UPDATE: Republic of Angola Legal System and Research

 

By Paula Rainha

Update by Dunia P. Zongwe

 

Dunia P. Zongwe is an author, an academic and a consultant. He writes and specializes in the areas of international finance and human rights, focusing on Africa. Mr. Zongwe was educated at the University of Namibia, Université de Montréal and Cornell University, where he earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees in law. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Namibia.

 

Paula Rainha graduated from Faculdade de Direito de Lisboa in 2000 and joined the Portuguese Bar Association in 2002. Paula completed an L.LM at King’s College London in 2002-2003 and then practiced as a lawyer at Miranda, Correia, Amendoeira & Associados, the largest law firm operating in Lusophone Africa. During that period Paula followed the African Legal Systems course, with Prof. Armando Marques Guedes at Universidade Nova de Lisboa Law School. Currently Paula works with Thomson Legal & Regulatory in the area of online legal research and training in Southern Europe and Africa.

 

Published April 2016

See the Archive Version!

 

Table of Contents

1.     Angola’s Recent History

2.     Country Profile

2.1. Angola in General

2.2.  The Angolan Economy

3.     Introduction to Angola’s Legal System

3.1. Angola’s Legal System and Research

3.2.   The Angolan Constitution

3.2.1.     Fundamental Principles

3.2.2.     Fundamental Rights and Duties

4.     Angola’s Legal System       

4.1. The Political System

4.1.1.      The Executive Branch

4.1.1.1. The President

4.1.1.2. The Council of Ministers

4.1.2.     The Legislative Branch

4.1.2.1. National Assembly

4.1.2.2. The Legislative Powers of the Government

4.2.  The Judiciary

4.2.1.     The Institutions

4.2.1.1. The High Council of the Judicial Bench

4.2.1.2. The Courts

4.2.1.3. Public Defense and Justices of the Peace

4.2.1.4. The Ombudsman

4.2.2.     The Higher Courts

4.2.2.1. The Constitutional Court

4.2.2.2. The Supreme Court

4.2.2.3. The Supreme Military Court

4.2.2.4. The Court of Auditors

4.2.3.     Public Prosecutors

4.2.3.1. The Office of the Attorney General

4.2.3.2. The Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office

4.2.3.3. The Public Prosecutor’s Office

4.2.3.4. The Military Prosecutor’s Office

5.     Legal Sources

5.1. Primary Sources

5.1.1.      Legislation

5.1.2.     Custom

5.2.  Secondary Sources

5.2.1.     Books about Angola

5.2.2.     Journals about Angola

5.2.3.     News Sources about Angola

6.     Other Resources

6.1. Online Bookshops/Major Publishers (Portuguese)

6.2.  Online Bookshops/Major Publishers (English)

6.3.  Online Library Catalogues (Portuguese)

7.     Legal Education

8.     Legal Profession

9.     Research Centers (Outside Angola)

 

Explanatory Note: For the purposes of understanding Angola’s legal system, it is very important to take a close look at its geography, ethno-linguistic groups, and at the role of foreign actors and external factors in the shaping of Angola’s history. Only then can one perceive the huge challenges posed by the task of state-building and enforcing the rule of law in such a vast and diverse territory. Therefore, the first two sections give a very brief overview of Angola’s recent history and country profile, with links to further information. Section III and Section IV deal with Angola’s legal system and research.

 

1. Angola’s Recent History

Located in the west coast of southern Africa, Angola was under Portuguese colonial rule until November 11, 1975 when it became an independent nation. Quite symbolically the first Constitutional Law of Angola is dated November 10, 1975.

 

Three main political nationalist groups fought the Portuguese settlers, namely the MPLA [Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola)], the FNLA [Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (National Front for the Liberation of Angola)], and UNITA [União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola)]. Already before Independence, these three groups were fighting among themselves for the control of the country. After Independence, with the departure of the common Portuguese enemy, the three liberation movements went straight into civil war.

 

In 1976 the United Nations (UN) admitted Angola as one of its members, thereby recognizing the MPLA government as legitimate. Since the MPLA was supported by the communist block (i.e. the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Cuba), the United States of America (USA) abstained from voting the Security Council decision that put forward Angola’s membership for admission by the UN.

 

The years to follow were bloodied by violent war between MPLA and UNITA over the control of different parts of the country. This war was fuelled by the Cold War divide between the USA and the former USSR. The USA together with the People’s Republic of China and South Africa supported the then rebel groups FNLA/UNITA whilst the USSR and its allies supported the MPLA.

 

The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the imminent implosion of the Soviet bloc would be a turning point in Angola’s history: The country could finally start moving towards democratization.

 

In 1990 UNITA recognized José Eduardo dos Santos from MPLA as the President of Angola. In 1991 a new constitution and a new law allowing the creation of new political parties were approved (Law 12 of 1991 (6 May 1991) approving changes to the Constitution and Law 15 of 1991 (11 May 1991).

 

In the end of May of 1991 the Bicesse Accords tried to put an end to 16 years of war and scheduled presidential elections for 1992. In 1992 the MPLA won the elections but UNITA rejected the elections’ results. The country plummeted again into war.

