UPDATE: The Legal System in Côte d’Ivoire

By Armel Olivier Yapi and Yao Mamoudou Ouattara

Armel Olivier Yapi is a jurist with a background in private law and international human rights law. He is currently working with Indigo Cote d'Ivoire as a project manager and senior research analyst on peacebuilding issues. With almost 10 years of professional experience in several organisations including Amnesty International, the National Institute for Democracy (NDI) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Armel Olivier has developed multidisciplinary skills, particularly in political analysis, election observation and international protection of refugees and internally displaced persons. For him, humanitarian and development work is the greatest gift a person can give to a person in a vulnerable situation.

Yao Mamoudou Ouattara is a jurist specialist in human rights. Project Assistant and Researcher-Facilitator on peacebuilding matters, he has worked in transitional justice as Supervisor with the National Commission for Reconciliation and Compensation of Victims of the Ivorian crises. Furthermore, he has worked in child protection and promotion of children’s rights as an instructor in the Ivorian civil society for the care of children in family difficulties. Permanent consultant member of the scientific committee of Common Action for Sustainable development Côte d’Ivoire (CASD-CI) and National Vice-President of the African Youth Network for the Fight against Money Laundering (RE-J-ABA), Yao Mamoudou Ouattara is convinced that it’s everyone’s effort that can contribute to a sustainable peace in Côte d’Ivoire and continues to provide his skills to the service of his country.

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Published in September/October 2022 | Publié en Septembre/Octobre 2022

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Located in West Africa, Côte d'Ivoire (CI) was discovered in 1888 during an exploration of Treich-Lapleine by a trading company based in La Rochelle.[1] The country became a French protectorate in 1889 and was restructured as a colony in 1893. Its final borders were established by Louis Gustave Binger. In 1899, the territory became part of the French West African Federation (AOF). It was considered an overseas territory staring in 1946. On 28 September 1958, a referendum was held which granted to Cote d’Ivoire the status of a member state of the French community. Although it became a member of the French community in 1958, the Country became independent on 7 August 1960.With an area of 322,464 square km,[2] Cote d'Ivoire is in the western side of sub-Saharan Africa. It is bordered to the north by Mali and Burkina Faso, to the west by Guinea and Liberia and to the east by Ghana. The country enjoys a southern opening to the sea through the Atlantic Ocean, a main route for international maritime trade. The population of Côte d'Ivoire is over 26 million according to the results of the general population and housing census conducted in 2019. It is composed of more than 60 ethnic groups and many dialects linked to larger ethnic communities. The 60 ethnic groups are from diverse origins, mainly Mandé, Voltaic or Gur, Akan and Krou. Before colonisation, all these peoples were governed by their own legal systems based on their habits and customs until the arrival of the French coloniser in 1893. The arrival of the French settler in 1893 greatly upset this customary legal organisation. Thus, the Ivory Coast remained for a long time under French protectorate until the advent of its independence in 1959.Despite its independence, Cote d'Ivoire has co-constructed its legal system under the influence of French norms that are not always in harmony with local realities. This political orientation of the founding fathers of the Cote d’Ivoire has led to much instability and successive political changes to the point where in six decades of independence it has experienced three republics. Two major periods have marked the legal system of Côte d'Ivoire. The colonial period, which was strongly subordinated to the laws of the French colonists, and the post-colonial period, which saw the birth of the first, second and third republics, accentuated by a domestication of French laws. Côte d'Ivoire officially became a French colony by a decree dated 10 March 1893 establishing the colony of Côte d'Ivoire. The applicable colonial law was therefore aimed at consolidating and transferring the civilisation of the coloniser. However, it is not a reproduction of the coloniser's law. Rather, it is a mixture of a European-inspired law and a reformed traditional law. These foundations were plural, i.e., religious, economic, strategic, and ideological for the total degradation of the indigenous peoples.[3] Thus, as M. Hardouin and J.M Duverne, both former French colonial judges, said in their observations on the judicial organisation of the French colonies, "there is nothing special for our colonies in the draft judicial organisation that has been made public".[4]Colonial law then had two branches, namely public and private law. Public law, which was characterised by the transposition of institutions through administrative organisation, was purely a law of domination. A replacement of the organisational system of people by that of the colonist, imposing his vision of what the institutions should be. Private law, on the other hand, was a right of minorities and acculturation. Indeed, during this period, French principles of governance were imposed on local populations and traditional local organisations through pressure to conform to the colonial system. The functioning of the Ivorian territory was thus marked by the French state organisation, which is characterised by the centralisation of the state and a public sector responsible for social management.This centralised system is based on the logic of a representation that establishes the state as the guarantor of the general interest, the sole holder of rationality and legitimacy, and the sole person responsible for economic and social development. The settler and a minority of privileged blacks working in the settler's institutions were deemed worthy of being judged according to the applicable positive law and the rest of the indigenous peoples according to a more traditional law elaborated by the settler, commonly called the code for indigenous people.[5] In this code applicable to all colonies under the French protectorate, we could see the first article which stated:

"Are considered as special offences of indigenous and, as such, liable to the penalties laid down by articles 465 and 466 of the Penal Code, the facts and acts hereinafter determined, namely [...] Neglecting to appear before the administrator or mayor of the commune, after a summons issued by an agent of the administrative authority ... Disrespectful act or offensive words towards a representative or agent of the authority, even outside of his functions ...]

