honors from another government without the permission of the President of the Republic.
Being born a Panaman, by refusing to indorse the movement for the independence of the nation.
For having pledged one’s self to the service of a hostile nation.

Nationality can only be restored by act of the National Assembly.

Article 8.

It is the duty of all Panamans to serve the nation as prescribed by law, and it is both their duty and that of foreigners residing in the Republic to live in subjection to the constitution and the laws, and to respect and obey the authorities.

Article 9.

Foreigners shall enjoy the same rights in Panama as are granted to Panamans by the laws of the nation to which the foreigners belong, except as to what may be stipulated in public treaties, or, in the absence of the latter, by the provisions of the law.

Article 10.

Naturalized or domiciled foreigners shall not be obliged to take up arms against the land of their birth.

Article 11.

All Panamans over twenty-one years of age are citizens of the Republic.

Article 12.

Citizenship consists in the right of electing to public positions filled by popular vote and in the capacity to hold public office with authority and jurisdiction.

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Article 13.

Citizenship once acquired is only lost:

As a penalty in accordance with the law, but rehabilitation can be obtained through the National Assembly.
By having lost Panaman nationality, according to the national constitution.

Article 14.

The rights of citizenship are suspended:

When a citizen is being criminally prosecuted, as soon as an order committing him to prison is given by the judge.
When he does not lawfully enjoy the free management of his property.
For habitual drunkenness.


individual rights.

Article 15.

The authorities of the Republic are constituted for the purpose of protecting all persons, whether residents or sojourners, in their lives, their honor, and their property, and of insuring the mutual respect of natural, constitutional and legal rights, repressing and punishing crime.

Article 16.

All Panamans and foreigners are equal before the law. There will be neither public nor private privileges.

Article 17.

Every person has the right to present respectful petitions to the authorities, for motives of either public or private interest, and to receive a prompt reply.

Article 18.

Legitimate public corporations are entitled to be recognized as legal personalities, and, as such, to perform civil acts and enjoy the guarantees insured under this head, with general limitations established by the laws for the sake of the general welfare.

Article 19.

There shall be no slaves in Panama. He who is a slave, and sets foot in the territory of the Republic, shall be free.

Article 20.

All the inhabitants of the Republic have the right to assemble peacefully and unarmed, and to form associations for all the legitimate purposes of life.

Article 21.

Every person may travel within the boundaries of the Republic and change residence without the necessity of a permit, passport, or other similar requisite, except as to what the laws prescribe with regard to judicial orders of restraint and concerning immigration.

Article 22.

No one shall be tried or sentenced except by competent judges or courts, in accordance with laws existing prior to the crime committed, and in the form established by these laws.

Nevertheless, officials who exercise authority or jurisdiction may punish without previous trial any person who may be insulting or disrespectful to them while they are discharging their duties; and military commanders and [Page 565] captains of vessels may inflict summary penalties in order to check insubordination, maintain order, and repress crimes committed on board vessels and away from port.

Article 23.

No one shall be molested in his person or family, or be placed in prison or under arrest, or detained, or have his home searched, except by virtue of a warrant issued by a competent authority, with the legal formalities and for a cause previously defined in the laws.

In no case shall there be detention, imprisonment or arrest for debts or purely civil obligations, except that a party may be restrained by judicial order from leaving a place until he has answered the charge against him.

A culprit caught in the act of committing a crime may be apprehended and taken before the judge by any person whomsoever.

Article 24.

Any person who is detained or imprisoned without the legal formalities, or except in the cases prescribed in this constitution or in the laws, shall be set at liberty upon his own request or that of any other person. The law shall determine the form of this summary proceeding.

Article 25.

No one is obliged to testify in a criminal matter against himself, or against his consort, or against any member of his family within the fourth degree of consanguinity or the second of affinity.

Article 26.

The profession of all religions is free, as is also the practice of all forms of worship, without any other restriction than respect for Christian morality and public order. It is recognized, however, that the Catholic religion is that of the majority of the inhabitants of the Republic, and the law shall provide that it be aided in founding a theological seminary in the capital and in sending missions to the native tribes.

Article 27.

Every person may freely express his opinion, either orally or in writing, by means of the press, or by any other process, without being first subject to censorship, provided always that he refers to the official acts of public functionaries.

Legal responsibility will, however, be incurred when the honor of persons is assailed by any of these means.

Article 28.

Correspondence and other private documents are inviolable, and neither the former nor the latter shall be seized or examined except by direction of a competent judicial authority, and with the formalities prescribed by law. In all cases secrecy shall be maintained with regard to matters having no bearing on the object of the seizure or examination.