 

In the aftermath of the contested democratic presidential elections Angola’s National Assembly approved the 1992 amendments to the Constitution. In 1994 the Lusaka Protocol tried again to bring peace to the country. It was to no avail, unfortunately, as UNITA kept on expanding its presence throughout the country and building up its military force.

 

The war – which had claimed up to 1.5 million lives – only ended in 2002, with the death of UNITA’s leader, Jonas Savimbi. After a quarter century of conflict, the warring parties signed the Luena Memorandum of Understanding, which provided for the conversion of UNITA into a non-armed political party. The MPLA went on to consolidate its power and launched a national reconstruction program. A new Constitution was adopted on February 5th, 2010.

 

2. Country Profile

 

2.1. Angola in General

Angola (country profile) extends over an area of 1,246,700 km2 bordering Congo-Brazzaville to the north east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaïre) to the north and east, Zambia to the east, and Namibia to the south.

 

Angola is organized territorially into provinces and, further, into municipalities. It is divided in 18 provinces (Bengo, Benguela, Bie, Cabinda, Cuando-Cubango, Cuanza Norte, Cuanza Sul, Cunene, Huambo, Huila, Luanda, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Malanje, Moxico, Namibe, Uige, Zaire). Luanda is the capital of Angola, and the President of the Republic is José Eduardo Dos Santos, who has been ruling the country since 1979.

 

The main ethno-linguistic groups are Ovimbundu and Mbundo, Kimbundu, Bakongo, Lunda-Chokwe and Ngangela. Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, Tchokwe and Ovambo are national languages whereas Portuguese is the official language in Angola. The country’s capital is Luanda,

 

The legal system of Angola belongs to the civil law tradition. It is based on Angolan customary laws and Portuguese civil law. Angola is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) and the Community of Portuguese speaking countries (CPLP).

 

There are plenty of informative and up-to-date websites in English and Portuguese with Angola’s country profiles, general information, documents and papers on a variety of topics:

 

 

2.2. The Angolan Economy

Angola is Africa’s six largest economy after Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Algeria. It is a vast country endowed with a wealth of natural resources. It presents one of the greatest economic potential in Africa despite the sharp fall in oil prices and net investment inflows that the country has witnessed lately. Nonetheless, the country faces tremendous governance challenges. It is also a place where it is not easy to do business.

 

An upper middle-income country, Angola is part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and, since November 1996, a member of the World Trade Organization. The major industries in Angola are petroleum; diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, feldspar, bauxite, uranium and gold; cement; basic metal products; fish processing; food processing, brewing, tobacco products, sugar; textiles; and ship repair. A member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since 2006, Angola is Africa’s second largest oil exporter after Nigeria. Angola also exports natural gas, diamonds, coffee, fish products, timber and cotton.

 

Following the end of its 27-year long civil war in 2002, Angola embarked on a nationwide reconstruction program that led to a construction boom, high growth rates in agriculture and the resettlement of Angolans displaced by the war. The construction boom was fuelled by billions of US dollars in credit lines granted by several creditors, especially by China. Thanks to high oil prices and the ensuing higher level of oil production, the Angolan economy hummed along at healthy double digit growth rates between 2004 and 2008. As a result, poverty was reduced from 54 percent in 2000 to 43 percent in 2008, although inequality increased.[1]

 

However, since 2014, Angola’s oil-dependent economy experienced slow growth as oil prices dropped. The drop in oil prices is adversely impacting the economy, causing dramatic declines in fiscal revenue and exports.[2] In spite of depressed oil prices and the ensuing sluggishness, the country’s economic trajectory is still positive.

 

3. Introduction to Angola’s Legal System

 

3.1. Angola’s Legal System and Research

In colonial times Portuguese law applied in Angola although the traditional customary law was in many cases tolerated or tacitly accepted. (A summary of this aspect of the Angolan legal system can be found in Narana Coissoro, African Customary Law in the Former Portuguese Territories, 1954-1974, 28 J. Afr. L 72 (1984).)

 

After independence came, Angola rushed to repeal the old colonial laws. However, in order to prevent a legal void, article 84 of the first constitutional law of Angola guaranteed that the Portuguese laws and regulations in force at the time would remain applicable until revoked or amended and insofar as they did not go against the new Angolan Constitution and the revolutionary process in course under way.

 

What followed Angola’s independence from Portugal were 26 years of war and more than 30 years of restless legislative activity in a constant attempt to extend state authority from Luanda to the entire country and its population.

 

The Angolan legislator took the Portuguese legal system as a model when structuring its own. This was a natural option due to enduring colonial ties between the two countries and the sharing of a common language and legal education. However, even if the similarities are quite significant, today’s Portuguese and Angolan legal systems are not the same.

 

Despite the huge legislative production of the last 40 years the road built so far seems rather patchy and unfinished. Quite understandably so, if one considers Angola’s history in detail. It is nonetheless not easy to get hold of historical information and current Angolan legislation (even in the original language) and keep up with amendments and changes.

