Providing safe haven to Montesinos would undermine Inter-American Convention Against Corruption
Transparency International (TI), the international anti-corruption organisation and the TI chapter in Panama have called on the Panamanian government to deny granting political asylum to the former head of the Peruvian secret service, Vladimiro Montensinos Torres. In a letter to the Panamanian President, Mireya Moscoso, TI says that "providing a safe haven for the corrupt is a clear breach of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption" which both Panama and Peru have ratified.
"Impunity in the face of severe corruption is a step backwards in the region's efforts to fight such corruption," TI Chairman Peter Eigen and the Chairman of TI Panama, Fernando Berguido say in their joint letter.
Montesinos fled Peru after a video tape surfaced that showed him bribing a parliamentarian. The revelations of the corruption charges against his once all-powerful intelligence chief forced Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori to deactivate the national intelligence service.
Both Panama and Peru are parties to the 1996 Inter-American Convention Against Corruption of the Organisation of American States (OAS). Article XIV clearly obliges signatories to "provide each other with the widest measure of mutual technical co-operation on the most effective ways and means of preventing, detecting, investigating and punishing acts of corruption." The Montesinos case presents a legitimate opportunity to enforce the meaning of the Convention and demonstrate the commitment of the region to fighting corruption.
"Panama's handling of this case will significantly test the Inter-American Convention," Eigen and Berguido say. &Granting political asylum to Mr Montesinos would seriously undermine the intent of the Convention and would furthermore be a clear misuse of the important notion of political asylum,& they conclude.
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