Panama’s Political Constitution recognises having a territory legalised as a County as one of the rights of the indigenous peoples. In Panama, indigenous counties constitute special political divisions through which it is possible to create a territory legalised as a county, recognising and respecting the indigenous political,social, economic, cutural and spiritual institutions.
Law n.2 of June 2, 1987, article 249 of the Political Constitution – which indicates the functions of governors – states the following: “In an indigenous territory legalised as a county the legal regime will be applied and, in addition, this law.” This means that the county laws, among which the Organic Charters of the Counties that have been approved through executive decrees, will applied first. If there is no norm in the county laws that regulate a given situation, law n. 2 of June 2, 1987 will be applied in a supplementary form, which means that the indigenous or county laws have supremacy over national laws.
On the other hand, Article 90 says, “The State recognises and respects the ethnic identity of the national indigenous communities, will carry out projected programs for developing the physical, social and spiritual values of their cultures and will create an institute for studying, conserving and spreading these values and their languages, as well as promoting the total development of these human groups.” But there is more in terms of territory legalised as a county. The Third Contentious-Administrative Room of Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice, in its resolution of December 6, 2000, determined as follows: “Environmental protection, respect for the cultural and ethnic tradition of the national native communities, as well as the conservation of archeological sites and artifacts that testify of the Panamanian past are the values of the highest echelons that have, by their very nature, explicit consecration in our constitutional legislation…” (Continues)