 

Angola follows the civil-law tradition (at least the formal legal system). Legislation is the primary source of law. Courts base their judgements on legislation, and there is no binding precedent as understood in common law systems. Therefore, not being able to easily find legislation may indeed be a researcher’s most upsetting hurdle.

 

As to secondary sources, books on Angolan law are in short supply (both in English and Portuguese) but there is a considerably large number of journal articles and studies (mostly in English) available online albeit scattered through dozens of websites. Most of the relevant books and articles are more often classified under non-law subjects (African studies, anthropology, history, human rights, political sciences, sociology, war studies) or a mix of law and non-law subjects rather than strictly under ‘law’ as a subject.

 

A school of thought defends that Angola is not merely a legal system based on civil law, but rather a pluralistic system. The size of the country, the diversity of its people and the many long years of war meant that the Angolan state was never, in practical terms, able to reach and rule the country and the population in their entirety. Therefore, in many areas of the country, traditional customary law still plays an important role, as do local ways of applying state law.

 

3.2. The Angolan Constitution

The Constituent Assembly adopted the Angolan Constitution on January 21, 2010. The Constitution entered into force on February 5th, 2010. The Constitution proclaims that the Constitution is the supreme law of Angola (article 6(1)) and that any laws and conduct can only be valid only if they conform to the Constitution (article 6(3)).

 

The text of the Constitution is divided in eight titles and 244 articles. It also contains three annexes (on the national flag, the national insignia, and the national anthem).

 

3.2.1. Fundamental Principles

As does the 1992 Constitution, the 2010 Constitution too lays down fundamental principles. However, while the 1992 Constitution provided for 17 such principles, the 2010 Constitution formulates 21. The 21 constitutional fundamental principles relate to the state, the nature of politics, political rights, democratic values, constitutionalism, legality, sources of law, economic liberalism, private property, and natural resources.

 

Regarding the Angolan state, the very first article of the Constitution states that Angola “shall be a sovereign and independent Republic, based on the dignity of the individual and the will of Angolan people, whose primary objective shall be the build a free, just, democratic, solidary society of peace, equality and social progress.” The Constitution defines Angola as a unitary (article 8) and secular (article 10) state based on the rule of law and imposes a duty on the state to promote and defend human rights. Article 2(1) lists a number of principles that the Constitution embodies: the rule of law, the sovereignty of the people, the supremacy of the Constitution and the law, the separation of powers and the interdependence of functions, national unity, pluralism of political expression and organization, and representative and participatory democracy.

 

In terms of the Constitution, the fundamental tasks of the state are to guarantee national independence, territorial integrity and national sovereignty; ensure fundamental rights, freedoms and guarantees; gradually create the necessary conditions required to effectively implement the economic, social and cultural rights of Angolan citizens; promote the well-being, social solidarity and improved quality of life for Angolans, especially the most deprived social groups; and to promote equality, the eradication of poverty, universal and free primary health care, and universal access to free compulsory education.

 

The Constitution recognizes political rights. It first declares that sovereignty lies with the people, who must exercise it through universal, free, equal, direct, secret and periodic suffrage in order to choose their representatives (article 3(1)). It then provides that political power can only be exercised by whoever obtains it legally through free democratic elections (article 4(1)) and prohibits the appropriation and exercise of power by unconstitutional means (article 4(2)).

 

Like many civil-law countries, Angola’s status as a monist state is confirmed by the 2010 Constitution. Article 13 provides that international law forms an integral part of the Angolan legal system and that duly approved or ratified international treaties and agreements come into force after they have been officially published.

 

Private property and free initiative are also fundamental principles embraced by the Angolan Constitution. Article 14 obliges the state to respect and protect the private property of individuals and corporations, and the conduct of free economic and entrepreneurial activities. What is more, the Constitution has elevated free economic initiatives to a fundamental right (article 38).

 

Through the Constitution, Angola asserts its sovereignty over natural resources. While article 16 expressly declares that natural resources are the property of the state, article 3(2) lays down that the state has sovereignty over all Angolan territory, which includes its land, interior and territorial waters, air space, soil and sub-soil, seafloor and associated sea beds. Article 3(3) extends that sovereignty to the conservation, development and use of natural, biological and non-biological resources in the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic area and on the continental shelf.

 

3.2.2. Fundamental Rights and Duties

The Angolan Constitution provides an extensive catalogue of human rights and duties. First, civil and political rights are covered by provisions on various rights, including life (article 30); personal integrity (article 31); physical freedom and personal security (article 36); freedom of expression and information (article 40); freedom of the press (article 44); broadcasting (article 45); freedom to meet and demonstrate (article 47); freedom of association (article 48); freedom to form political associations and political parties (article 55); vote (article 54); participation in public life (articles 52 and 53); identity and privacy (article 32); inviolability of the home (article 33); freedom of conscience, religion and worship (article 41); and freedom of residence, movement and emigration (article 46).

 

Moreover, social, economic and cultural rights are enshrined in provisions protecting family, marriage and filiation (article 35); free economic initiative (article 38); freedom of professional and business association (article 49); trade union freedoms (article 50); strikes and prohibition of lock-outs (article 51); intellectual property (article 42); and freedom of cultural and scientific creation (article 43).

