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Algeria’s history has been tumultuous and the country’s legal system is a reflection of its past as well as the present. Rome occupied what is now Algeria for 600 years and implanted Roman law as the law of the land. France established rule over Algeria as a French colony in 1830 and maintained power until the French were forced to leave the country. As a result, the Algerian legal system contains elements of Roman, French and Algerian law. Islamic law also has a strong influence on the legal system in Algeria and is the country’s official religion under the constitution.
Under the Algerian legal system there are three branches of government involved in creating and administering legal matters. The president and his administration implement the law. The Parliment provides civil and criminal legislation for the president’s approval. The country’s courts make up the third branch and render decisions on legal issues.
The courts system contains three levels of judiciary. The Daria tribunal courts hear all civil matters and some criminal cases. Each of the country’s 48 provinces has Wilaya court composed of four chambers with three judge panels to hear lower court appeals and criminal cases. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country’s legal system.
Two noteworthy elements of Algeria’s constitution and rule of law are the Code of the Family and the Law of Associations. The Code of the Family was first introduced in 1984 and integrates Islamic law into the legal system. The Law of Associations was first enacted in 1987 to restrict associations activities, with severe penalties. It has been amended several times to provide greater freedom.