Article 29.

Every person may exercise any honorable trade or occupation without the necessity of belonging to a trades union or professional association.

The authorities shall exercise supervision over the industries and professions as regards public morality, safety, and health. It is necessary to possess a diploma of fitness in order to practice the medical professions and their auxiliary branches.

Article 30.

Obligations of a civil character arising from contracts or other acts, deeds, or omissions which produce them, can not be altered or annulled by either the executive or the legislative power.

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Article 31.

The laws shall determine everything relating to the civil status of persons, together with the rights and duties connected therewith.

Article 32.

The laws shall not have a retroactive effect.

In criminal matters a permissive or favorable law shall be applied in preference to a restrictive or unfavorable one, even though it be subsequent to the latter.

Article 33.

Rights acquired in accordance with the laws shall not be encroached upon or disregarded by subsequent laws.

When the application of a law enacted for reasons of public utility interferes with the rights of private persons, the private interests shall yield to the public interests. If, however, it becomes necessary to make expropriations, full indemnification must first be granted.

Article 34.

The destination of gifts made inter vivos or by testament, in conformity with the laws, for objects of charity or public instruction, shall not be changed or modified by the legislator.

Article 35.

Private persons are not amenable before the authorities except for violation of the constitution or of the laws. Public officials are amenable for the same cause, for exceeding their authority, or for dereliction in the performance of their duties.

Article 36.

In case of flagrant violation of a constitutional precept to the detriment of any person, an order from a superior will not exempt from responsibility the agent executing it.

Enlisted men of the army, while on duty, are excepted from this provision, the responsibility falling solely upon the hierarchic superior who gives the order.

Article 37.

Games of fortune and chance shall not be permitted in the territory of the Republic. The law shall enumerate them.

Article 38.

There shall be no official monopolies.

Article 39.

There shall be no real estate which is incapable of being freely alienated, nor any irredeemable obligations.

Article 40.

Every author or inventor shall enjoy the exclusive ownership of his work or invention during the time and in the manner prescribed by law.

Article 41.

No one is obliged to pay a tax or duty which has not been legally established and which is not collected in the manner prescribed by the laws.

Article 42.

No one shall be deprived of his property, either in whole or in part, except as a penalty or by general taxation according to the laws. For grave reasons of public utility, defined by the legislator, there may take [Page 567] place a forcible alienation of property or of rights by judicial order, but the payment of the declared value shall be made before the owner is dispossessed of them.

Article 43.

Buildings devoted to any form of worship, theological seminaries, and the residences of bishops and parish priests shall not be subject to taxation, and shall only be occupied in case of urgent public necessity.

Article 44.

In no case shall the legislator establish the penalty of confiscation of property.

Article 45.

Prisons are places of security and expiation and not of cruel punishment; consequently, all severity which is not necessary for the custody and correction of the prisoners is forbidden.

Article 46.

The laws shall fix the degree of responsibility which officials of any class incur by encroaching on the rights guaranteed under this title.

Article 47.

The individual rights recognized and guaranteed in articles 21, 23, 24, 27, 28, and 42 may be temporarily suspended in all or in part of the Republic, when the safety of the State requires it, in case of foreign war or internal commotion which threatens the public peace.

This suspension shall be decreed by the National Assembly if it is in session; if, however, it is not in session and the danger is imminent, the President of the Republic may order the suspension by means of a decree signed by all his secretaries. In this case the President, in the same decree of suspension, shall convoke the National Assembly in order to explain to it the reasons upon which the decree was based.

Article 48.

The National Assembly is prohibited from enacting laws which may diminish, restrict, or impair any of the individual rights mentioned in the present title, without a previous amendment to the constitution, except in the cases provided for by the latter.



Article 49.

All citizens over 21 years of age are entitled to exercise the right of suffrage, except those who may be under a judicial interdiction and those who are judicially disfranchised on account of crime.

The law may provide that certain elections be held in two grades, and, in this case, it shall determine the qualifications of the electors of the second grade.

Article 50.

The laws shall fix the degree of responsibility incurred by public officials who, by their acts, encroach on the rights recognized in this title.


the branches of the government.

Article 51.

The Government of the Republic is divided into three branches, to wit: The legislative, the executive, and the judicial.

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Article 52.

Each branch of the Government is limited and exercises its functions separately.


the legislative branch.

Article 53.

The legislative power is exercised by a body called the National Assembly, composed of as many Deputies as correspond to the electoral districts, at the rate of one for every ten thousand inhabitants and one in addition for a remainder of not less than five thousand. The Deputies are elected for a period of four years.

