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may commit in the exercise of their functions, for the purpose of declaring whether or not there are grounds for their indictment and placing the culprit at the disposal of the competent court.

Art. 156. Once a judgment has been pronounced declaring a person guilty of an official offense, the guilty party can not be granted a pardon.

Art. 157. Notwithstanding the approval which Congress may gire to the conduct of the executive, the President and the secretaries of State may

be indicted for official offenses up to five years after they have ceased in the exercise of their office.

ART. 158. When it has been declared that there are grounds for the indictment of a public official in the full exercise of his duties, and the latter has been freed of the charge, he shall resume the discharge of his duties.


ART. 159. The following laws are constitutive: the press law, the martial law and the law of asylum (amparo).



Art. 160. Whenever a partial reform of the Constitution or constitutive laws is deemed appropriate, this may be done, observing the following rules:

1. The bill shall be presented by two or more members of the houses and read twice, with an interval of four days.

2. Upon being taken up for debate, it shall be referred to a committee which shall present its report thereon within six days.

3. The report shall be read twice, on different days.

When the revised law has been approved by two thirds of the votes in each one of the houses, it shall be published by the press.

5. The reform shall be without legal effect until it has received the approval of two thirds of the votes in the next legislature, after a lapse of two years, in compliance with the usual procedure.

ART. 161. The reform of the articles of the Constitution which forbid the reelection of the person who exercises the Presidency of the Republic shall not be effective during the period in which said reform is made, nor in the following one.

Art. 162. Treaties or compacts referred to in the last part of Article 2 shall be ratified by a two thirds vote of each house, and by this act the Constitution shall be considered as amended, notwithstanding the provisions of this title.

Art. 163. An absolute constitutional reform may not be made imtil after a lapse of ten years, and for this purpose the regulations

of Article 160 shall be observed. A declaration to this effect having been made, a Constituent Assembly shall be convened.

ART. 164. The ordinary Congress, upon declaring that the Constitution should be entirely reformed, shall close its sessions and become ipso facto dissolved.


ART. 165. The present Constitution supersedes that of 30 March 1905 and the Law of Guarantees of 15 September 1910; moreover it declares the Constitution signed on 4 April of the present year by the previous Constituent Assembly to be null and void.

ART. 166. Until revised or repealed other laws shall remain in force, provided they are not contrary to the provisions of this Constitution.

ART. 167. The present Constitution shall go into force on 1 March 1912.


ART. 168. Pending the convening of the first Constitutional Congress elected in the manner and at the time established by the electoral law decreed by the present Constituent Assembly, the latter shall continue to discharge its duties and those which belong to the ordinary Congress in accordance with the Constitution.

Eor this purpose it can suspend its sessions and reopen them whenever it deems it proper.

Art. 169. The renewal of the deputies during the first biennia! period shall be made by lot, as shall also be that of the senators during the first and the second biennial periods.

ART. 170. The decrees of the present Constituent Assembly in regard to the appointments of President and of Vice-President of the Republic and magistrates of the courts of justice shall remain in full force and effect for the time which they respectively comprise.1

Art. 171. The decrees of 18 May, 15 July and 14 October last regarding the creation, attributions and powers of the Mixed Commission shall likewise remain in full force and effect, notwithstanding the provisions of this Constitution. The present National Constituent Assembly shall without any restriction enact such reformatory and supplementary laws and provisions as may be conducive to the objects stated in such decrees.

ART. 172. As soon as the Constitution is promulgated, all public employees shall take the oath in legal form to strictly and faithfully observe all its provisions.2

1 This article has been declared ineffective by decree of the National Constituent Assembly of 4 April 1913.

· Here follow the signatures of 40 deputies and the presidential decree of promulgation.


After having constituted part of Colombia as a State, then (since 1886) as a simple province, the territory of Panama became independent during the civil war of 1898–1902. This independence has not been formally recognized by Colombia, although an attempt in this direction was made in the treaty which it concluded with the State of Panama and the United States in January, 1909. By a treaty concluded 18 November 1903,2 the State of Panama ceded to the United States, in consideration of a sum of $10,000,000 and an annual rent of $250,000 a zone of territory necessary for the construction of the Panama Canal. The Constitution of the new State bears date of 13 February 1904; it was sanctioned the fifteenth of the same month by the junta of the provisional government. A legislative decree of 6 June 1904 modified Article 73, No. 18 (pardoning power). The electoral law (No. 89) dates from 7 July 1904.3


[PREAMBLE.] 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 the Panaman soil, invoking the protection of God, do ordain, decree and establish for the Panaman nation the following Constitution.


ARTICLE 1. The Panaman people hereby constitute themselves an independent and sovereign nation, ruled by a republican and demo

1 English text of the three treaties in Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1909 (Washington, 1914), pp. 223-233. These treaties being of a tripartite nature a re non-operative owing to the failure of Colombia to ratify them.

a English text in Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1904 Washington, 1905), pp. 543–351, and British and Foreign State Papers, 96: pp. 553–561.

This introductory paragraph is based upon F. R. DARESTE ET P. DARESTE, Les Conftitutions modernes (3d edition, Paris, 1910), vol. II, pp. 567-568.

* Spanish text and English translation in parallel columns in J. I. RODRIGUEZ, American Constitutions (Washington, 1906), vol. I, pp. 392-422. English translation also in the British and Foreign States Papers, 98 : pp. 950–970, and Papers relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1904 (Washington, 1905), pp. 562-58). The translation given here is based upon the one in RODRIGUEZ, 88381-19 -30


cratic government, under the denomination of the Republic of Panama.

ART. 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.

ART. 3. The territory of the Republic is the same which, under the Act of 27 February 1855, additional to the Granada Constitution of 1853, formed the State of Panama, and became afterwards, in 1886, the Department of Panama, with its islands, and the continental and insular territory which was awarded to the Republic of Colombia by the President of the French Republic on 11 September 1900. The territory of the Republic remains subject to the jurisdictional restrictions stipulated or which may be stipulated in public treaties with the United States of North America for the construction, maintenance or sanitation of any route of interoceanic transit.

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

ART. 4. The territory of the Republic is divided into the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Cocle, Colon, Chiriqui, Los Santos, Panama 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.

ART. 5. The territory, together with the public property forming a part thereof, belongs to the nation.


ART. 6. The following are Panamans:

1. All those born or who may be born in the territory of Panama, whatever the nationality of their fathers may be.

2. Children of Panaman father or mother, born in another territory, if they take up their domicile in the Republic and express their intention to become Panamans.

3. Foreigners, who have resided for over ten years in the Republic, professing some science, art or industry, or owning some real estate, or capital in circulation, if they declare, before the Panaman municipal authority of the territory in which they reside, their intention of being naturalized in Panama. Six years residence will suffice if they are married and have a family in Panama, and three years if they are married to a Panaman woman.

4. Colombians who, having taken part in the movement for the independence of the Republic of Panama, declare or have declared, before the municipal council of the district in which they reside, their intention to become Panamans.

1 French text in the British and Foreign State Papers, 92: pp. 1038–1040.

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