PANAMA In practice, press freedom exists in Panama, despite many restrictive legal measures still on the books. The measures, enacted more than 20 years ago under a dictatorship, have the goal of subjugating the print and broadcast media. Nevertheless, there are positive developments. The enactment of a law, which had been presented as a bill by legislator Arturo Araúz, partly repealed Law 11 of 1978, which had empowered authorities to impose arbitrary and severe sanctions on the print media without any measure of due process. The Araúz-sponsored initiative also repealed Law 68 of the same year, which had created the Technical Journalism Board that had been charged with deciding, in a similarly arbitrary fashion, who was suitably qualified to practice journalism. Prevailing legal measures still stipulate that journalists must have suitable qualifications to practice, but as a practical matter there is no way to comply with this requirement since the Technical Journalism Board is defunct. The Araúz-sponsored bill was signed into law by President Mireya Mosoco in a ceremony attended by an IAPA delegation which included Association President Tony Pederson; Rafael Molina, president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information; and Alberto Ibargüen, who was also representing the Committee to Protect Journalists. During the ceremony, President Mosoco pledged to “erase any vestige” of laws on the books affecting press freedom. She also signed the Declaration of Chapultepec. The government named two special commissions – comprised of journalists, lawyers and media representatives – to study laws affecting freedom of the press. The panels will propose bills to the executive branch to repeal media-restrictive measures, including criminal punishment for libel and slander. The commissions, which are meeting regularly, are expected to present their recommendations by June at the latest. Unfortunately, there is also some bad news. Judicial harassment of print and broadcast journalists persists. Journalists are the target of lawsuits for libel and/or slander and are constantly summoned to testify and to appear before inquiries and other judicial procedures, costing them time without any of their cases being solved. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to blame the government for this hostile attitude against the media, which rather stems from controversies between the country’s attorney general and journalists. In short, there have been advances in press freedom in Panama, but there is a lot more to be done.