 

4. Angola’s Legal System

 

4.1. The Political System

The text of the 1991 Constitution and amended by Law 23/92 of 25 August 1992 (), aimed at reflecting the “prevailing reality” resulting from the important social, political and economic changes occurring in Angola in the 80s to the 90s, and at fostering and regulating those changes. The 1992 revision was made following the first multiparty elections, and it intended to clarify “the political system, the separation of powers and the interdependence of sovereign bodies”, outlining the essential principles of the political system so that the newly elected sovereign bodies could build a democratic state based on the rule of law.

 

The Constitution declares Angola a multiparty democracy with a presidential regime. According to article 105 of the Constitution, the sovereign bodies in Angola are the President of the Republic, the National Assembly, and the Courts, which are separated but interdependent.

 

4.1.1. The Executive Branch

In terms of the Constitution, executive power directly rests with the President (article 108) and indirectly with his auxiliaries, namely the Vice-President (article 131), the Council of Ministers (article 134), the Council of the Republic (article 135), and the National Security Council (article 136). Together, they form the executive.

 

4.1.1.1. The President

Article 108 of the Constitution states that the President is Head of State, the Executive Power, and the Commander-in-Chief of the Angolan Armed Forces. The 2010 Constitution changed the rules on the election of the President. Where the 1992 Constitution allowed people to directly elect the President, the 2010 Constitution provides that the President of the Republic will be the head of the political parties or coalition of political parties who holds the majority of seats in Parliament. The President so elected serves a five-year term and may be eligible for a second consecutive term (article 113).

 

However José Eduardo dos Santos has been Angola’s President for 37 consecutive years. President Dos Santos was originally elected without opposition under a one-party system in September 1979 and then won Angola’s first multiparty elections in 1992. The last elections were held in 2012.

 

The Constitution gives the President vast powers, which have been actually extended even further. Angola could therefore be considered to have a strong presidential system. As stated in article 66, the President shall have the following powers over the other sovereign bodies:

 

a)    appointing the Vice-President of the Republic, from amongst the individuals on the respective election list, and discharging them from office;

b)    calling general and local elections, and referenda;

c)     addressing the National Assembly;

d)    in conjunction with the Constitutional Court, promoting the prior and ongoing review of the constitutionality of legislation and international treaties, as well as unconstitutional omissions;

e)     appointing and discharging from office Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and other senior civil servants;

f)     appointing judges of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Court of Auditors, the Supreme Military Court, on the recommendation of the High Council of the Judicial Bench;

g)    appointing and discharging from office the Attorney General and his or her deputies, the military prosecutors of the Supreme Military Court, on the recommendation of Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office

h)    appointing and discharging from office the Governor and Deputy Governors of the National Bank of Angola;

i)     appointing and discharging from office Provincial Governors and Deputy Governors;

j)      declaring a state of war and making peace, in consultation with the National Assembly;

k)    pardoning offences or commuting sentences;

l)     declaring a state of siege or a state of emergency, in consultation with the National Assembly;

m)  enacting and ordering the publication of the Constitution, constitutional revision laws and laws of the National Assembly;

n)    presiding over the Council of the Republic; and

o)     appointing members of the Supreme Judicial Council, the Council of the Republic and the National Security Council.

 

The President has a consultative body called Conselho da República (Council of the Republic), at which he presides. This body advises the President in very specific situations such as the dissolution of the National Assembly, discharging the Government, making a declaration of war, etc. (article 135 of the Constitution).

 

The President also presides over the Council of Ministers (article 134 of the Constitution).

 

4.1.1.2. The Council of Ministers

The structure, composition and activities of the Council of Ministers are provided for in the Constitution. The Council is composed by the Vice-President and the Ministers. The Cabinet (Vice President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers) is called Conselho de Ministros (Council of Ministers).

 

The President convenes the Council of Ministers and sets its agenda. The Council of Ministers have their own websites, although there is not much information or documentation available yet. Below is the list of Angola’s ministries, with a link to their respective websites. Most of the websites are still under construction, some already have information and documents available, although none is exhaustive or up to date. The best way to get hold of specific materials is by contacting the individual ministries by telephone or e-mail.

 

