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Art. 7. Panaman nationality is lost :

1. By taking out naturalization papers in a foreign country and acquiring a domicile therein.

2. By accepting employment or honors from another government without the permission of the President of the Republic.

3. By refusing to indorse the movement for the independence of the nation, if the one who does so was born in Panama.

4. By engaging in the service of a hostile nation. Nationality can only be recovered through rehabilitation by the National Assembly.

Art. 8. It is the duty of all Panamans to serve the nation as may be provided by law, and they as well as all foreigners residing within the territory of the Republie must submit to the Constitution and the laws, and respect and obey the authorities.

Art. 9. Foreigners shall enjoy in Panama the same rights as are granted to Panamans by the laws of the nation to which the foreigners belong, unless something to the contrary has been stipulated in public treaties, or, in the absence thereof, by the provisions of the law.

Art. 10. Naturalized or domiciled foreigners shall not be bound to take up arms against the land of their birth.

Art. 11. All Panamans over 21 years of age are citizens of the Republic.

ART. 12. Citizenship consists in the right of voting in the elections of public officers and in the capacity to hold public offices with authority and jurisdiction. ART. 13. Citizenship, once acquired, is only lost:

1. As a penalty in accordance with the law, but rehabilitation may be obtained through the National Assembly.

2. By loss of the Panaman nationality, according to the national Constitution. Art. 14. Citizenship is suspended:

1. By criminal prosecution, as soon as the arrest of a citizen is ordered by the court.

2. By legal inability to freely administer property.
3. By habitual drunkenness.


ART. 15. The authorities of the Republic are constituted for the protection of all persons, whether residents or visitors, in their lives, honor and property, for the securing of reciprocal respect of all natural, constitutional and legal rights, and for the prevention and punishment of crime.

ART. 16. Panamans and foreigners are equal before the law. There shall be no exemptions or personal privileges.

ART. 17. Every person has the right to present respectful petitions to the authorities, on matters of public or private interest, and to receive a prompt reply.

ART. 18. Public corporations legally authorized have the right to be recognized as juridical persons, and to perform, as such, civil acts and enjoy the guarantees set forth in this title, with the general limitations established by the laws for reasons of general welfare.

Art. 19. There shall be no slaves in Panama. He who being a slave, sets foot in the territory of the Republic, shall be free.

Art. 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.

ART. 21. Every person shall be free to travel within the boundaries of the Republic and change residence, without the necessity of a permit, passport or other similar requisite, with the exceptions which the laws provide concerning the giving of security in land in judicial cases and concerning immigration.

ART. 22. No one shall be tried or sentenced except by competent judges or courts, by virtue of the laws existing prior to the commission of the offense, and in the form established by these laws.

Officials who exercise authority or jurisdiction may punish, nevertheless, for contempt, without previous trial, any one who may be insulting or disrespectful to them while discharging their duties: and military commanders and captains of vessels may inflict summary punishment in order to check insubordination, maintain order or repress crimes committed on board and away from port.

ART. 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 competent authority, with the legal formalities and for reasons previously set forth in the laws.

In no case shall there be detention, imprisonment, or arrest for debts or purely civil obligations, unless it is by judicial order for failure to give bond when required by law.

Offenders caught in flagrante delicto may be arrested and taken before the judge by any person whatever.

ART. 24. All persons detained or imprisoned without the legal formalities, or in violation of the Constitution or the laws, shall be set at liberty upon their own request or that of any other person. The law shall determine the form of this summary proceeding.

Art. 25. No one is bound to testify in criminal matters against himself, or against his consort, or against any member of his family within the fourth degree of consanguinity or the second of affinity.

Art. 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.

Art. 27. Every one may freely express his opinions, either orally or in writing, through the press, or in any other way, without being subject to censorship, when referring to official acts of public functionaries.

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

ART. 28. Correspondence and other private documents are inviolable, and neither the former nor the latter shall be seized or examined, except by order of 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.

ART. 29. All persons are free to engage in any honorable trade or occupation without necessity of belonging to guilds or professional associations.

The authorities shall exercise supervision over the industries and professions in so far as they may affect public morality, safety and health. The proper diploma shall be required for the practice of medical professions and their auxiliary branches.

ART. 30. Obligations of a civil character arising out of contracts or of acts, facts, or omissions capable to produce them shall not be impaired or annulled by either the executive or the legislative power.

ART. 31. The laws shall determine everything relating to the civil status of persons, and the rights and duties arising out of it.

ART. 32. Laws shall not have retroactive effect.

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

Art. 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 results in the conflict of the rights of private persons with the recognized necessity of the said law, the private interests shall yield to the public interests. Expropriations which may be considered necessary, however, shall require full and previous indemnification.

ART. 34. Donations, inter vivos or testamentary, made in conformity with the laws, for purposes of charity or public instruction, shall not be changed or modified by legislation.

Art. 35. Private persons are not responsible before the authorities except for violation of the Constitution or of the laws. Public offi


cials are responsible for the same cause, and also for exceeding their authority, or for dereliction in the performance of their duties.

ART. 36. In case of flagrant violation of a constitutional provision to the detriment of any person, an order from a superior will not exempt from responsibility the agent executing it.

Private soldiers, while on duty, are expected from this provision, the responsibility falling solely, in this case, upon the superior who gives the order.

ART. 37. Games of lot and chance shall not be permitted in the territory of the Republic. The law shall enumerate the games prohibited.

Art. 38. There shall be no official monopolies.

ART. 39. There shall be no entailment of real estate, nor irredeemable obligations.

Art. 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.

Art. 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.

Art. 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 law, condemnation of private property or of rights may be made by judicial order, but the payment of the declared value shall be made before the owner is dispossessed of them.

ART. 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 pccupied in case of urgent public necessity.

ART. 44. In no case shall the penalty of confiscation of property be established by law.

Art. 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.

Art. 46. The laws shall fix the degree of responsibility which public officials of any class incur by encroaching on the rights guaranteed by the provisions of this title.

Art. 47. The individual rights recognized and guaranteed in Articles 21, 23, 24, 27, 28 and 12 may be temporarily suspended in all or in part of the Republic, when the safety of the State shall require it, in case of foreign war or internal commotion threatening the public peace.

This suspension shall be decreed by the National Assembly, if it is in session; if 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 convene the National Assembly in order to explain to it the reasons upon which the decree was based.

Art. 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.


Art. 49. All citizens over 21 years of age are entitled to the exercise 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.

The election of the President and Vice-President of the Republic shall always be made by the direct vote of the citizens.1

Art. 50. The laws shall fix the degree of responsibility incurred hy public officials who, by their acts, encroach on the rights recognized in this title.

TITLE V.—THE PUBLIC POWERS. Art. 51. The government of the Republic is divided into three powers, namely: Legislative, executive and judicial.

Art. 52. All the public powers are limited and exercise their respective attributions separately.


ART. 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 10,000 inhabitants and one in addition for a fraction of not less than 5,000, 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.

ART. 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.

ART. 55. The duration of the regular sessions of the National Assembly shall be ninety days, which, in case of necessity, the As

1 This paragraph was added by Article 4 of the Legislative Act of 14 March 1917 (below, p. 478).

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