The judicial system is based on the French civil law system and customary law. The Supreme Court heads the formal judicial system, which includes a Court of Appeals and lower courts. In rural areas, domestic and other local disputes are often handled through traditional village institutions in accordance with customary law, although the formal court system is increasingly displacing these traditional forms. A grand mediator, whose office is provided for in the constitution to bridge traditional and modern methods of dispute resolution, settles disputes that cannot be resolved solely by traditional means. Military courts only try military personnel. Persons convicted by a military court may petition the Supreme Court.
The judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches in ordinary criminal cases. Under the constitution and in practice, however, the judiciary accedes to the executive on political and national security issues.