Agriculture and Rural Development

Tel: +244 222 323 857

+244222 323 859

geral@minagri.gov.ao

Ministério da Agricultura e do Desenvolvimento Rural

Commerce

Tel: +244 222 311 191 / +244 222 338 737

geral@minco.gov.ao

Ministério do Comércio

Culture

Tel: +244 222 32 20 70 / +244 228 74 01 15

geral@mincult.gov.ao

Ministério da Cultura

Defence

Tel: +244 222 441 130

geral@minden.gov.ao

Ministério da Defesa Nacional

Education

Tel: +244 222 321 236

geral@med.gov.ao

Ministério da Educação

Energy and Water

Tel: +244 222 430 576/ 244 222 430 602

geral@minea.gov.ao

Ministério da Energia e Águas

Family and Promotion of Women

Tel: +244 222 311 171

geral@minfamu.gov.ao

Ministério da Família e Promoção da Mulher

Fisheries

Tel: +244 222 311 420 / +244 222 311 140

geral@minpescas.gov.ao

Ministério das Pescas

Foreign Affairs

Tel: +244 222 394 827

geral@mirex.gov.ao

Ministério das Relações Exteriores

War Veterans

Tel: +244 222 321 648

geral@macvg.gov.ao

Ministério dos Antigos Combatentes e Veteranos de Guerra

Finance

Tel: +244 222 336 095

gci@minfin.gv.ao

Ministério das Finanças

Geology and Mines

Tel: +244 222 321 655

geral@mgm.gov.ao

Ministério da Geologia e Minas

Health

Tel: +244 222 391 641

geral@minsa.gov.ao

Ministério da Saúde

Hotels and Tourism

Tel: +244 222 311 448

geral@minhotur.gov.ao

Ministério da Hotelaria e Turismo

Industry

Tel: +244 222 332 971

geral@mind.gov.ao

Ministério da Indústria

Interior

Tel: +244 222 335 976

geral@minint.gov.ao

Ministério do Interior

Justice and Human Rights

Tel: +244 222 336 045

geral@minjusdh.gov.ao

Ministério da Justiça e Direitos Humanos

Petroleum

Tel: +244 222 337 448

geral@minpet.gov.ao

Ministério dos Petróleos

Planning

Tel: +244 222 390 188 / +244 222 332 731

Ministério do Planeamento e Desenvolvimento Territorial

Telecommunications and Information Technology

Tel: +244 222 310 164

geral@mtti.gov.ao

Ministério das Telecomunicações e Tecnologias de Informação

Public Administration, Work and Social Security

Tel: +244 222 399 506

Ministério da Administração Pública, Trabalho e Segurança Social

Public Works

Tel: +244 222 398 749

geral@mincons.gov.ao

Ministerio da Construção

Science and Technology

Tel: +244 222 330 218

geral@mincit.gov.a

Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia

Social Assistance Re-integration

Tel: +244 222 440 370

geral@minars.gov.ao

Ministério da Assistência e Reinserção Social

Social Communication

geral@mcs.gov.ao

Ministério da Comunicação Social

Territorial Administration

Tel: +244 222705090 or +244 992731273

geral@mat.gov.ao

Ministério da Administração do Território

Transport

Tel: +244 222 311 800

geral@mintrans.gov.ao

Ministério dos Transportes

Urban Development and Housing

Ministério do Urbanismo e Habitação

Youth and Sports

Tel: +244 222 443 521 / +244 222 443 781

geral@minjud.gov.ao

Ministério de Juventude e Desportos

 

There are 18 provincial governments, and below are the links to their respective websites, which are all under construction.

 

4.1.2. Legislative Branch

 

4.1.2.1. National Assembly

The Assembleia Nacional (National Assembly) is a unicameral parliament with 220 seats. Of this total, 130 are elected from closed lists by proportional representation and the remaining 90 are elected in 18 five-seat constituencies. Members are elected to serve four-year terms. The last legislative elections were held in August 2012.

 

The National Assembly is Angola’s main legislative body, having the power to approve laws on all matters (except those reserved by the Constitution to the Government) by simple majority (except if otherwise provided in the Constitution). Each legislature comprises four legislative sessions of twelve months, starting on 15 October each year.

 

National Assembly members, parliamentary groups and the Government hold the power to put forward all draft legislation. No entity can however present draft laws that involve an increase in the expenditure or decrease in the state revenue, established in the annual budget.

The Constitution determines the areas in which only the Assembly can pass legislation (articles 161 and 164) and all other areas in which the Assembly can delegate its legislative powers to the Government (article 165).

 

The National Assembly also approves international treaties on matters within its exclusive legislative powers, as well as peace treaties, Angola's participation in international organizations, fixing borders, friendship, defence, military matters and any other matters put forward by the Government (article 161(k) of the Constitution).

 

4.1.2.2. The Legislative Powers of the Government

As stated above, also the Government has legislative powers. These are directly and specifically set in the Constitution (e.g. article 111(1)(a) or 11(2) may result from delegation by the National Assembly (articles 88(c)), 90 and 91 of the Constitution).

 

The President promulgates laws approved by the Assembly and signs Government decrees, which need to have been previously signed by the Prime Minister (article 66 s) of the Constitution). 

 

4.2. The Judiciary

On 31 January 2005, a Presidential Dispatch created a work group that is currently putting together a new legal framework for the whole judiciary.

 

The Constitution devotes an entire section to the country’s court structure (Chapter 4, Title IV, article 174 to article 197). The main laws that regulate the judiciary are Law 18/88, Law 20/88 of 31 December and Decree 27/90 of 3 September 1990, which lay down the framework of the Sistema Unificado de Justica (Unified Justice System).