There shall be substitutes to take the places of the regular incumbents in case they fail to appear absolutely or temporarily.

Article 54.

The National Assembly shall meet, without the necessity of a call, in the capital of the Republic, every two years, on the first day of September.

Article 55.

The duration of the regular sessions of the National Assembly shall be ninety days, which, in case of necessity, the assembly itself shall extend for as much as thirty days. The President of the Republic may call extraordinary sessions for such period as he may indicate and to deal exclusively with such matters as he may submit to it.

Article 56.

The Deputies to the National Assembly must be citizens who have attained the age of 25 years and are in the full enjoyment of their civil and political rights.

Article 57.

The members of the National Assembly shall not be responsible for their opinions or votes, given orally or in writing, in the discharge of their duties, and at no time or by any authority shall they be prosecuted on this account.

Article 58.

The President of the Republic, the secretaries of state, the justices of the supreme court, and the attorney-general of the nation shall not be eligible to membership in the assembly unless they shall have ceased to exercise their functions for a period of six months. Citizens who have exercised the executive power shall rest under the same disability.

Article 59.

In like manner no other officer shall be eligible as a deputy to the assembly who is vested with jurisdiction or command in an electoral district and has exercised his authority therein ninety days before the day of election.

Article 60.

For twenty days before the opening of the sessions, during the said sessions, and for twenty days thereafter, no members of the National Assembly shall be subject to criminal trial without the assent of the assembly. In cases of flagrantis delicti, a member may be arrested and immediately placed at the disposal of the said body. Members shall likewise be free from civil actions during the same period.

Article 61.

No increase of per diem or mileage allowances shall become effective until after the term of the members of the assembly which voted the said increase shall have expired.

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Article 62.

The deputies of the assembly shall not enter, directly or indirectly, into any contract with the administration, nor shall they accept from any one powers of attorney to transact business connected with the Government.

Article 63.

In cases of temporary or permanent absence of a deputy, his place shall be taken by his substitute. When the substitution takes place after the principal member shall have attended the session, the mileage to the capital will belong to the latter and that from the capital to the substitute.

Article 64.

The President of the Republic may not confer on the deputies of the National Assembly other offices than those of secretary of state, governor of a province, or diplomatic or consular agent.

The acceptance of any one of those offices shall vacate that of deputy.

Article 65.

The following are legislative functions of the National Assembly:

To issue national codes and the laws necessary for the regulation of all the administrative branches of the Government, to revise them, and to repeal them.
To determine the flag and the coat of arms of the Republic.
To create or abolish offices, and to specify the functions, duties, and powers connected therewith; to fix the terms of office and to designate salaries.
To grant or refuse its approval to public treaties which the executive may negotiate; without such approval they can neither be ratified nor exchanged.
To approve or disapprove contracts or agreements made by the President of the Republic with private persons, companies, or political entities, in which the nation may be interested, if they have not been previously authorized, or if the formalities prescribed by the National Assembly have not been observed, or of any of the clauses therein should not be consistent with the appropriate empowering law.
To grant authority to the executive to conclude treaties, negotiate loans, alienate national property, and exercise other functions within the limits of the constitution.
To declare war, and to authorize the executive to make peace.
To designate the place where the supreme branches of the Government are to be located.
To divide the territory of the Republic into electoral districts.
To define and regulate the setting aside or granting of public lands.
To fix the numbers of the armed forces in time of peace.
To organize the national police.
To promote and foster public education, as well as sciences and arts.
To order by decree the public buildings which the Government may have to erect, and such other public works as may have to be undertaken at national expense.
To promote useful or beneficent enterprises worthy of furtherance and support, and to vote them aid.
To enact such laws as shall be necessary for taking the census of the population and gathering national statistics.
To grant amnesties, but if any civil liability is incurred with respect to private persons, the Republic shall be obliged to pay the indemnities.
To organize the public credit.
To acknowledge the national debt and regulate the service connected with it.
To make appropriations for the expenses of the administration, on the basis of the estimates presented by the executive, conforming or not to said estimates.
If for any reason whatever the appropriations act should not be passed by the National Assembly, the former financial act will continue in force.
To establish the duties, taxes, and revenues necessary to carry on the public service.
To decree the alienation of national property, or its devotion to public uses.
To determine the standard, weight, value, form, stamp, and denominations of the national money and regulate the system of weights and measures.
To increase or diminish the number of provinces and municipal districts, and to change their boundaries.
To frame regulations for their internal administration.

