UPDATE: Republic of Angola – Legal System and Research

By Dunia P. Zongwe and Nélia Daniel Dias

Dunia P. Zongwe is an author, an academic and a consultant. He writes and specializes in the areas of international finance, the economics of law, contracts, natural resources, and human rights, focusing on Africa. Mr. Zongwe studied at the University of Namibia, Université de Montréal, and Cornell University, where he earned both his master’s and doctoral degrees in law. He currently works in South Africa at Walter Sisulu University where he serves in the law department as Associate Professor.

Nélia Daniel Dias is a law lecturer in Angola and a licensed lawyer in both Angola and Portugal. Ms. Nelia also worked for Chevron in Luanda as a senior counsel in oil and gas. She currently works for Baker Hughes as Geomarket Legal Counsel with responsibilities in several countries, including Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa. She teaches at the Angola Catholic University. Previously, she taught at the Lusíada de Angola University for a number of years since 2007. She earned her law degree in civil law from the Lusíada University of Lisbon in 1995. She also holds a master’s degree in civil law (contracts) dated 2000. She has a Master Diploma in Global Business at Oxford University. Since 1995, Ms. Daniel Dias has given lectures and acted as a facilitator in Angola, Portugal, and Brazil. She was a trainer at the Portuguese Bar Association (2005-2006) and Angola Bar Association (2007-2015). She is the daughter of Nuno Xavier Daniel Dias, President of the first National Assembly of São Tomé e Príncipe that signed the independence act on 12 July 1975. Recognized in December 2021 as one of the 100 outstanding female executives in the Oil and Gas industry in Africa.

Published March/April 2022

(Previously updated by Dunia P. Zongwe in April 2016 and in November/December 2017)

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To understand the legal system of Angola, it is important to scrutinize its geography, ethno-linguistic groups, and 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. Section 3 and Section 4 deal with Angola’s legal system while Section 5, Section 6, and Section 9 focus on legal research. Section 7 and Section 8 sketch legal education and the legal profession in Angola.

1. Angola’s Recent History

Located in the west coast of southern Africa, Angola was under Portuguese colonial rule until November 11, 1975, when it became an independent nation. Quite symbolically the first Constitutional Law of Angola is dated November 10, 1975. Three main political nationalist groups fought the Portuguese settlers, namely the MPLA (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola [Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola]), the FNLA Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (National Front for the Liberation of Angola)], and UNITA (União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola [National Union for the Total Independence of Angola)]. 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. Nevertheless, since Independence, the MPLA has always governed the country as the ruling party.On 1 December 1976, in its 31st session, the United Nations (UN) admitted Angola as one of its members, thereby recognizing the MPLA government as legitimate. Since the MPLA was supported by the communist block (i.e., the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Cuba), the United States of America (USA) abstained from voting the Security Council decision that put forward Angola’s membership for admission by the UN General Assembly. China did not participate in the voting. The years to follow were bloodied by violent war between MPLA and UNITA over the control of different parts of the country. The Cold War divide between the Western bloc (led by the USA) and the Eastern bloc (led by the former USSR) fueled the MPLA-UNITA war. The USA, together with the People’s Republic of China and South Africa, supported the then rebel groups FNLA/UNITA whilst the USSR and its allies supported the MPLA.The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the imminent implosion of the Soviet bloc marked a turning point in Angola’s history: The country could finally start moving towards democratization. In 1990, UNITA recognized José Eduardo dos Santos from MPLA as the President of Angola. In 1991 a new constitution and a new law allowing the creation of new political parties were enacted (Law 12 of 1991 (6 May 1991)), which approved changes to the Constitution, and Law 15 of 1991 (11 May 1991). At the end of May 1991, the Bicesse Accords (See S/22609, May 17, 1991, Peace Accords for Angola) tried to end 16 years of war and scheduled presidential elections for 1992. In 1992 the MPLA won the elections but UNITA rejected the elections’ results. The country plummeted again into war.In the aftermath of the contested democratic presidential elections, Angola’s National Assembly approved the 1992 amendments to the Constitution. In 1994 the Lusaka Protocol (See S/1994/1441, December 22, 1994) strove to restore peace to the country. 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 1.5 million lives—only ended in 2002, after government soldiers gunned down UNITA’s leader, Jonas Savimbi. A quarter century of conflict drew to a close when the warring parties signed the Luena Memorandum of Understanding, which provided for the conversion of UNITA into a non-armed political party. UNITA morphed into a peaceful political party in August 2002. The MPLA went on to consolidate its power and launched a national reconstruction program. A new Constitution was adopted on February 5, 2010.

