The Minister of Health sent a piece of correspondence to the Assembly to reform what is known as the “Alabí Law.” Experts point out that this reform could be to send a signal to the International Monetary Fund (IMF),

Among the requests that the ruling party will enter the Legislative Assembly today is a piece that seeks to amend the “Alabí Law.”

The Minister of Health, Francisco Alabí, sent a piece of correspondence to the Assembly this past October 8 to reform the “Law for the use of products for medical treatments in exceptional public health situations caused by the covid-19 pandemic.” better known as “Ley Alabí.

Said regulation was approved on May 5, 2021, and was harshly questioned because it exonerates officials involved in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic, in case of facing legal or administrative lawsuits and complaints.

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The proposed amendment states that immunity will not extend to acts of corruption in the provision of health services.

“The immunity granted by this article does not extend to any act of fraud, bribery, corruption, theft, counterfeiting or piracy, trafficking in stolen goods or similar criminal activity, derived from the provision of any product or service related to the situation of public health caused by the covid-19 pandemic, to which this article refers ”, reads the reform proposal to article 4 of the regulations.

Specifically, what is established in article 4 of said regulation would be changed, exonerating persons or entities that operate in the health sector will enjoy immunity from judicial or administrative proceedings against them.

The current “Alabí Law” also exempts them from any civil, criminal or commercial liability or obligation to indemnify that arises from, or is related to, any product or service for medical treatment or its development, administration or use, within the context of an exceptional public health situation caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

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But what is the reason for such a request for reform? In the opinion of Cristosal’s legal chief, Ruth López, “this reform is surely part of the negotiation that the government has with the IMF, which would seem unfamiliar and naive to me if it accepts it as a sign of progress when the main problem is in the lack of prosecution of the crimes of corruption committed during the pandemic, in the governmental opacity and especially in the lack of controls over the irregular actions of the Executive as there are no independent fundamental organs ”.

José Marinero, president of the DTJ Foundation agrees with López that “it could be to send a signal to the IMF (in order to appear to have met some condition) or it could be a signal to the United States.”

However, he clarifies that it is not because they have been persuaded of the importance of fighting corruption, otherwise “this government and its imposed prosecutor’s office would be investigating and persecuting those who are profiting from corrupt purchases during the pandemic and who have been indicated in journalistic investigations and in the Engel List, among others ”.

Marinero added that there is an absurd contradiction in the draft modification in the sense that “it seems that the exception is only for immunity, that is, they can be sued, but not for the exemption from liability, that is, even if they are sued and eventually convicted, no responsibility can be attributed to them ”.

He explained that, according to the proposal, the exclusion that the reform seeks to introduce would not include those who participated in acts of corruption in the acquisition of goods and services.

“The reform would not apply to former officials and officials who may have participated in acts of corruption in the acquisition of these goods and services and therefore would continue to be protected by the impunity regime created in the Alabí Law,” he emphasized.

On the other hand, it stated that it would not modify other rules that lead to opacity and impunity in the administration of public purchases related to the pandemic.

Graciela Ayala, a lawyer at Funde-Alac, highlighted that since the “Alabí Law” was born, it caused them surprise because of all that it implies. “Both citizens and the entire State were left defenseless in matters of contracting regarding medical supplies from the pandemic,” he recalled.

“If it is quite true that it may be the IMF’s demands, I start to imagine that within the administration they have already encountered certain vicissitudes regarding this law and that there are third parties that are already applying it and defrauding the State or that they may be winning hires, promising KN95 masks and they’re not really those, ”he reasoned.

In that sense, he stated that “they themselves shielded third parties and could not claim for this type of somewhat fraudulent hiring.”

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