Article 66.

The judicial functions of the National Assembly are:

To take cognizance of charges and complaints lodged against the President or the person in charge of the executive power in cases involving their responsibility, the secretaries of state, the justices of the supreme court, and the attorney-general of the nation.
To try the President of the Republic, or person in charge of the executive power, in accordance with this constitution; the secretaries of state, the justices of the supreme court of justice, and the atorney-general of the nation, when charged with acts performed, during the discharge of their functions, against the safety of the State, against the free operation of the public powers, or in violation of the national constitution and laws.

The procedure to be followed in such cases and the penalty applicable thereto shall be determined by law.

Article 67.

The executive functions of the National Assembly are:

To inspect the credentials of its own members and to decide whether the said credentials are in the form prescribed by law or not.
To reinstate in their citizenship those who may have lost it.
To accept or decline the resignations of their offices that may be tendered by the President of the Republic or the “designados.”
To elect at ordinary sittings and for a term of two years three “designados,” who, in the absence of the President of the Republic, will exercise the executive power in the cases and order provided by law.
When, for any reason, the National Assembly shall have failed to elect any “designados,” those who were previously elected shall retain their character as such in their order.
To appoint the members of the court of accounts.
To appoint a fiscal inspector of all the treasury offices of the Republic.
To appoint commissions for the demarkation of the boundaries of the nation.
To call upon the secretaries of state for such oral or written reports as it may need.
To examine and finally close at each ordinary session the general account of the treasury which may be submited to it by the Executive.
To grant leave of absence to the President of the Republic or to the person in charge of the executive power.
To permit or refuse the sojourning of foreign war vessels in the ports of the Republic when the stay is longer than two months.

Article 68.

The National Assembly is inhibited:

From allowing by decree gratuities, indemnities, pensions, or other expenditures that shall not be intended for the settlement of debts or rights recognized in accordance with the existing law, except as to what is provided in Article 65.
From passing acts of proscription or persecution against any persons or corporations.
From passing resolutions of approval or censure regarding official acts; and
From offering to direct public officers.


the executive branch.

Article 69.

The executive power is exercised by a magistrate who shall be styled President of the Republic, and have for the discharge of his office the number of secretaries [Page 571] that may be fixed by law. The President shall enter upon the discharge of his constitutional functions on the first day of October following that of his election, and will remain in office for a term of four years.

The same law shall likewise determine the denomination and order of precedence of the secretaries of departments.

Article 70.

The requirements for the office of President of the Republic are:

To be a citizen of Panama by birth.
To be at least thirty-five years old.

Article 71.

The President-elect, or the person who may have to take his place, shall take possession of his office before the president of the Assembly and take the following oath: “I swear to God and to the country that I shall faithfully observe the constitution and the laws of Panama.”

Article 72.

If, for any reason whatever, the President should be unable to take possession before the President of the National Assembly, he shall take the oath before the president of the supreme court of justice, and failing this, before two witnesses.

Article 73.

The duties of the President of the Republic are:

Freely to appoint and remove the secretaries of state, the governors of provinces, and all persons that are to fill any public office whatever, the appointment to which does not belong to other officials or corporations.
To see to the maintenance of public order.
To direct the diplomatic or commercial relations with other nations, freely to appoint and receive the respective agents, and to conclude public treaties and conventions which shall be submitted to the National Assembly for its approval.
To see to it that the National Assembly shall meet on the day appointed by the constitution or by the resolution or decree by which extraordinary sessions may be called, and to take in good time the necessary measures for the payment to the Deputies of the mileage allowed them by law.
To submit at the beginning of each legislature and on the first day of its ordinary sessions a message relative to the affairs of the administration.
To furnish the assembly with such special reports as the latter may call for.
To sanction and promulgate the laws, to obey them, and to see to their exact execution.
To submit, within the first ten days of the regular sessions of the National Assembly, the estimates of the receipts and expenditures for the following two years, and the general account of the budget and of the treasury.
To supervise the collection and, administration of the revenues of the Republic and to order their expenditure in accordance with the laws.
To conclude administrative contracts for the performance of services and the execution of public works in accordance with the fiscal laws, with the obligation of furnishing an account thereof to the assembly in its ordinary sessions.
To grant charters for useful privileges in conformity with the laws.
To issue naturalization papers in conformity with the laws.
To grant to natives who request it permission to accept positions or distinctions from foreign governments.
To control, regulate and supervise national public instruction.
To see that the public institutions of the nation are properly conducted.
To sanction, promulgate and have executed all sanitary regulations prepared by the national board of health.
To appoint the justices of the supreme court, the attorney-general of the nation, the public prosecutors and their deputies, in accordance with the conditions required by law.
To grant pardons, and to commute and remit penalties in accordance with the law governing the exercise of this power.
To confer military grades in accordance with the constitutional and legal formalities.
To avail himself of the public forces as supreme head of the nation.

