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Dunia P. Zongwe is an author, academic and a consultant. He writes and specializes in the areas of international finance and human rights, focusing on Africa. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Namibia. She also holds a master's degree in civil law contracts dated Currently studying Global Business at Oxford University.

Since , Ms. Daniel Dias has given lectures and acted as a facilitator in Angola, Portugal, and Brazil. Zongwe in April See the Archive Version! Explanatory Note: To understand the legal system of Angola, it is important to take a close look at its geography, ethno-linguistic groups, and at the role of foreign actors and external factors in the shaping of the country's history.

Only then can one perceive the challenges posed by the task of state-building and enforcing the rule of law in such a vast and diverse territory.

Therefore, the first two sections give a brief overview of Angola's recent history and country profile, with links to further information. Angola's Recent History Located in the west coast of southern Africa, Angola was under Portuguese colonial rule until November 11, , when it became an independent nation. Quite symbolically the first Constitutional Law of Angola is dated November 10, Already before Independence, these three groups were fighting among themselves for the control of the country.

After Independence, with the departure of the common Portuguese enemy, the three liberation movements went straight into civil war. Since the MPLA was supported by the communist block i. The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in and the imminent implosion of the Soviet block would be a turning point in Angola's history: The country could finally start moving towards democratization.

In a new constitution and a new law allowing the creation of new political parties were approved Law 12 of 6 May , which approved changes to the Constitution, and Law 15 of 11 May The country plummeted again into war.

In the aftermath of the contested democratic presidential elections, Angola's National Assembly approved the amendments to the Constitution. To no avail, unfortunately, as UNITA kept on expanding its presence throughout the country and building up its military force. The war - which had claimed up to 1. After a quarter century of conflict, the warring parties signed the Luena Memorandum of Understanding , which provided for the conversion of UNITA into a non-armed political party.

The MPLA went on to consolidate its power and launched a national reconstruction program. A new Constitution was adopted on February 5th, Country Profile 2. Angola is organized territorially into provinces and, further, into municipalities. Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, Tchokwe and Ovambo are national languages whereas Portuguese is the official language in Angola.

The legal system of Angola belongs to the civil law tradition. It is based on Angolan customary laws and fundamentally Portuguese civil law. It is a vast country endowed with a wealth of natural resources. It presents one of the greatest economic potentials in Africa despite the sharp fall in oil prices and net investment inflows that the country has witnessed lately. Nonetheless, the country faces tremendous governance challenges. It is also a place where it is not easy to do business.

The major industries in Angola are petroleum; diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, feldspar, bauxite, uranium and gold; cement; basic metal products; fish processing; food processing, brewing, tobacco products, sugar; textiles; and ship repair. Angola also exports natural gas, diamonds, coffee, fish products, timber and cotton.

Following the end of its year long civil war in , Angola embarked on a nationwide reconstruction program that led to a construction boom, high growth rates in agriculture and the resettlement of Angolans displaced by the war.

The construction boom was fueled by billions of US dollars in credit lines granted by several creditors, especially by China. Thanks to high oil prices and the ensuing higher level of oil production, the Angolan economy hummed along at healthy double-digit growth rates between and As a result, poverty was reduced from 54 percent in to 43 percent in However, inequality increased [1] and social indicators have not improved substantially.

The drop-in oil prices is adversely impacting the economy, causing dramatic declines in fiscal revenue and exports. Main oil operators are now challenging the fiscal terms due to current market conditions. To improve the situation described the Midterm Plan for Policy Measures and Actions to Improve the Current Economic and Social Situation was approved for with the purpose of i achieving macroeconomic stability; ii revive economic growth; and iii to mitigate the most pressing social problems, and the Plan may be updated with other measures to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness.

One of the intents is to nnegotiate and adopt a normative profile of oil production, which ensures real rates of growth of the respective sectors, to create a climate conducive to economic growth and job creation. Introduction to Angola's Legal System 3. Angola's Legal System and Research In colonial times, Portuguese law applied in Angola although the traditional customary law was in many cases tolerated or tacitly accepted.

L 72 After independence came, Angola rushed to repeal the old colonial laws. However, to prevent a legal void and disruptions, article 84 of the first constitutional law of Angola guaranteed that the Portuguese laws and regulations in force at the time would remain applicable until revoked or amended and insofar as they did not go against the new Angolan Constitution and the revolutionary process then under way.

What followed Angola's independence from Portugal were 26 years of war and more than 30 years of restless legislative activities in a constant attempt to extend state authority from Luanda to the entire country and its population. The Angolan legislator has been taken the Portuguese legal system as a model when structuring its own. This was a natural option due to enduring colonial ties between the two countries and the sharing of a common language and legal education.

However, even if the similarities are quite significant, today's Portuguese and Angolan legal systems are not exactly the same. Despite the huge legislative production of the last 40 years the road built so far seems rather patchy and unfinished. Quite understandably so, if one considers Angola's history in detail.

It used to be difficult to get hold of historical information and current Angolan legislation even in the original language and keep up with amendments and changes. Fortunately, since, at least, , a clear trend of new legislation being discussed and approved by the competent entities emerged in many areas, including the judicial system, civil laws, for instance, a new lease law dated The new legislation also featured commercial law, labor law, social security, tax law i.

Angola follows the civil-law tradition at least the formal legal system. Legislation is the primary source of law.

