Cameroonian law has three main sources: local customary law, the French civil code, and British law, although drafting of a unified code was reported under way in the 1980s. The Supreme Court, in addition to its other powers and duties granted by the constitution, gives final judgment on such appeals as may be granted by the law from the judgments of the provincial courts of appeal. The system also includes appeals courts in each of the 10 provinces, courts of first instance in each of the country's 58 divisions and a 15-member High Court of Justice, appointed by the National Assembly. Proposals for appointments and sanctions against magistrates throughout the republic are started by the Higher Judicial Council, of which the head of state is president. A Court of Impeachment has the right to try the president for high treason and cabinet ministers for conspiracy against the security of the state.
A State Security Court established in 1990 hears cases involving internal or external state security. Traditional courts that resolve domestic, probate, and minor property disputes remain an important element in the judicial system. These courts vary considerably according to region and ethnic group. Appeal is possible in most cases to traditional authorities of a higher rank.
Prior to the 1995 amendments (promulgated in 1996) to the 1972 constitution, the judiciary was supervised by the Ministry of Justice, part of the executive, and did not function as an independent branch of government. The December 1995 amendments provided for a more independent judiciary. However, as of 2003, these provisions were not implemented. There continues to be reported abuses, including beatings of detainees, arbitrary arrests, and illegal searches. The judiciary remains frequently corrupt, inefficient, and subject to political influence.