Article 74.

All acts of the President of the Republic, except the appointments or removals of his secretaries of state, shall be without any validity or force whatever until they are countersigned or acted upon by the secretary of the department to which they pertain, who by this very act renders himself responsible.

Article 75.

The President of the Republic, or the person in charge of the executive power, may refrain from the discharge of his office during a period of leave which shall be granted by the National Assembly, or, during a recess of the latter, by the supreme court of justice.

In case of illness, a previous notice to either body may suffice.

Article 76.

The President, in the exercise of his functions and in the public interest, may visit, for such a time as he may deem proper, any part of the Republic.

Article 77.

The salary allowed by law to the President of the Republic shall not be changed during the same term for which it has been allowed.

Article 78.

The President of the Republic or whoever acts in his place is amenable only in the following cases:

For exceeding his constitutional powers.
For acts of violence or coercion in elections, or which prevent the meeting of the National Assembly, or impede the latter and the other public bodies or authorities established by the constitution, in the exercise of their functions.
For crimes of high treason.

In the first two cases the penalty can be none other than removal from office, and, if the President should have ceased to exercise his functions, disqualification from holding any other public office. In the latter case common law shall be applied.

Article 79.

In the accidental or permanent absence of the President of the Republic, the executive power shall be exercised by one of the “designados” in the order in which they have been elected.

The only cases of permanent absence of the President are his death, his accepted resignation, or his removal.

The person in charge of the executive power shall enjoy the same pre-eminence and exercise the same powers as the President of the Republic whose place he is supplying.

Article 80.

In order to be a “designado” the same qualifications are required as for President of the Republic

Article 81.

When the absence of the President can not for any reason be supplied by the “designados,” the duties of President shall be performed by the secretary of state, who may be selected at a cabinet meeting by a majority of votes.

Article 82.

A citizen who has been elected President of the Republic shall not be re-elected to the following term if he should have filled the office of President within the eighteen months immediately preceding the new election.

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Article 83.

Any citizen who may have been called upon to fill the office of President, and have so filled it within the six months preceding the day set for the election of the new President, as well as any relative of such citizen down to the fourth degree of consanguinity or the second of affinity, shall likewise be barred from election to this office.


the executive departments.

Article 84.

The distribution of business according to its nature among the several departments of state devolves upon the President of the Republic.

Article 85.

In order to be a secretary of state (head of a department) the same qualifications are necessary as for a deputy to the National Assembly.

Article 86.

The secretaries of state are the sole organs of communication between the executive power and the National Assembly; they may propose bills and participate in the debates.

Article 87.

Each secretary of state shall present to the National Assembly, within ten days after the beginning of each Legislature, a report or statement concerning the condition of the business assigned to his department and regarding such reforms as he may deem expedient to introduce.

Article 88.

The National Assembly may require the assistance of the secretaries of state when it deems proper.

Article 89.

The cabinet council shall be composed of all the secretaries of state and shall be presided over by the President of the Republic.


the judiciary.

Article 90.

The judicial power shall be exercised in the Republic by a supreme court of justice, by such inferior and ordinary courts as the law may establish, and by such other tribunals or special commissions as it may become necessary to create in accordance with public treaties.

The Assembly exercises certain judicial functions.

Article 91.

The supreme court of justice shall consist of five justices, appointed for a term of four years. There shall be five substitutes, also appointed for four years, who shall fill, in their order, any accidental vacancy on the bench. In the event of permanent vacancy a new appointment shall be made. The office of justice shall be vacated through the acceptance of other offices.

Article 92.

In the ordinary courts which the law may establish, the judges shall be appointed by the court or judge immediately superior in rank.

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Article 93.

In order to be justice of the supreme court, one must be a citizen of Panama by birth or by choice, have resided on the Isthmus for over 15 years, be fully 30 years of age and in the full enjoyment of civil and political rights, be a law graduate of a university, have had at least 10 years’ practice as a lawyer of good standing, or discharged, during an equal period, the duties of judge or prosecuting attorney, and have received no sentence whatever for any common law offence.

The same qualifications shall be required of judges of the courts of justice that may be established by law.

Article 94.