Remarks made in public with the aim of undermining the respect due to authority [...].

Refusal to provide, against reimbursement, at the prices of the tariff established by order of the prefect, food, means of transport or auxiliary agents (night guards, stakesmen, guides) to duly authorised officials or agents. [...]

Habitual negligence in the payment of taxes and in the execution of benefits in kind, failure to comply with the summonses of the collectors when they go to the markets to collect contributions. [...] Infringements of the instructions on the regulation of the registration of weapons. [...] Departure from the territory of the municipality without having previously paid taxes and without being in possession of a travel permit.”

As Yerri Urban, lecturer in public law at the University of the West Indies and author of “L'Indigène dans le droit colonial français 1865-1955”, explains,

“In fact, they had a distinct and inferior status to the French. This inferiority is justified by France's 'civilising mission': the coloniser considers them uncivilised. They were therefore governed by their own nationality law. With this status, the indigenous person benefited from France's diplomatic protection, was not subject to compulsory military service, and could take part in local elections if he or she fulfilled certain conditions, such as having a diploma. Their situation is inferior to that of the French, but also to that of foreigners: the colonised are subject to a discriminatory penal regime, they are subject to forced labour, to collective responsibility, access to school education is limited, they have only partial access to public employment... It is even easier for a foreigner to become French than for an indigenous person.”

It is even easier for a foreigner to become French than for an indigenous person". This legal and judicial discrimination prevailed until the country's independence. This period marked by a homogenisation of rights for the inhabitants of the Ivory Coast was strongly crowned by a transposition of the colonial laws. The first officials of the country at that time adopted French texts without any effort to adapt or harmonise them to the realities, habits, and customs of the people. Nevertheless, in modern legal terms, independence created the State of Côte d'Ivoire. The consequence of this event was the establishment of the legal status of the Ivorian state through Law Nº 60-356 of 3 November 1960 on the Constitution of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, which defined the procedures for the creation of laws and the exercise of power and authority in the independent territory.Alongside the Constitution, Côte d'Ivoire also sought to establish a set of ideals that would characterise the nation. This ideal is reflected on the one hand, in the triptych of the Ivorian motto: "Union-discipline-labour", and on the other hand, in the adoption of the philosophical principle of organisation of society, which is the government of the people by the people, and the choice of democracy, solidarity and development. The supreme principle of the separation of powers were also enshrined during the era of the first and second Republic.However, even though Côte d'Ivoire has been autonomous and sovereign since independence, the effects of colonial conquest have not completely disappeared. For more than half a century, the Ivorian state was administered by the French state, so that Côte d'Ivoire has retained much of the same operating principles as the French state. The Ivorian legal system is based on the Constitution, which is a unilateral act, a by-product of the will of the state from which the entire Ivorian system of laws derives, as well as the rights of all inhabitants and other subjects of law. Due to the country's colonial history, the Ivorian legal system is heavily influenced by the French legal system that prevailed in Côte d'Ivoire until its independence in 1960.This legal system provided all the rules establishing the status of public and private persons and defining the relations between public and private persons. This new constitution, which marked the beginning of the first republic of Côte d'Ivoire, remained in place until 2000. Indeed, since its independence, the country has been led by a single political party, the PDCI. It has undergone major changes in two decades of politico-military instability. See Africa News, Côte d'Ivoire: 1999 - 2010, deux décennies d'instabilité politique (October 29, 2010). First in 1990 with the advent of multiparty politics and in 1999 a military coup after the death of the first president Felix Houphouet Boigny in 1993. After this coup, the military putschists, in their desire to reform the nation, adopted a new constitution on August 1, 2000.Some clauses in this constitution, which were deemed to exclude candidates for the presidential election of that year, led to a series of politico-military crises in the country. First a post-electoral crisis, then a civil war in 2002 and another post-electoral crisis in 2010. See Perspective Monde, Côte d'Ivoire: la crise postélectorale persiste (February 21, 2011). The regime in place in the country since this last electoral crisis opted for another change of constitution which led to the third republic of Côte d'Ivoire with the advent of a new constitution in 2016. It should be noted that these changes of republic have not had much effect on the legal system in place since independence marking the creation of the state of Côte d'Ivoire. The organisation and operating rules of the Ivorian legal system as well as the body of texts currently in force in the Ivorian legal system deserve to be studied under the era of the third republic. In addition to the institutions established by the first and second republic, the third republic saw the birth of new institutions.

2.1. Institutions of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire

The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire has an executive, a legislature, a judiciary, and other institutions that support the system of governance that should be cited for a good breakdown and knowledge of the country's institutions.

