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Judicial Foundation and Legal Codification

The legal system of Djibouti is based on a combination of Islamic law, French Civil Law, and traditional practices.

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Judicial Structure and Court System

At the first level of the judicial hierarchy are five Courts of First Instance, located in each of the five districts. These courts are empowered to hear only civil cases. The Superior Appeals Court hears only criminal cases. Matters involving Muslim personal law are adjudicated by separate qadis, or religious judges, and are governed by Islamic legal principles.

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Judicial Authority and Appointment of Judges

The Constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary. The Ministry of Justice, Muslim, and Penal Affairs and Human Rights has administrative authority over the judiciary. However, in August 2000, the government promulgated a new law on judicial organization, which included the establishment of a National Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, and provided for the separation of the court system from the Ministry of Justice.

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Supreme Court

At the apex of the judicial structure is the Supreme Court, established in 1979, which serves as the final court of appeal.

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Constitutionality of Laws – Judicial Review

The Constitutional Council rules on the constitutionality of laws. Laws are reported through the bi-weekly Journal Officiel de la Republique.

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Judicial Education and Profession

At present, there is no university in Djibouti; students seeking advanced degrees travel abroad. Many law students train in France, for which the government provides limited aid.

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