No judge shall be suspended from his office except in the cases and with the formalities provided for by law, nor removed except by virtue of a judicial sentence.

Article 95.

The law shall determine what cases of a criminal character shall be tried by the jury system.

Article 96.

Justice shall be administered gratuitously throughout the territory of the Republic.

Article 97.

The law shall determine the salaries of officers of the judiciary, and such salaries shall neither be increased nor decreased during the term for which such officers shall have been appointed.


the making of the laws.

Article 98.

Laws shall originate in the National Assembly on the proposition of its members or of the secretaries of state.

Excepted from this provision are laws concerning civil suits and judicial procedure, which may only be modified upon the proposition of special committees of the assembly, or of the justices of the supreme court.

Article 99.

No legislative act shall become law until it shall have received the approval of the National Assembly in three debates on separate days, a majority of the votes, and the sanction of the Executive.

Article 100.

The second debate on a law shall not be closed, nor shall the law be voted on in a third debate, without the presence of a majority of the members composing the assembly.

Article 101.

After its approval by the assembly a bill shall go over to the Executive, and, if the latter likewise approve it, he will take steps to cause it to be promulgated as a law. If the Executive should not approve the bill, he shall return it to the assembly, with a statement of his objections.

Article 102.

The Executive may avail himself of a term of six days in which to return any bill with his objections when the said bill shall consist of not more than fifty articles; of ten days, when the bill contains from fifty-one to two hundred articles, and of fifteen days when there are more than two hundred articles.

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Article 103.

If the Executive should, at the expiration of those terms, have failed to return the legislative act with his objections, he shall be held to sanction and promulgate it; but if the assembly should take a recess before the expiration of the said terms, it shall be the duty of the Executive to publish the bill, whether approved or objected to, within ten days after that on which the National Assembly may have closed its sessions.

Article 104.

All bills objected to in their entirety by the Executive shall be returned to the assembly for a third debate: those objected to in part only will be reconsidered in second debate for the sole purpose of taking the objections of the Executive into account.

Article 105.

The Executive shall sanction every bill which, having been reconsidered, shall be passed by a two-thirds vote of the deputies present at the debate, provided always that their number be not less than that required for a quorum.

Should the Executive object to a bill on the ground of unconstitutionality, and the National Assembly insist upon pressing it, the bill should be referred to the supreme court of justice for the final decision of the latter body as to the validity of the law. If the decision should be in the affirmative, the Executive shall be bound to sanction and promulgate the law; if in the negative, the bill shall be laid aside.

Article 106.

If the Executive should fail in his duty of sanctioning the laws in the manner and under the conditions stipulated in this title, they shall be sanctioned and published by the president of the assembly.

Article 107.

Every law shall be promulgated within six days after it shall have been sanctioned.

Article 108.

The laws may be accompanied by an explanatory statement, and their text shall begin with the following preamble: “The National Assembly of Panama decrees.”

Article 109.

Bills that remain pending in the session of one year shall not be again taken up, except as new bills in another legislature.


public prosecution.

Article 110.

Public prosecution shall be conducted by an attorney-general of the nation, by the public prosecutors and deputies, and by such other officers as the law may designate.

Article 111.

It shall be the duty of the officers of public prosecution to defend the interests of the nation; to see to the enforcement of the laws, execution of judicial sentences and administrative orders; to watch the official acts of public officials and to prosecute offenses and misdemeanors that disturb social order.

[Page 576]

Article 112.

The term of office of attorney-general of the nation shall be four years.

Article 113.

The same qualifications as have been specified for justices of the supreme court shall be required for the office of attorney-general of the nation.

Article 114.

The special duties of the attorney-general of the nation shall be:

To see to it that all the public officials in the service of the nation properly discharge their duties.
To arraign before the supreme court such officials as must be tried by that body.
To see to it that the other officers of public prosecution faithfully discharge their duties and to take appropriate action to hold them responsible for all derelictions committed by them.
Freely to appoint and remove all his immediate subordinates.

And such other duties as the law may ascribe to him.


the national treasury.

Article 115.

The Republic of Panama holds in ownership:

All property within the territory that belonged, by whatsoever title, to the Republic of Colombia.
The rights and stock that the Republic of Colombia owned within or without the country by reason of the sovereignty it exercised over the territory of the Isthmus of Panama.
The property, revenues, lands, securities, rights, and stock that belonged to the former department of Panama.
The vacant lands, salt deposits, lode and placer mines, or mines of any other character, and those of precious stones, without prejudice to lawfully acquired rights.

Article 116.