2.1.1. The Executive Power

According to Article 53 of the Ivorian constitution of 8 November 2016, the executive is composed of the President of the Republic, the Vice-President, and the Government. The Presidency of the Republic
Dealing with the president of the republic in Articles 54-77, the new constitution, like constitutions of the first and second republics, make the president of the republic the head of state. He is the exclusive holder of executive power, as stipulated in Article 63 of the new Constitution. He embodies national unity. He ensures that the Constitution is respected. He ensures the continuity of the State. He is the guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity, and respect for international commitments.He is elected for five years by direct universal suffrage. He may be re-elected only once. He chooses a Vice-President of the Republic whom he appoints by presidential decree. In the event of a vacancy in the Presidency of the Republic due to the death, resignation or absolute impediment of the President of the Republic, the Vice-President of the Republic becomes, by right, President of the Republic. Before taking office, he or she shall take the oath before the Constitutional Council, meeting in formal audience.The duties of the new President cease on the expiry of the current presidential term. The President of the Republic shall determine and conduct the policy of the Nation. He shall ensure the execution of laws and court decisions. He shall issue regulations applicable to the entire territory of the Republic. He has the right to grant pardons. The President of the Republic is the Head of the administration and appoints to civil and military posts. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. He presides over the Councils, the Defence and Security Committees.[6] The President of the Republic may, by decree, delegate some of his powers to the Vice-President of the Republic, to the Prime Minister and to other members of the Government who are acting in his place. This delegation of power must be limited in time and relate to a specific matter or object.The powers of the President of the Republic are numerous. Thus, Article 63 of the Constitution makes the President of the Republic the exclusive holder of executive power. In this respect, he determines and conducts the policy of the nation (Article 64 of the Constitution); he appoints the ministers, determines their powers, and chairs the Council of Ministers (Article 70 of the Constitution). Furthermore, the President of the Republic is the head of the administration. In this respect, he appoints civil and military posts (Article 67 of the Constitution). In addition, under the terms of Article 54 of the Constitution, the President of the Republic is the Head of State; he embodies national unity and ensures respect for the Constitution; he ensures the continuity of the State and is the guarantor of national independence, territorial integrity, and respect for international commitments.In legislative matters, the President of the Republic initiates laws (Article 74 of the Constitution), and he promulgates laws. In constituent matters, the President of the Republic has the initiative to revise the constitution (Article 177 of the Constitution). Article 73 of the Constitution also gives him exceptional powers to exercise a "temporary dictatorship" in that he concentrates all powers (executive, legislative and even judicial) in his hands. Finally, at the international level, the President of the Republic negotiates and ratifies international treaties and agreements (Article 119 of the Constitution). In addition, the President of the Republic accredits ambassadors and extraordinary envoys to foreign powers (Article 69 of the Constitution). The Vice-Presidency
The establishment of the vice-presidency is one of the two major innovations in terms of the institutions of the third republic. Under the terms of Article 55(2), the president of the republic chooses a vice president whom he appoints. The latter acts on delegation of the president of the republic and ensures his interim in case of displacement of the latter outside the country. In the event of death, resignation or absolute impediment of the vice-president, Article 62 gives the president the right to appoint another vice-president of his choice. Thus, in the event of a vacancy in the presidency of the republic of any kind according to the conditions of vacancy set out in Article 62 of the constitution, namely by death, resignation or absolute impediment, the vice-president becomes by right the president of the republic after having taken the oath before the constitutional council.Let us recall that in the 1st and 2nd republics this privilege was given to the president of the National Assembly who, like the president of the republic, is an elected representative of the people. The vice-president who has become president ensures the continuity of the state under the current term of office, however, he or she cannot appoint or terminate the mandate of the prime minister and other ministers, nor can he take the initiative to revise the constitution.[7] In all three cases, the new President takes the oath and cannot make use of Articles 70, 75 paragraph 1 and 177 which give the elected President the power to appoint, dissolve the government, organise referendums on issues deemed useful and decide on the revision of the constitution.These prohibitions are new and are intended to oblige the Vice President to continue in the footsteps of the former President without changing the existing arrangements. He must complete the current term. In the old version of Article 62, these provisions did not exist.[8] In any case, the appointment of a vice-president to replace a resigning, deceased or incapacitated person puts the country in the hands of a president here at the will of a single individual. Just as the death, resignation or absolute impediment of the vice-president who has become president makes the prime minister the president under the same conditions as the vice-president. The Prime Minister and Other Members of the Government
The President of the Republic appoints a Prime Minister as Head of Government;[9] he/she terminates his/her office. On the proposal of the Prime Minister, the President of the Republic appoints the other ministers, and terminates their functions. The Prime Minister leads and coordinates the action of the government, presides over the government council as well as the preparatory meetings of the council of ministers. He replaces the President of the Republic when the latter and the Vice-President are away from the national territory. He also proposes the ministers who make up the government. The Prime Minister and the ministers are jointly responsible to the President of the Republic. The resignation of the Prime Minister, Head of Government, entails the resignation of the entire Government.[10]In addition, like the Prime Minister, the other members of the government are appointed by the President of the Republic. But the appointment is made on the proposal of the Prime Minister. It is also the Prime Minister who proposes the dismissal of ministers to the President of the Republic. The powers of the ministers are determined by the President of the Republic. As members of the government, ministers are liable before the High Court of Justice for qualified acts, crimes, or offences in the exercise of their functions.[11]