 

4.2.1. The Institutions

 

4.2.1.1. The High Council of the Judicial Bench

The High Council of the Judicial Bench is the supreme body responsible for managing and disciplining the judicial bench. The Council is largely instrumental in the appointment and evaluation of judges. More specifically, it is responsible for evaluating the professional ability of judges and taking disciplinary action against them; recommending judges for appointment to the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court; and ordering investigations, inspections and inquiries into the legal services and putting forward recommendations on how to improve those services.

 

4.2.1.2. The Courts

Courts play a pivotal role in the administration of justice. Article 174 provides that the courts are independent sovereign bodies who administer justice on behalf of the people. They are responsible for ruling on conflicts of public or private interests, ensuring the defence of rights and interests protected by law and repressing any violations of the democratic rule of law. Furthermore, article 175 provides that the courts shall be independent and impartial, and subject only to the Constitution and the law.

 

4.2.1.3. Public Defense and Justices of the Peace

The state is obliged in terms of the Constitution to make sure that mechanisms for public defense are available for indigent litigants, with a view to providing legal aid and official legal representation. As for justices of the peace, their obligation is to resolve minor social conflicts.

 

4.2.1.4. The Ombudsman

The Ombudsman is an independent public body whose mandate is to defend the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens, ensuring – by informal means – administrative justice. Any person may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman concerning acts or omissions by public authorities. Public authorities have an obligation to cooperate with the Ombudsman. Each year, the Ombudsman is required to draw up a report on the main complaints received and its recommendations to the National Assembly and forward them to relevant bodies endowed with state power. The Ombudsman and his or her deputy are elected by the National Assembly by a two-third majority of its members. They are sworn in by the President of the Republic.

 

4.2.2. The Higher Courts

According to the Constitution there shall be the following high courts in Angola:

 

4.2.2.1. The Constitutional Court

This Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) was established in 2008. It is responsible for the administration of justice in legal and constitutional matters, under the terms of the Constitution and the law (article 180 of the Constitution). Appointed in 2008 by the President of the Republic, Rui Ferreira is the President of the Constitutional Court.

 

4.2.2.2. The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is called Tribunal Supremo. It is the senior body in common jurisdiction. Based in Luanda, it has national jurisdiction. It is composed by the President, Vice-President and a minimum of 16 judges appointed by the President. The President of the Republic appoints Supreme Court judges on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council, following the competitive submission of curricula by judges, public prosecutors and jurists of recognized merit. The Angolan President appointed in 2014 Manuel Miguel da Costa Aragão as President of the Supreme Court.

 

The Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction in a number of matters and appellate jurisdiction in appeals emanating from provincial court decisions in general and municipal court decisions in criminal matters.

 

4.2.2.3. The Supreme Military Court

The Supreme Military Court is the highest court within the hierarchy of military courts. The President Judge and his or her deputy, the other members of the Supreme Military Court are appointed by the President of the Republic from amongst the military judges.

 

4.2.2.4. The Court of Auditors

The Court of Auditors is the supreme body responsible for overseeing the legality of public finances and auditing public accounts submitted to it.

 

4.2.3. Public Prosecutors

 

4.2.3.1. The Office of the Attorney General

The principal duty of the Office of the Attorney General is to represent the state, especially in conducting criminal prosecutions. The Office of the Attorney General (Procuradoria-Geral da República) also has to duty to defend the legality of the exercise of judicial functions, oversee procedural regularity in courts, and defend the rights of individuals and corporations. The Office enjoys both administrative and financial autonomy in terms of the Constitution. Each year, it must draw up and submit a report on its work to the National Assembly and other state institutions. João Maria de Sousa holds the office of the Attorney General of Angola.

 

The Office of the Attorney General is composed of three essential bodies, namely the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Military Prosecutor’s Office. The Attorney General and his or her deputies are appointed for a five-year term, renewable once, by the President of the Republic on recommendation by the Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

 

4.2.3.2. The Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office

The Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office is in charge of the management and regulation of the public prosecutors. The Council assesses, appoints, transfers and promotes public prosecutors. Another responsibility of the Council consists in taking disciplinary measures against public prosecutors guilty of misconduct.

 

The Council is composed of deputy attorneys general, public prosecutors elected by their peers, members elected by the President of the Republic and those elected by the National Assembly. Members of the Council are elected for five-year terms, renewable once. The Attorney General presides over the Council.

 

4.2.3.3. The Public Prosecutor’s Office

The Public Prosecutor’s Office performs the judicial function of the state, and, as such, it is an essential body of the Office of the Attorney General. The Prosecutor’s Office is primarily responsible for representing the state before the courts in criminal cases. Deputy Attorneys General are in turn responsible for representing the Public Prosecutor’s Office before the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, Court of Auditors and other high courts. The Prosecutor’s Office is required by the Constitution to be accountable and autonomous, dictated by the principles of legality and objectivity.

 

4.2.3.4. The Military Prosecutor’s Office

The Military Prosecutor’s Office is the organ of the Office of the Attorney General that controls and oversees the legality within the Angolan Armed Forces, the National Police Force, and security agencies.