The power of issuing legal tender money, of whatever description, is vested in the nation and can not be transferred. There shall be no private bank of issue.

Article 117.

No paper money shall be made legal tender in the Republic. Consequently, any person may refuse any note or other certificate in which he has no confidence, whether it be of official or of private origin.

Article 118.

The landed property in the Republic shall not be transferable to foreign governments, except as stipulated in public treaties.

Article 119.

No expenditure of public money shall be made without authority of law. Likewise no appropriation shall be applied by transfer to any item not provided for in the estimates.

Article 120.

Should the necessity arise to make an expenditure which in the judgment of the Executive cannot be avoided, during the recess of the National Assembly and tor which no fund, or an insufficient fund, may have been appropriated, an additional or extraordinary allowance may be granted to the department concerned. [Page 577] Such allowance shall be granted by the cabinet council, under the joint responsibility of the whole cabinet, and an instrument shall be drawn up by which the allowance granted is to be fully justified. The legalization of such allowances appertains to the National Assembly.

Article 121.

No indirect tax or increase of such taxes shall be collected until three months after the date of the promulgation of the law establishing such a tax or increase.


public forces.

Article 122.

All citizens of Panama are bound to take up arms whenever demanded by public necessity for the defence of national independence and the institutions of the country.

The law will determine the conditions for exemption from military service.

Article 123.

The law shall organize the military service and the national police.

Article 124.

The nation may maintain a permanent army for its defence.

Recruiting is and shall be prohibited.

Article 125.

The public forces are not a deliberative organization. They may assemble only by order of the proper authority, and may make petitions only on subjects relating to the good service and the morality of the army, and in accordance with the laws of their establishment.

Article 126.

Crimes committed by military persons on active duty, or in connection with such duty, shall be taken cognizance of by courts-martial, or military courts, in accordance with the provisions of the military code.

Article 127.

The National Government alone may import and manufacture arms and munitions of war.



Article 128.

There shall be in each province a governor, whose appointment and removal shall be at the pleasure of the President of the Republic, and whose powers and duties shall be defined by law.

Article 129.

There shall be in each municipal district a corporation that shall be styled municipal council and consist of the number of members determined by law and elected directly by popular vote.

Article 130.

Municipal districts are autonomous as to their internal affairs, but they cannot contract debts without the authorization of the National Assembly.

[Page 578]

Article 131.

It shall be within the province of “municipal councils to take, by means of their own resolutions or of regulations issued by technical boards or commissions, such dispositions as may be expedient for the government of the district; to vote local taxes and expenditures within the bounds established by the fiscal system of the nation, and to exercise such other functions as may be ascribed to them by law.

Article 132.

There shall be in each municipal district a mayor (alcalde) named in the manner to be provided for by law, who shall exert administrative powers in the capacity of agent of the governor and mandatory of the people.


general provisions.

Article 133.

Primary instruction shall be compulsory, and, when public, shall be free. There shall also be schools of arts and trades and institutions of secondary and professional instruction under Government control.

The law may decentralize public instruction and shall assign to it special revenues.

Article 134.

There shall be in Panama no office whose powers and duties shall not be particularized by law or regulations, and no public officer shall receive two or more salaries from the public treasury except under the provisions that may be made by law in special cases.

Article 135.

Ministers of the various religious denominations shall not hold any office, employment, or public trust in the Republic, whether personal, civil, or military, excepting such positions as are connected with charity or public instruction.

Article 136.

The Government of the United States of America may intervene in any part of the Republic of Panama to restablish public peace and constitutional order in the event of their being disturbed, provided that that nation shall, by public treaty, assume or have assumed the obligation of guaranteeing the independence and sovereignty of this Republic.


revision of the constitution.

Article 137.

This constitution may be amended through a legislative act drawn up in the usual form, submitted by the Government to the following regular National Assembly for its final consideration, discussed anew by the latter and approved by two-thirds of the members constituting the Assembly.


transitory provisions.

Article 138.

In order to secure for posterity a part of the pecuniary advantages derived from the negotiations for the construction of the interoceanic canal, the sum [Page 579] of six million dollars is hereby set aside for investment in securities bearing a fixed annual interest. The said investment shall be regulated by law.

Article 139.

The law may impose the death penalty only for the crime of murder when it is of an atrocious character. This, while there are no good penal establishments or real penitentiaries in the Republic.

Article 140.

The first President of the Republic shall be elected by the National Convention by a majority of the votes on the day of the promulgation of this constitution. He shall enter upon his office at once and discharge its duties until the 30th of September, 1908.