2.1.2. The Legislative Power

Legislative power is exercised by the parliament, which in turn is composed of two institutions, the National Assembly, and the Senate.[12] The legislative power is now exercised by these two chambers which share this power. The National Assembly
The National Assembly is composed of members who bear the title of deputy. They are elected for five years by direct universal suffrage. The National Assembly has a Bureau, Technical Committees and Parliamentary Groups. The Bureau of the National Assembly is composed of one (01) President,[13] Vice Presidents, 24 Secretaries and 2 Quaestors. The President of the National Assembly is elected for the entire legislature while the other members of the Bureau are renewed every year.Article 101 of the Constitution assigns several matters to the National Assembly. Thus, the law determines (the rules concerning) matters such as citizenship, nationality, the determination of crimes and offences as well as the penalties applicable to them, criminal procedure, armistice, the state of siege, the state of emergency, the basis, rate, and methods of collection of taxes of all kinds. On the other hand, in matters such as national defence, the alienation and management of the State domain, the law simply determines the fundamental principles. There are also finance laws which determine the resources and expenses of the State and programme laws whose purpose is to set the objectives of the State's economic action.The National Assembly has increased powers. Thus, the members of parliament have the power of initiative. In fact, according to Article 74 of the Constitution, members of parliament have the right to initiate legislation. The texts emanating from the deputies are called law proposals. In addition, the members of the National Assembly have the initiative of the constitutional revision concurrently with the President of the Republic. Moreover, the parliament also has a decision-making power in that it votes the law and agrees on taxes. (Article 93 of the Constitution) Finally, the National Assembly has a power of control over the executive. Indeed, Article 118 of the Constitution stipulates that the National Assembly settles the nation's accounts according to the modalities provided for by the finance law. In addition, the National Assembly has means of information regarding government action. These means of information are the oral question, the written question, and the committee of enquiry. (Article 117 of the Constitution) These means of information can lead to recommendations that the National Assembly can make to the government. In case of disagreement between the National Assembly and the Senate, the final word goes to the National Assembly.16 The parliament plays a role of control of the government's action as provided for in Articles 116 to 118 of the 2016 Constitution. The Senate
According to Article 87 of the 2016 Constitution, the establishment of the Senate, which is the second major innovation of the third republic, is the representation of local authorities and Ivorians abroad. Two thirds of its members are elected by indirect universal suffrage and one third is appointed by the President of the Republic from among former presidents of institutions, former prime ministers, national personalities, and competences, including Ivorians living outside Côte d'Ivoire and the opposition. This body becomes the one that shares the powers of a body whose members are elected by the people to be the National Assembly.

2.1.3. The Constitutional Council

Law No. 94-438 of August 16, 1994, sets out the composition, organisation, powers and functioning of the Constitutional Council.[14] The Constitutional Council is composed of a President appointed by the President of the Republic for a period of six years, renewable only once; two Vice-Presidents appointed for a non-renewable period of six years; former Presidents of the Republic; and six Councillors appointed for a non-renewable period of six years. The Constitutional Council controls the regularity of the presentation of candidacies, the eligibility of candidates, the conduct of the ballot and the counting of votes in the election of the President of the Republic. It rules on the regularity of the presentation of candidacies, on the eligibility of candidates and on the validity of legislative elections.The Constitutional Council notes the vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic. It ensures the regularity of referendum operations and proclaims the results. The Constitutional Council also verifies the conformity of international commitments and organic laws with the Constitution. Bills and proposed laws may be submitted to the Constitutional Council for an opinion. The rules vary depending on whether it concerns an election, a constitutionality review, or a vacancy in the presidency of the Republic. The Constitutional Council is also the judge of elections in Côte d'Ivoire and its decisions are not subject to appeal. When it comes to disputes relating to the election of the President of the Republic (submission of candidatures, eligibility, counting of votes), the Constitutional Council can be approached by candidates.Regarding the election of deputies, there are three possible referrals. Referral by the commission for the verification of candidacies or by any voter, referral by the candidate or political party or by lists of candidates. In terms of constitutionality control, it can be requested by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly or at least a quarter of the deputies in certain cases. The Constitutional Council meets when convened by its President or, if he or she is unable to attend, when convened by his or her deputy. Decisions and opinions are given by at least five members and are adopted by a majority of the members present. In the event of a tie, the President has the casting vote. The decisions of the Constitutional Council are not subject to appeal and are binding on all public authorities.[15]

2.1.4. The Judicial Power

The 2016 constitution, like the constitutions of the 1ère and 2ème republic, enshrines the independence of the judiciary. Thus, according to Article 139 of the Constitution of the third republic, the judiciary is independent, and the President of the Republic guarantees its independence. The Supreme Court and the Court of Auditors are the two jurisdictional institutions representing the judiciary.[16] The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court ensures that the law is applied by the courts of the judicial and administrative orders. It settles conflicts of jurisdiction between the courts of the two orders. It comprises chambers including the Court of Cassation and the Council of State. The President of the Supreme Court is appointed for five years, renewable once, by the President of the Republic from among persons recognised for their experience and expertise in legal matters.[17] The President of the Court of Cassation and the President of the Council of State are appointed by decree in the Council of Ministers after the opinion of the Superior Council of the Magistracy and are both Vice-Presidents of the Supreme Court. At present, the Council of State is not yet in operation. The Court of Audit
The Court of Audit is a high financial jurisdiction in charge of controlling public finances and was created by the Constitution of 1st August 2000. Officially installed on 09th January 2018, it is currently governed by the organic law n° 2018-979 of 27th December 2018 determining its attributions, composition, organisation, and functioning. The Constitution of 08th November 2016 confers on the Court of Audit the dual status of supreme court of control of public finances and Institution of the Republic.[18] The Court of Audit judges the accounts of public accountants, the accounts of de facto accountants and mismanagement. It audits the management of State services, national public establishments, and local authorities. It also audits the management of anybody or association that receives financial assistance from the State, as well as anybody that receives financial assistance from public companies and their subsidiaries. It assists the Parliament and the Government in the control of the execution of the finance laws and in the fields falling within its competence. The Court of Audit receives the authentic declaration of assets of the President of the Republic, the Vice-President, and the members of the High Authority for Good Governance when they take office and at the end of their term of office.

