Country Listing

Chad Table of Contents


Judicial System

Chad's legal system was based on French civil law, modified according to a variety of traditional and Islamic legal interpretations. In the late 1980s, the civilian and military court systems overlapped at several levels, an effect of Chad's years of warfare (see The Criminal Justice System , ch. 5). Civilian justice often deferred to the military system, and in some areas, military courts--many of which were established by rebel armies during the late 1970s--were the only operating courts. In the 1980s, the government was working to reassert civilian jurisdiction over these areas.

Chad's Supreme Court was abolished following the coup in 1975 and had not been reestablished by 1988. The highest court in the land was the Court of State Security, comprising eight justices, including both civilians and military officers, all appointed by the president. In addition, a court of appeals in N'Djamena reviewed decisions of lower courts, and a special court of justice established in 1984 heard cases involving the misappropriation of public funds.

Criminal courts convened in N'Djamena, Sarh, Moundou, and Abéché, and criminal judges traveled to other towns when necessary. In addition, each of the fourteen prefectures had a magistrate's court, in which civil cases and minor criminal cases were tried. In 1988 forty-three justices of the peace served as courts of first resort in some areas.

Chad also had an unofficial but widely accepted system of Islamic sharia courts in the north and east, which had operated for a century or more. Most cases involved family obligations and religious teachings. In other areas, traditional custom required family elders to mediate disputes involving members of their descent group, i.e., men and women related to them through sons and brothers. Civil courts often considered traditional law and community sentiment in decisions, and the courts sometimes sought the advice of local leaders in considering evidence and rendering verdicts.

Data as of December 1988