 

5. Legal Sources

Initially, Angola used both the Commercial and Criminal Code from the 19th century Portugal. Just like in Portugal most of the Commercial Code is no longer in force and has been replaced by a number of un-codified/loose acts in corporate and commercial matters. (Some can be found in the Ministry of Commerce website) There is a draft Criminal Code expected to be soon approved by the Angolan parliament.

 

The only place where one can find cases in print is the Supreme Court or the Bar Association. These are not very important in many civil-law legal systems. In law school, students do not study cases, just legislation and secondary sources about legislation. Cases are only mentioned occasionally.

 

5.1. Primary Sources

 

5.1.1. Legislation

Draft laws produced by the members of the National Assembly, parliamentary groups or the Government are sent to the President of the National Assembly, together with a detailed motivation.

 

The President of the National Assembly sends draft laws to the relevant parliamentary commission for an opinion. As soon as this opinion is released, the draft laws are included in the National Assembly’s agenda to be discussed, possibly amended and finally approved (or rejected) in the next plenary meeting.

 

Any draft law that has been definitively rejected cannot be assessed in the same legislative session unless there is a new election of the National Assembly. Government decrees resulting from an authorization of the National Assembly can still be scrutinized by the latter for amendments or ratification. These Government decrees are automatically ratified in case the National Assembly does not call for changes.

 

After being signed or ratified, laws and decrees are sent for signature and promulgation by the President, who within 30 days after receiving them can request a full or partial revision of the text by the National Assembly. If the National Assembly approves the Act by a two-thirds majority, the President is obliged to promulgate the Act within 15 days.

 

After signature and promulgation by the President, all acts are published in Series I of the Official Gazette. The types of Acts published are:

 

·       Constitutional laws

·       Laws and resolutions enacted by the National Assembly

·       Presidential decrees and dispatches

·       Decree-laws, decrees and resolutions of the Council of Ministers

·       Executive decrees and ministerial dispatches, when of legislative nature

 

The date of the Acts is the date of publication in the Official Gazette (Diario da Republica de Angola) The Acts can only come into force after that date. In case the law does not expressly state a start date it is understood that laws enter into force in Luanda Province four days after publication, in other Provinces 15 days after publication and abroad 30 days after publication.

 

All Acts published in Series I of the Official Gazette have the following citation format:

 

·       Type (law, decree etc.)

·       number (each type of Act has an annual independent numbering)

·       year (two digit format)

·       date (day and month)

·       short description

 

Here is an example of legislative citation: Lei 12/91 de 6 de Maio de 1991–Aprova as alterações a Lei Constitucional.

 

Angola’s official website can be useful. It may also be useful to contact the relevant ministries directly in order to get hold of legislation in their respective areas of competence.

 

The Angolan Bar Association offers a database containing the scanned copies of Series I of the Angolan National Gazette from 1975 to the current issue. The best way to proceed is to contact the Angolan Bar Association by e-mail or telephone and ask for guidance on how to gain access to specific pieces of legislation:

 

Ordem dos Advogados de Angola

Avenida Ho Chi Min (Edifício da Direcção Nacional de Estatística)

Luanda - República de Angola

Tel. +244 222 326 330

Fax: +244 222 322 777

Email: ordemadvogadosangola@netangola.com

 

There is also a project called Legis-Palop funded by the program EuropeAid to help in the creation of online databases with legislation and cases for the 5 Lusophone countries: Angola, Cabo Verde, Guiné Bissau, Moçambique e São Tomé e Príncipe.

 

Some websites contain Angolan laws in the fields of finance, foreign exchange and foreign investment. In any case one should verify if the legislation published in such websites is current. Below are some examples:

 

 

5.1.2. Custom

It was arguable that customary law (‘custom’) was a source of law in Angola during colonial times and it still is today, despite the most recent studies in this area pointing in the direction of legal pluralism. Unlike the 1992 Constitution, the 2010 Constitution recognizes ‘custom’ insofar as it does not contradict the Constitution or threaten human dignity.

 

5.1.3. Cases

Angola is a civil-law jurisdiction where legislation is naturally the primary source of law. Therefore cases do not have the binding authority in common-law systems; they are not considered a source of law.

 

The landmark cases are decided by the Tribunal Supremo is the country’s highest court. Before the coming into existence of the Constitutional Court in 2008, the Supreme Court exercised the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court in addition to its own jurisdiction. Although the Tribunal Supremo has a website with a section on cases that it decided, the cases are not yet available.

 

The contact details of the court are:

 

Tribunal Supremo de Angola

Morada Rua 17 de Setembro

Localidade Palácio da Justiça - Luanda

Tel.: + 244 222 339 079

E-mail: geral@tribunalsupremo.ao

 

The Angolan Bar Association library has started compiling Supreme Court cases in late 2006. Their contact details are:

 

Ordem dos Advogados de Angola

Avenida Ho Chi Minh, (Edifício da Estatística Nacional, 1º Andar), Luanda

Tel.: +244 222 326330 / 222 354980/ 222 322777

E-mail: info@oaang.org

 

5.2. Secondary Sources

 

5.2.1. Books about Angola

Since there is not a great deal of books dealing with the Angolan legal system, the following section indicates books published in Portuguese and in English about different topics pertaining to Angola.