2.2. Other Institutions of the Republic

Beyond the main institutions mentioned above, there are other institutions that should be mentioned and contribute to the proper functioning of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire.

2.2.1. The Grand Chancellery

The National Order of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire is organised by law n°60-403 of 10th December 1960, modified by law n°61-207 of 12 June 1961. The National Order of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, the highest honorary distinction of the State, is intended to reward personal merit and services rendered to the Nation. The President of the Republic is the sovereign head and Grand Master of the Order. He is entitled to the dignity of Grand Cross. The Grand Chancellor is appointed by decree of the Head of State who chooses him from among the Grand Crosses or Grand Officers of the National Order. The functions of the Grand Chancellor are incompatible with those of members of the Government or with the mandate of deputy of the National Assembly. Members of the Order are appointed for life. The Head of State makes all appointments and promotions after consulting the Council of the Order. Foreigners may be members of the Order. The administration of the National Order is carried out under the high authority of the President of the Republic, by the Grand Chancellor assisted by the Council of the Order.The Council of the Order is composed of the Grand Chancellor, President and eight members designated by decree in the Council of Ministers, at least four of whom are awarded the Commander's Cross. The Council of the Order is appointed for four years and renewed by half every two years. Outgoing members may be reappointed. At the time of renewal, the outgoing members are designated by lot. The functions of a member of the Council of the Order are incompatible with those of a member of the Government or a member of the National Assembly. The Grand Chancellor is the custodian of the seal of the Order.

2.2.2. The Ombudsman of the Republic

Charged with helping to resolve mainly disputes between citizens and the administration, the Mediator of the Republic is an independent authority, which does not receive instructions from any other authority. He does not depend on the administration or the government. The Mediator of the Republic is appointed by the President of the Republic for a non-renewable term of six years, after receiving the opinion of the President of the National Assembly. His or her duties may be terminated before the expiry of this period, in the event of impediment noted by the Constitutional Council referred to by the President of the Republic.[19]The mission of the Mediator of the Republic is to seek an amicable settlement of disputes between citizens and the administrations of the State, local authorities, public establishments, or any other body entrusted with a public service mission (social organisations, public enterprises, etc.). The disputes may be acts or omissions of the public administration that violate the rights or infringe on the interests of citizens protected by the law. It is also competent to examine disputes between two natural or legal persons or disputes between urban or village communities or any other entity. It does not interfere in the course of a judicial procedure. It does not question the validity of a judicial decision. Any natural or legal person residing within or outside the territory, regardless of nationality or age, may refer a matter to the Mediator directly or indirectly by any means.

2.2.3. The Economic, Social, Environmental and Cultural Council (CESEC)

The Economic, Social, Environmental and Cultural Council is a consultative body that gives its opinion on draft laws, ordinances or decrees as well as proposed laws that are submitted to it. Its missions and attribution are determined by law n° 2016-688 of 8th November 2016 on the Constitution of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in its Article 163. Draft economic, social, environmental and cultural programme laws are submitted to it for an opinion and the President of the Republic may consult the CESEC on any economic, social, environmental and cultural problem.

2.2.4. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)

The Independent Electoral Commission is the body in charge of organising elections and referendums in Côte d'Ivoire. Provided for by the Constitution of 1st August 2000, in its Article 32 paragraph 4, the Independent Electoral Commission was created by law n°2001-634 of 09th October 2001 on the composition, organisation, powers and functioning of the Independent Electoral Commission. This law has been amended several times, notably by laws n° 2004-642 of 14th December 2004, n°2014-335 of 18 June 2014, n°2014-664 of 03 November 2014 and n° 2019-708 of 05th August 2019. In 2016, the new Constitution mentioned it in its Article 51 paragraph 3 by providing that the independent commission in charge of organising the referendum, presidential, legislative, and local elections, under the conditions provided for by the law, is an independent administrative authority. A law shall determine its powers, its mode of organisation and operation. The Independent Electoral Commission comprises a central commission and local commissions. The texts in force, which are the law on the IEC and the internal regulations of the institution, determine the powers of the members of the various organs of the IEC as well as their functioning.

2.2.5. The General State Inspectorate

The General State Inspectorate plays a role of inspection and control of the administration, bodies and services of the State, in particular those of the General Statute of the Civil Service if they are civil servants or assimilated and for the others, those of their particular statute.

2.2.6. The High Authority for Good Governance

The High Authority for Good Governance is one of the instruments put in place by the government as part of its national plan to fight corruption. It was created by Ordinance n°2013-660 of 20 September 2013 on the prevention and fight against corruption and related offences as amended and completed by Ordinance n°2013-805 of 02 November 2013 and ratified by Law n° 2013-875 of 23 December 2013. The High Authority for Good Governance is an independent administrative authority with legal personality and financial autonomy. It is placed under the authority of the President of the Republic. It has jurisdiction over the entire national territory.

