Country Profile: Djibouti

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Djibouti (Republique de Djibouti/Jumhuriyat Jibuti), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Djibouti's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has legal status. 

Country Background

Djibouti is a country located in Eastern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It is bounded by Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia. The capital of Djibouti is Djibouti (city). The official languages are French and Arabic. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 865,267 people. The state religion of Djibouti is Islam. Djibouti is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 94% of the population Muslim and 6% Christian. Djibouti is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Djibouti is referred to as a semi-presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The current Constitution of Djibouti was adopted in 1992. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of Djibouti is a mixed legal system based primarily on the French civil code, Islamic family law, and customary laws/traditions. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has constitutional status in Djibouti. Islam is the state religion, and the preamble of the Constitution describes sharīʿa as "the sole source of law." Even the swearing-in oath of the highest ranking judicial official on the Supreme Court (who is also first in the presidential line of succession) enjoins him or her (the position is currently held by a female judge, Khadija Abebe) to respect "Sharia, the Constitution and laws of the country."

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has official jurisdiction of operation in Djibouti. For matters of personal status, Muslims are directed to the family courts, whose codes include elements of civil law and sharīʿa. Civil courts address the same matters for non-Muslims.  

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Djibouti has no official school of Islamic law. However, the majority of the Muslim population in the country is Sunnī (adhering to the Shāfiʿī school).

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].