Measure against Grupo Epasa sets off alarms in the country and in the world

Freedom of expression and press in the country is once again in danger due to the decision of the Judge Baloísa Marquínez of the confiscation of the property and assets of the Editorial Group Panama America (Epasa) by the State, as part of the conviction for the New Business case.

Panama America, Criticism and Day by Daynewspapers printed by the editorial group would be gagged by the State, repeating the history of the beginnings of the military dictatorship, when the company was expropriated from the family that owned it, back then.

The attack on these inalienable rights of citizens has transcended borders and put Inter American Press Association (SIP), from which Epasa Group is part, alert.

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“Although we are respectful of judicial decisions and we will have to wait for other instances of the case, we are concerned that Panamanians lose an important source of information and what strategy the government will adopt in case the seizure sentence is ratified,” reacted Carlos Jornet, president of the IAPA Freedom of the Press and Information Commission.

The regional forum recalled the warnings made by directors of Epasa Group during the government of Juan Carlos Varela, on the persecution of his administration, which led to the genesis of the New Business case, when the pro-government deputy Jorge Iván Arrocha served as spokesman to carry out the complaint in a plenary session of the National Assembly.

“Since 2017, the IAPA has been including in its press freedom reports the judicial conflict over the purchase of Epasa. The case was part of resolutions and Epasa executives presented their points of view in the organization’s assemblies”, record the statement.

Jornet stated that the IAPA will be attentive to the development of the case, will monitor due process and the role that the Government jIt will play on the future of the editorial group, as well as the transparency of the process.

“Private ownership of a medium is essential to guarantee press freedom and the public’s right to information,” projection.

At the local level, the Union of Journalists talso raised its alarm sirens before the taking of Epasa on behalf of the State, represented by the Judicial Branch, through this ruling and the risk their workers face.

“Given the result of the ruling in the New Business Case, we are vigilant so that workers are guaranteed jobs and other labor benefits,” It is the position of the union.

The journalist and lawyer Justino González described the seizure of Epasa’s assets as a disastrous precedent for Panamanian democracy, arguing that as an accessory sentence it was unnecessary and excessive.

He explained that there was already an accessory penalty, also excessive, which consisted of a fine of $19 million that he imposed the judge Ricardo Martinelli.

2023-07-21 02:44:35
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