2.2.7. The Chamber of Kings and Traditional Leaders

One of the innovations of the new Third Ivorian Republic, which took place on November 30, 2016, will undoubtedly be the inclusion in the Constitution of the National Chamber of Traditional Kings and Chiefs of Côte d’Ivoire (CNRCT) as an integral part of the Institutional landscape of the Republic. This constitutional anchoring was the last fact of a process of “formalization” of the customary powers which has accelerated from 2014. Indeed, on July 11, 2014, the National Assembly adopted an “Act on the status of Kings and Traditional Chefs “. This law revised the status of traditional kings and chiefs by replacing an anachronistic colonial decree dating from 1934, making them “auxiliaries” of the Administration. The decree, however, continued to frame the relationship between a modern Ivorian State of recent birth (1960) and traditional powers well anterior to it. It is the traditional institution that brings together all the kings and traditional chiefs.[20] The following traditional authorities, whose institutions are recognised by the people and the Administration, have the status of King and Traditional Chief. These are: Kings, Province Chiefs, Canton Chiefs, Tribal Chiefs, Village Chiefs. This chamber is responsible for the enhancement of customs and traditions, the promotion of the ideals of peace, development, social cohesion, and the non-judicial settlement of conflicts in the villages and between the communities. The norms consist of the constitution, ratified international treaties and agreements, laws, decrees, orders, and circulars to a certain extent.

3.1. The Constitution

This is Law No. 2016-886 on the Constitution of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, 58th year, No. 16, special edition, Wednesday 9 November 2016. It is the fundamental law of the country. As the fundamental law, all other laws must conform to it. And the Constitutional Council is the body that judges the conformity of other laws with the constitution.

3.2. Ratified International Treaties and Agreements

Treaties of peace, international organizations treaties, and those modifying Côte d’Ivoire internal laws can be ratified only following a law.[21] It is the President of Republic who negotiates and ratifies treaties and international agreements. The Minister of foreign affairs is the only one in charge of the preparation of the ratification and publication of conventions, agreements protocols, and international rules signed by Côte d’Ivoire or in which Côte d’Ivoire is engaged. The same applies to the renewal or renunciation of agreements. The other ministers must transfer to the Minister of foreign affairs the text on a treaty when they have participated in its elaboration or renunciation, immediately after the signature or adoption, regardless of the importance and character of the text. After transmission to the Minister of foreign affairs, international texts must be published in the Official Journal of Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. They can also be published in a special official bulletin format with free consultation at the ministry of foreign affairs.According to Article 123 of the current Ivorian constitution, treaties or agreements that have been duly ratified have, from the time of their publication, an authority superior to that of the laws, subject to the application of each treaty or agreement by the other party. If a treaty or agreement contains a clause contrary to the constitution, this treaty or agreement can only be ratified after the constitution has been revised. On this basis, Cote d'Ivoire has ratified numerous international treaties and conventions in several areas, notably in the economic and security fields and especially in human rights protection.

3.3. The Laws

The domain of the law is set by the constitution.[22] The law sets the rules concerning : citizenship, civic rights and the fundamental guarantees granted to citizens for the exercise of public freedoms, the freedom, pluralism and independence of the media, the constraints imposed by national defence on citizens in their persons and property; nationality, the status and capacity of persons, matrimonial regimes, succession and gifts the procedure according to which customs and usages are established and brought into harmony with the fundamental principles of the Constitution; the determination of crimes and offences as well as the penalties applicable to them, criminal procedure, amnesty; the organisation of judicial and administrative courts and the procedure followed before these courts; the status of magistrates, ministerial officers and court officers; the general status of the civil service; the status of the prefectural corps; the status of the diplomatic corps; the status of the personnel of local authorities; the status of the military service; the status of the personnel of the national police force; the basis, rate and methods of collection of taxes of all kinds; the system for issuing money; the electoral system for Parliament and local assemblies; the methods of public management of economic and social activities; the creation of categories of public establishments; the general organisation of the administration; the state of siege and the state of emergency; the conditions for the promotion and development of national languages.The law determines the fundamental principles of education and scientific research; the organisation of national defence; the system of property, real rights and civil and commercial obligations; labour law, trade union law and social institutions; the alienation and management of the State domain and that of local authorities; the transfer of companies from the public to the private sector; mutuality and savings; environmental protection and sustainable development; the organisation of production; the regime of political parties and the status of the political opposition; the regime of transport and telecommunications; the regime of State resources and charges; the programming of the objectives of the State's economic and social action; the organisation and functioning of public authorities.

3.4. The Decrees

Matters other than those in the domain of the law fall within the regulatory domain.[23] These are acts taken by the president of the republic in the exercise of his functions. Thus, for the execution of his programme, the President of the Republic may ask Parliament, through a law, for authorisation to issue ordinances in areas that are normally covered by law.[24]

3.5. Orders and Circulars

Decrees are acts taken by ministers and mayors in the exercise of their functions. As for the circular, it is an act that allows the administrative authorities - minister, rector, prefect - to inform their services. It can be interpretative of a law, a decree, or an ordinance, and of an order in order to inform of its content in the administrative services.

