Mali - Judicial system

Mali's legal system derives from French civil law and customary law, and provides for judicial review of legislative acts in a Constitutional Court (which was formally established on 9 March 1994). Mali has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

A Supreme Court was established in Bamako in 1969. It is made up of 19 members, nominated for five years. The judicial section has three civil chambers and one criminal chamber. The Supreme Court has both judicial and administrative powers. The administrative section deals with appeals and fundamental rulings.

The Court of Appeal is also in Bamako. There are two magistrate courts of first instance, courts for labor disputes, and a special court of state security. Customary courts have been abolished. The 1992 constitution established a separate constitutional court and a High Court of Justice charged with responsibility for trying senior government officials accused of treason.

The 1992 constitution guarantees independence of the judiciary, and constitutional provisions for freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, and religion are generally respected. Nonetheless, the executive has considerable influence over the judiciary. The president heads the Superior Judicial, the body that supervises judicial activity, and the Ministry of Justice appoints judges and oversees law enforcement. Trials are public, defendants have the right to an attorney of their choice, and court-appointed attorneys are available to indigent defendants in criminal cases. However, the judicial system has a large case backlog resulting in long periods of pretrial detention.

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