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Since the tragic events of 911, I have spent more time than I ought trying to understand what many – too many – foolishly refer to as the “religion” of Islam.

Introduction: Culture and Constitutionalism

Recent Elections: In April 2013 the country held its first Senate elections. The ruling CPDM won 54 of the 70 elected seats; an additional 30 senators were appointed by the president, in accordance with the constitution. The elections were peaceful and generally free and fair.

A Note on Constitutional Interpretation

Chapter 1. Making a Government of Laws

Detainee's Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: By law persons arrested or detained, whether on criminal or other grounds, are entitled to challenge in court the legal basis of their detention and obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have been unlawfully detained. There were no reported cases of challenges.

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The court system is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. The constitution designates the president as "first magistrate," thus "chief" of the judiciary, making him the legal arbiter of any sanctions against the judiciary, although he has not played this role publicly. The constitution specifies the president is the guarantor of the legal system's independence. He appoints all judges, with the advice of the Higher Judicial Council. While judges hearing a case should be governed only by the law and their conscience as provided for by the constitution, in some matters they are subordinate to the minister of justice. For example, the Special Criminal Court must have approval from the minister of justice before it may drop charges against a defendant who offers to pay back the money he/she was accused of having embezzled. Despite the judiciary's partial independence vis-a-vis the executive and legislative powers, the president appoints all members of the bench and legal department of the judicial branch, including the president of the Supreme Court, and may dismiss them at will.

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The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary. While the judiciary demonstrated impartiality and independence at times, it was often corrupt and subject to political influences. Individuals reportedly accused innocent persons of crimes or caused trial delays to solve personal disputes. As in 2015 there were no reliable reports that authorities disregarded court orders.

Library of Congress Catalog Data: ISSN 1095-5054

The legal system includes statutory and customary law, and many criminal and civil cases may be tried using either one. Criminal cases generally were tried in statutory courts.