4. The Courts of Côte d'Ivoire

In Côte d'Ivoire, there are courts of first instance, second instance, a Supreme Court which can be considered as a third level of jurisdiction and a High Court of Justice in charge of causes related to the president of the republic and members of the government in the exercise of their function.[25]

4.1. The Third Level of Jurisdiction

In this category, we can name the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justice.

4.1.1. The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court includes the Court of Cassation, the Council of State and the Court of Auditors. There is only one and its seat is in Abidjan. It hears appeals against judgments handed down by the Courts of Appeal, or against judgments handed down at last instance by the Courts of First Instance or their sections. The Supreme Court is composed of a headquarters, a Public Prosecutor's Office and a General Secretariat. The seat, placed under the authority of the President, is subdivided into three chambers: Judicial, Administrative and Accounts. The Judicial Chamber, which is the Court of Cassation, hears appeals in cassation against the final decisions of the courts of first instance, the detached sections and the judgments of the Courts of Appeal.The Administrative Chamber, which is the Council of State, hears appeals in cassation against decisions rendered at last instance in proceedings in which a legal person under public law is a party, and appeals for annulment on the grounds of excess of power lodged against the decisions of administrative authorities.The audit chamber is the Court of Audit. It controls the management of the Treasury's public accountants. Each chamber is headed by a President, Vice-President of the Supreme Court, assisted by Advisors. It also includes referenda advisers and auditors.The General Prosecutor's Office of the Supreme Court is headed by a Prosecutor General with three First Advocates General and Advocates General under his command. The General Secretariat, which coordinates the activities of the Supreme Court at the administrative level, comprises a Secretary General, a Deputy Secretary General, Chamber Secretaries, and a Deputy Chamber Secretary.Although the Supreme Court does not rule directly on cases brought before it, it nevertheless rules on final decisions and rulings and can be considered a third level of jurisdiction. Indeed, the judicial chamber deliberates on the conformity of decisions and rulings of ordinary law rendered by the courts and the Court of Appeal and may render a decision confirming the decision or annulling the decision and send the case back to be retried, its decision not being subject to appeal. However, it may decide to retry the case itself. The same applies to the administrative chamber in administrative proceedings brought before it.

4.1.2. The High Court of Justice

The High Court of Justice is an exceptional jurisdiction.[26], It is competent to hear cases of high treason committed by the President of the Republic; crimes or offences committed by the Vice-President and members of the Government in the exercise of their functions, except for crimes and offences against State security as well as related crimes and offences. Established by Law N° 59-230 of 7 November 1959. The High Court of Justice comprises seven titular judges and five substitute judges, all deputies, elected by their peers to sit in this jurisdiction. The functions of the Public Prosecutor's Office are carried out by the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Appeal, assisted by the most senior Advocate General. At present, this court exists only in this name

4.2. The Second Level of Jurisdiction

These are the Courts of Appeal. There are three of them, located in Abidjan, Bouaké and Daloa. The Courts of Appeal hear appeals against decisions rendered by the Courts of First Instance and their detached sections. The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal of Abidjan covers the Courts of First Instance of Abidjan and Abengourou, as well as their detached sections. The jurisdiction of the Bouaké Court of Appeal covers the Courts of Bouaké and Korhogo, and their detached sections. As for the Court of Appeal of Daloa, it covers the Courts of First Instance of Daloa, Man and Gagnoa, as well as their detached sections. Each Court of Appeal is composed of a head office and a public prosecutor's office. The seat, placed under the authority of a First President, is subdivided into chambers each headed by a President of the chamber assisted by Councillors. The Public Prosecutor's Office is headed by a Public Prosecutor with Advocates General and Deputy Advocates General under him.

4.3. The First Level of Jurisdiction

These are the courts that primarily hear disputes. These are the Courts of First Instance and the detached sections. Côte d'Ivoire currently has seven courts of first instance. The courts of first instance are in the major cities of Abidjan, Abengourou, Bouaké, Daloa, Gagnoa, Korhogo and Man. They comprise a court seat, headed by a President assisted by Vice-Presidents, Judges, Investigating Judges, Children's Judges and Guardianship Judges, as well as a Public Prosecutor's Office placed under the authority of a Public Prosecutor assisted by Deputy Public Prosecutors and Assistant Public Prosecutors. The detached sections: The detached sections are small jurisdictional units, created in small towns, to bring justice closer to the people. They operate with one or two magistrates, competent in all matters, and come under the administrative authority of the Courts of First Instance, of which they are merely dismemberments. There are currently 25 detached sections, distributed as follows Sections attached to the Court of Abidjan: Aboisso, Adzopé, Agboville, Dabou, Grand-Bassam, Tiassalé; Sections attached to the Court of Bouaké: Bongouanou, Dimbokro, Katiola, M'Bahiakro, Toumodi; Sections attached to the Court of Daloa: Bouaflé, Sassandra, Soubré, Tabou; Sections attached to the Court of Man: Danané, Séguéla, Touba; Sections attached to the Court of Korhogo: Boundiali, Odienné; Sections attached to the Court of Abengourou: Bongounou, Bouna; Sections attached to the Court of Gagnoa: Divo, Oumé, Lakota. See the Official Portal of the Government of Cote d’Ivoire - Supreme Court.

