In the preindependence period, Cape Verde was subject to the Portuguese civil and criminal codes. Most provisions of these codes remain in effect. A Supreme Tribunal of Justice hears appeals from subregional and regional tribunals. Informal popular tribunals serve as courts of the first instance for minor disputes.
The 1992 constitution provides for a judiciary independent from the executive branch. The Supreme Tribunal (Court) of Justice has a minimum of five members, one appointed by the president, one appointed by the National Assembly, and three appointed by the Supreme Council of Magistrates. The Ministry of Justice and Labor appoints local judges.
Criminal defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to counsel, to public, non-jury trial, and to appeal.