This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria (Al Jumhuriyah al Jaza'iriyah ad Dimuqratiyah ash Sha'biyah), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Algeria's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has some legal status.
Algeria is a country located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the Western Sahara. It is bounded by Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The capital of Algeria is Algiers. The official languages are Arabic and Berber/Tamazight. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 41 million. The official religion of Algeria is Islam. Algeria is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 99% of the population Muslim. Algeria is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League.
Constitution & Legal Structure
Algeria is referred to as a presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The current Constitution of Algeria was adopted in 1989, but was taken out of commission during the Algerian Civil War in the 1990s. The Constitution was reinstated in 1996, and was most recently amended in 2008. 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 Algeria is a mixed legal system of French civil law and Islamic law. Judicial review of legislative acts is through an ad hoc Constitutional Council composed of various public officials, including several Supreme Court justices.
Constitutional Status of Islamic Law
Islamic law has constitutional status in Algeria, specifically for matters related to personal status and family law.
Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law
Islamic law has official jurisdiction of operation in Algeria with regards to matters of personal status. Article 222 of the Family Code of 1984 specifies sharīʿa as a source of law. The sharīʿa-derived family code views women as minors, and puts them under the legal guardianship of a husband or male relative.
Dominant School of Islamic Law
Islam is the official religion of the state, but Algeria does not have an official school of Islamic law. The majority of the Muslim population in the country is Sunnī (adhering to the Ḥanafī school).
Sources of Law for Legal Research
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].