5. Judicial Staff

Judicial staff includes magistrates, lawyers, clerks, bailiffs, notaries, and auctioneers.The Magistrates: There are judges and prosecutors. Judges enjoy independence and security of tenure.[27] Their career and discipline are managed by the Supreme judicial council.[28] Magistrates of the Public Prosecutor's Office, on the other hand, are subject to hierarchical subordination. Their career and discipline depend on the Minister of Justice.Lawyers: The profession of lawyer is a liberal profession. Thus, they are freely chosen by their clients who pay for their services and are independent of all forms of power. They have a monopoly on pleading, postulation, representation of companies before the Court of Appeal and representation of all parties before the Supreme Court.The Registrars: They are responsible for assisting the judge in all his professional activities, keeping the originals of decisions called "minutes" and issuing copies called "grosses".The Justice Commissioner: Formally named bailiffs, they are appointed by order of the Minister of Justice, they are responsible for: serving writs or deeds; Enforcing court decisions, deeds, or enforceable titles, proceeding with the amicable recovery of debts, proceeding with auctions in the absence of an auctioneer, proceeding with material observations. They may also be appointed as real estate administrators.Notaries: They are public officers appointed to receive deeds and contracts to which the parties must or wish to give authenticity, and to ensure the date, to keep the deposit and to issue "grosses", expeditions, and copies. In the absence of a notary, these functions fall to the Chief Clerk of the Court.Auctioneers: Ministerial officers appointed by decree of the Minister of Justice, they are mainly responsible for the estimation and public auction of furniture, tangible movable effects, and business assets; the inventory with a view to a sale or not. On a secondary basis, they can be real estate administrators, insurance agents in charge of teaching. See the Official Portal of the Government of Cote d’Ivoire - Supreme Court.

6. Sources of Juridical Corpus in Côte d’Ivoire

Texts in use in Côte d’Ivoire are published in the Official Journal, which is the legal announcement journal of the State. Nevertheless, because of structural difficulties, the Official Journal is not published within the period of publication of legal acts. To overcome this difficulty, it is possible to resort to the general secretariat of the government to get certified copies, or to refer to archives of National Assembly to gain access to preliminary working acts, debates, and texts of laws.

Along with these official sources, there are also public or private documentation services which have specialized documents related to Ivorian law. The National Center of Legal Documentation, which is a public service center created in 1955, is one such source. Via this center, through the website of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, we can find digital documents related civil, administrative, and penal jurisprudence. All texts in use in Côte d’Ivoire can be consulted at this center in PDF format.

Researchers can also find sources of Ivoirian legal system especially decision from administrative chambers of supreme court on their website. Moreover, there is also the Ivorian Association for the Development of the Law (AIDD), which publishes a monthly review of legal and juridical information, including doctrine and jurisprudence. Finally, the common and easy way to find Ivoirian legal corpus can be though the local website called LoidIci.com where researchers can get access to several Ivorian text of law.

7. References

[1] The Official Portal of the Government of Cote d’Ivoire, https://www.gouv.ci/_histoire.php (Accessed in May 2022).

[2] Francis Wodie, Institutions politiques et droit constitutionnel en Côte d'Ivoire, Abidjan, Presses universitaires de Côte d'Ivoire, 1996, 625 p.

[3] Néné Bi Boti Séraphin, le droit applicable dans la colonie de Côte d'Ivoire, Revue juridique et politique des états francophone, 2007. https://www.africabib.org/rec.php?RID=30493013X.

[4] M. Hardouin and J.M Duverne, Observation sur l'organisation judiciaire des colonies, 1848.

[5] The Code for indigenous people was a set of regulations that allowed colonial administrators to apply various penalties (prison, fines) to the natives without trial. A major tool of colonial domination and a symbol of the difference in treatment between the colonists and the local inhabitants, it was first implemented in Algeria and then generalised to Africa and Indochina. However, it was applied differently depending on the time and place. Justified by the authorities as a means of ensuring security after revolts, it did not officially disappear until 1946.

[6] Constitution of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire of 8 November 2016. https://mjp.univ-perp.fr/constit/ci2016.htm; https://www.gouv.ci/_institutions.php

[7] New Article 62 of the 2016 Constitution.

[8] National Democratic Institute (NDI), Analysis of the new constitution around a possible postponement of the 2020 presidential election.

[9] Article 70 Constitution of 2016

[10] Article 83 Constitution of 2016

[11] Article 156 Constitution of 2016

[12] Article 85 Constitution of 2016

[13] Article 102 Constitution of 2016.

[14] See Articles 126-138 Constitution of 2016.

[15] Article 138 Constitution of 2016.

[16] Article 144 Constitution of 2016.

[17] Article 150 Constitution of 2016.

[18] Article 152 Constitution of 2016.

[19] Article 166 Constitution of 2016.

[20] Article 175 Constitution of 2016

[21] Article 119-123 Constitution of 2016.

[22] Article 101 Constitution of 2016.

[23] Article 103 Constitution of 2016.

[24] Article 106 Constitution of 2016.

[25] Cf. National Centre for Judiciary document, Jurisdiction code of Cote d’Ivoire Republic, Ed.2022.

[26] See Articles 156-162 Constitution of 2016.

[27] Article 139 and 140 of the Constitution of 2016.

[28] Articles 145 and 146 Constitution of 2016.