 

Notwithstanding the attempt to point out the most recent legal publications, some of them may be partially outdated due to changes in the Angolan legal system that occurred after their publication.

 

This section equally includes books that cannot fit into the topic “Law” but that may be considered to be of interest when researching the Angolan legal system.

 

In the case of books in Portuguese, the ISBN is indicated in order to help researchers finding them in library catalogues.  

 

Books in Portuguese:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Code of Civil Procedure: Additional Legislation]

 

[Code of Criminal Procedure and Additional Legislation]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·       Medina, Maria do Carmo – Código da Família Anotado, Luanda: Faculdade de Direito da UAN, 1998; [Annotated Family Code]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books in English:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.2.2. Journals about Angola

Searching the word ‘Angola’ in journals included in an online database such as Westlaw can be a starting point, as it brings out thousands of articles. Also, some of the libraries indicated below in points 6.3. and 9 of this guide catalogue journal articles about Angola.

 

5.2.3. News Sources about Angola

News about Angola can be found in the Angolan Press Agency and in Journal de Angola. Other places that may be worth a visit are Angola’s National Television and National Radio websites. Angola’s embassy in Russia also publishes a newsletter in Portuguese called Angoflash. Three good sources for news in English are the BBC’s Africa section, the New York Times’s Angola Section and IBA’s LegalBrief.

 

6. Other Resources

 

6.1. Online Bookshops / Major Publishers (Portuguese)

In the absence of a prolific Angolan legal publisher, this section gives an indication of some online publishers/bookshops where researchers can find and order books about Angola in Portuguese:

 

 

6.2. Online Bookshops/Major Publishers (English)

This section indicates online bookshops where the English-language publications listed above can be found and the main English-language publishers that have books about Lusophone Africa and Angola:

 

 

6.3. Online Library Catalogues (Portuguese)

The Angolan National Library does not yet have a website or an online catalogue. Therefore, one can only contact the library through a personal visit or by telephone:

 

Angola National Library/Biblioteca Nacional de Angola

Av. Norton de Matos

Caixa Postal 2915

Luanda, Angola

Tel: +244 222 337 317

 

The Angolan Bar Association has a library, although its online searchable catalogue is still under construction.

 

In any case, all of the Portuguese-language books listed above and journal articles listed above can be found in the catalogues of the Portuguese National Library and Portuguese university libraries listed below. They may be available for inter-library loans as well.

 

 

Here are a few examples of Portuguese keywords that can be used to search these catalogues: África, Angola, PALOP, Colónias, Colonização, Colonial, Lusófono, Lusofonia.

 

7. Legal Education

Several law schools exist in Angola. Universidade Agostinho Neto is a state-owned university created in the 1960s. The university library can be of help in the search for local materials. The library may be reached through the switchboard +244 222 311 125 or by e-mail (info@uan.ao).

 

The Universidade Católica de Angola (owned by the Roman Catholic Church) began teaching law in 1998. This university library has got a searchable catalogue and may be helpful in finding local materials. The library may be reached through the switchboard +244 222 010 916 or e-mail library@ucan.edu.

 

Furthermore, the Universidade Gregorio Semedo has some relevant titles under its library catalogue.

 

There are also the Universidade Lusíada de Angola, which began teaching law in 2000, and the Universidade Jean Piaget. The Universidade Lusófona de Angola does not yet have its own website.

 

8. Legal Profession

Founded in 1926, the Bar Association of Portugal never extended to overseas colonies despite demands by lawyers in those territories. On January 6th, 1995, the first Lei da Advocacia (Law 1/95) and, on September 13th, 1996, the Angolan government adopted a law on the Bar Association of Angola and its regulations. It is on September 20, 1996, that the Bar Association of Angola (Ordem dos Advogados de Angola) was eventually created by proclamation at the Congress Palace in the country’s capital, Luanda.

 

As stated in the Bar Association regulations:

 

Advocacy in Angola is a ‘liberal’ profession within an organizational system similar to the one existing in continental Europe and where the regulatory and disciplinary functions fall to the Angolan Bar Association in its capacity as a public professional corporation.

 

Only practicing lawyers and lawyers on probation registered with the Bar Association can undertake consultancy, represent clients and perform other duties in court inherent in the profession throughout the national territory and before any jurisdiction, authority, or public or private body.

 

According to articles 193(3) and 195(1) of the Constitution, the Angolan Bar Association is responsible for regulating access to the legal profession, for regulating the profession and legal representation, and for providing legal aid. The legal practice is said to be an essential institution in the administration of justice. Lawyers are expected to serve justice and the rule of law. The Constitution grants lawyers immunity when performing actions and representing clients in the exercise of their profession.

 

9. Research Centers (Outside Angola)

Many research centers focus on African studies. Below are a few suggestions of Centers that house research projects about Angola and that have very good (and searchable) online library catalogues.

 



[1] International Monetary Fund (IMF), Angola: Staff Report for the 2015 Article IV Consultation 4 (International Monetary Fund 2015).

[2] Id.