Panama has signed a judicial cooperation agreement with the European Union's Eurojust body, undertaking to speed up the execution of requests for assistance in organised crime investigations.

Eurojust and the Attorney General of the Republic of Panama, Mr Javier E. Caraballo Salazar, signed the "working arrangement" on 12 January to enable structured and closer cooperation in the fight against organised crime.

Eurojust said the agreement formalises its existing contact points in Panama and ensures closer communication to speed up the execution of judicial cooperation requests on both sides. Panama is the first Latin American country to sign a working arrangement with the agency.

Eurojust president Ladislav Hamran said: With Panama’s rich tradition as a bridge maker between continents in mind, I am delighted to sign into effect the Working Arrangement that will bring closer the European and Panamanian communities of prosecutors and judges.

"We share a similar criminal threat picture on both sides of the Atlantic as well as the resolve to intensify our joint judicial response. Eurojust therefore looks forward to engaging with colleagues in Panama; for instance, in the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking.

Javier E. Caraballo Salazar, Attorney General of Panama, stated: The effective fight against organised crime requires an increase in international cooperation, shared experiences, the development of joint investigations, the exchange of information and best practices, as well as direct, frank and trustworthy communication between justice officials.

"Eurojust is an international source of reference for this close collaboration in the fight against serious cross-border organised crime, which is why working jointly with Eurojust to disband criminal groups with ties to Panama and Europe is to vital to the Office of the Attorney General of Panama."

During his visit to Eurojust, Caraballo Salazar was accompanied by H.E. Elizabeth Ward Neiman, ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands and permanent representative to the International Organisations in The Hague.

The visit also included bilateral meetings with several desks at Eurojust to discuss operational cooperation in various crime areas.

Eurojust added: "As the main link between North and South America, Panama remains a very important partner in the fight against serious cross-border crime, with a focus on areas such as money laundering, trafficking of human beings and drug trafficking.

"The Working Arrangement Agreement, which enters into force today, includes arrangements for the exchange of strategic information and communication with the Contact Point, as well as data protection provisions."

In August 2022, Eurojust signed a Working Arrangement with the Ibero-American Association of Public Prosecutors. The purpose of this working arrangement is to encourage and develop cooperation between the parties in the fight against serious crime affecting the European Union and Latin America, particularly transnational organised crime, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, cybercrime and terrorism.