The “designados” shall be elected on the same day as the President and their term shall expire on the 30th of September, 1906.

Article 141.

Any citizen may be elected first constitutional President of the Republic of Panama who, although not a Panaman by birth, shall have taken an active part in securing the independence of the Republic.

Article 142.

As soon as this constitution shall have been sanctioned by the board of provisional government of the Republic, the convention shall lose its character as such and shall assume all the functions assigned to the National Assembly, the prohibition contained in article 64 not applying to the delegates to the convention.

Article 143.

Before the date on which the first National Assembly is to meet, the constituent national convention shall again exercise the legislative functions whenever it may be called in extraordinary session by the Executive.

Article 144.

The first National Assembly shall meet on the 1st of September, 1906.

Article 145.

All of the acts executed by the Board of Provisional Government from the third (3rd) of November, 1903, to the fifteenth (15) of January of the present year, are hereby expressly ratified.

Article 146.

Existing monopolies and other privileges shall continue until the expiration of their respective legal contracts, unless it is possible to reach equitable agreements with the concessionaries for their immediate termination.

Article 147.

All laws, decrees, regulations, orders, or other dispositions which may be in force at the time this constitution is promulgated shall continue to be observed unless they are contrary to it or to the laws of the Republic of Panama.

Article 148.

This constitution shall take effect, as far as the supreme branches (powers) of the Government are concerned, from the day on which it is sanctioned; and as far as the Republic is concerned, fifteen days after its publication in the Official Gazette.

[Page 580]

  • Pablo Arosemena,
    President of the National Constituent Convention, Delegate from the Province of Panamá.
  • Luis de Roux,
    First Vice-President of the National Constituent Convention, Delegate from the Province of Panamá.
  • H. Patiño,
    Second Vice-President of the National Constituent Convention, Delegate from the Province of Panama.
  • Alberto G. de Paredes,
    Delegate from the Province of Bocas del Toro.
  • Pacifico Melendez P.,
    Delegate from the Province of Bocas del Toro.
  • Rafael Neira A.,
    Delegate from the Province of Bocas del Toro.
  • Castulo Villamil,
    Delegate from the Province of Bocas del Toro.
  • R. Chiari,
    Delegate from the Province of Coclé.
  • E Ponce J.,
    Delegate from the Province of Coclé.
  • Modesto Ranjel,
    Delegate from the Province of Coclé.
  • S. Sucre J.,
    Delegate from the Province of Coclé.
  • Aurelio Guardia,
    Delegate from the Province of Colón.
  • J. A. Henriquez,
    Delegate from the Province of Colón.
  • Jerardo Ortega,
    Delegate from the Province of Colón.
  • Julio Icaza,
    Delegate from the Province of Colón.
  • J. M. de la Lastra,
    Delegate from the Province of Chiriquí.
  • Manuel C. Jurado,
    Delegate from the Province of Chiriquí.
  • Manuel Quintero V.,
    Delegate from the Province of Chiriquí.
  • Nicolas Victoria J.,
    Delegate from the Province of Chiriquí.
  • Aristides Arjona,
    Delegate from the Province of Los Santos.
  • Antonio Burgos,
    Delegate from the Province of Los Santos.
  • I. Quinzada,
    Delegate from the Province of Los Santos.
  • J. Vasquez G.,
    Delegate from the Province of Los Santos.
  • Fabio Arosemena,
    Delegate from the Province of Panamá.
  • Demetrio H. Brid,
    Delegate from the Province of Panamá.
  • Jil F. Sanchez,
    Delegate from the Province of Panamá.
  • N. Tejada,
    Delegate from the Province of Panamá.
  • C. L. Urriola,
    Delegate from the Province of Panamá.
  • J. B. Amador G.,
    Delegate from the Province of Veraguas.
  • B. E. Fabrega,
    Delegate from the Province of Veraguas.
  • Manuel S. Pinilla,
    Delegate from the Province of Veraguas.
  • Luis Garcia F.,
    Delegate from the Province of Veraguas.
  • Juan Brin,

Board of Provisional Government of the Republic,
Panama, February 15, 1904.

Let this be published and executed.

  • J. A. Arango, Federico Boyd, Tomas Abias.
  • Eusebio A. Morales,
    Minister of Government.
  • F. V. de la Espriella,
    Minister of Foreign Relations.
  • Carlos A. Mendoza,
    Minister of Justice.
  • Manuel E. Amador,
    Minister of the Treasury.
  • Nicanor A. de Obarrio,
    Minister of War and Navy.
  • Julio J. Fabrega,
    Minister of Public Instruction.