Courts base their judgements on legislation, and there is no binding precedent as understood in common-law systems. Therefore, not being able to easily find legislation may indeed be a researcher's most upsetting hurdle.

As to secondary sources, law books on Angolan law are still in short supply both in English and Portuguese but more recently, an increase in legal publications is perceptible. There is also a considerably large number of journal articles and studies mostly in English available online, albeit scattered through dozens of websites. Most of the relevant books and articles are more often classified under non-law subjects African studies, anthropology, history, human rights, political science, sociology, war studies, etc.

A school of thought defends that Angola is not merely a legal system based on civil law, but rather a pluralistic system. The size of the country, the diversity of its people and the many long years of war meant that the Angolan state was never, in practical terms, able to reach and rule the country and the population in their entirety. Therefore, in many areas of the country, traditional customary law still plays an important role, as do local ways of applying state law.

The civil law is based on the following principles: contractual freedom, meaning freedom to or not to contract, freedom to choose the other co-contractor, freedom to determine the contents of the agreement , punctual fulfillment of the agreements, bona fides and civil liability for damages caused by the non-fulfillment of the agreement. The Administrative Law includes various principles including the rule of Law, prosecution of the public interest, proportionality, impartiality, probity and respect for the public wealth, cooperation of the public administration with the private entities and individuals, participation of private entities and individuals in the public decision-making process, access to administrative justice and tax equality.

The Criminal Law Code and Criminal Procedure Law Code, which consubstantiates its instruments states the Nullum Crimen Sine Lege , presumption of innocence, In Dubio Pro Reo , no retroactive application of criminal law, principle of non-incrimination or the so called right to make any statement against himself and no penalty without proven guilt.

There is a principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial power The Constitution entered into force on February 5th, The Constitution proclaims that it is the supreme law of Angola article 6 1 and that any laws and conduct can only be valid if they conform to the Constitution article 6 3.

The text of the Constitution is divided into eight titles and articles. It also contains three annexes on the national flag, the national insignia, and the national anthem.

Besides the direct central administration, indirect central administration, local administration divided in province, municipality and county it is vital to highlight that the constitution acknowledges the status, role and powers of the Traditional Authorities created in accordance with the customary law. In order to be recognized these Traditional Authorities' powers and practices shall not go against the constitutional provisions.

The Angolan Constitution also refers that there a special law shall regulate the powers, jurisdiction, organization, liability, assets and institutional relations among the several Traditional Authorities. Any citizens and private entity that do not agree with an administrative act can timely challenge them through the right following levels: administrative claim that should be presented before the organ that issued the administrative act, hierarchy appeal presented before the immediately higher level in the administrative hierarchy and the judicial appeal presented before the judicial courts.

Fundamental Principles The country's human rights record raises concerns despite the adoption in of a progressive constitution protecting human rights. According to Human Rights Watch, Angolans continue to suffer from human rights abuses, repression, corruption, and the effects of the country's worst economic crisis since the end of the civil war in However, while the Constitution provided for 17 such principles, the Constitution formulates The 21 constitutional fundamental principles relate to the state, the nature of politics, political rights, democratic values, constitutionalism, legality, sources of law, economic liberalism, private property, and natural resources.

Regarding the Angolan state, the very first article of the Constitution states that Angola "shall be a sovereign and independent Republic, based on the dignity of the individual and the will of the Angolan people, whose primary objective shall be to build a free, just, democratic, solidary society of peace, equality and social progress. Article 2 1 lists a number of principles that the Constitution embodies: the rule of law, the sovereignty of the people, the supremacy of the Constitution and the law, the separation of powers and the interdependence of functions, national unity, pluralism of political expression and organization, and representative and participatory democracy.

In terms of the Constitution, the fundamental tasks of the state are to guarantee national independence, territorial integrity and national sovereignty; ensure fundamental rights, freedoms and guarantees; gradually create the necessary conditions required to effectively implement the economic, social and cultural rights of Angolan citizens; promote the well-being, social solidarity and improved quality of life for Angolans, especially the most deprived social groups; and to promote equality, the eradication of poverty, universal and free primary health care, and universal access to free compulsory education.

The Constitution recognizes political rights. It first declares that sovereignty lies with the people, who must exercise it through universal, free, equal, direct, secret and periodic suffrage in order to choose their representatives article 3 1.

It then provides that political power can only be exercised by whoever obtains it legally through free democratic elections article 4 1 and prohibits the appropriation and exercise of power by unconstitutional means article 4 2. Like many civil-law countries, Angola's status as a monist state is confirmed by its constitution.

Article 13 provides that international law forms an integral part of the Angolan legal system and that duly approved or ratified international treaties and agreements come into force after they have been officially published. Private property and free initiative are also fundamental principles embraced by the Angolan Constitution.

Article 14 obliges the state to respect and protect the private property of individuals and corporations, and the conduct of free economic and entrepreneurial activities. What is more, the Constitution has elevated free economic initiatives to a fundamental right article Through the Constitution, Angola asserts its sovereignty over natural resources. Article 16 expressly declares that natural resources are the property of the state and article 3 2 lays down that the state has sovereignty over all Angolan territory, which includes its land, internal and territorial waters, air space, soil and sub-soil, seafloor and associated sea beds.

Article 3 3 extends that sovereignty to the conservation, development and use of natural, biological and non-biological resources in the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf.


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