2. Country Profile

2.1. Angola in General

Angola extends over an area of 1,246,700 square kilometers bordering Congo-Brazzaville to the north east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaïre) to the north and east, Zambia to the east, and Namibia to the south. Angola is organized territorially into provinces and, further, into municipalities. It is divided into 18 provinces (Bengo, Benguela, Bie, Cabinda, Cuando-Cubango, Cuanza Norte, Cuanza Sul, Cunene, Huambo, Huila, Luanda, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Malanje, Moxico, Namibe, Uige, and Zaire). Article 20 of the 2010 Angolan Constitution declares Luanda the capital of Angola. In August 2017, João Lourenço took over from José Eduardo Dos Santos as President of the Republic. Dos Santos had served as President since 1979.The main ethno-linguistic groups comprise Ovimbundu and Mbundo, Kimbundu, Bakongo, Lunda-Chokwe, and Ngangela. Umbundu, Kimbundu, Kikongo, Tchokwe and Ovambo are national languages whereas Article 19 of the Constitution retains Portuguese as 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. Angola is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (See Dunia Zongwe, UPDATE: An Introduction to the Law of the Southern African Development Community, GlobaLex, July/August 2014), the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), and the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP).A number of informative and up-to-date websites in English and Portuguese contain Angola’s country profiles, general information, documents and papers on a variety of topics. These websites include:

2.2. The Angolan Economy

Angola was considered Africa’s sixth largest economy after Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, and Morocco. It is a vast country endowed with a wealth of natural resources. It still 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 and due to the COVID-19 challenges. Nonetheless, the country faces tremendous governance challenges. It is also a place where it is not easy to do business.As an upper middle-income country, Angola is part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and, since November 1996, a member of the World Trade Organization. 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. As a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since 2006, Angola was Africa’s second largest oil exporter after Nigeria. Angola also exports natural gas, diamonds, coffee, fish products, timber, and cotton.Following the end of its 27-year long civil war in 2002, 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 2004 and 2008. As a result, poverty was reduced from 54% in 2000 to 43% in 2008.However, inequality increased,[1] and social indicators have not improved substantially.[2] Furthermore, due to the capital-intensive nature of offshore oil production in Angola, the country’s impressive growth has failed to generate an adequate number of jobs, and unemployment remained at about 25% as of 2015.[3]Since 2014, Angola’s oil-dependent economy experienced slow growth as oil prices dropped. The drop in oil prices is adversely impacting the economy, causing dramatic declines in fiscal revenue and exports. Main oil operators challenged the fiscal terms due to the difficult market conditions.[4] In fact, it is the worst economic crisis that Angola has been confronted with since the end of the civil war in 2002.[5] In spite of the depressed oil prices and the ensuing sluggishness, the country’s economic trajectory is still seen by some analysts as positive.The Midterm Plan approved by Presidential Decree No. 258/17 of 27 October, resulted from the need to combat the Angolan economic crisis because of the drastic drop in the oil prices in international markets, since 2014. 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 was to negotiate and adopt a normative profile of oil production, which could ensure real rates of growth of the respective sectors, to create a climate conducive to economic growth and job creation. Meanwhile, inflation is set to slow from an average of 21.9% in 2020 to 18.0% in 2021, given a slower pace of currency depreciation and the fading base effects of a VAT introduced in late 2019. There was an expectation in market that the Angolan economy would slide deeper into recession in 2020, before a very modest expansion in 2021. Fact is that 2020 saw Angola experiencing its fifth year of overall economic recession. Ongoing Governmental reforms aimed at improving the Angolan business environment and facilitating investment including in the oil sector that potentially could be seen as paying off in the long term, limiting the extent of declines in domestic oil production. However, the major risk associated with the Angolan economy is still the low oil prices in current 2021 despite the aim of the Economy diversification. In colonial times, Portuguese law applied in Angola although the traditional customary law was in many cases tolerated or tacitly accepted. (A summary of this aspect of the Angolan legal system can be found in Narana Coissoro, African Customary Law in the Former Portuguese Territories, 1954-1974, 28 J. Afr. L 72 (1984).)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 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, 2007, 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 2015. The new legislation also featured commercial law, labor law, social security, tax law (i.e., the entire tax legislation was reviewed), oil and gas (e.g., new provisions on local content), finance, investment laws, foreign exchange laws, customs, insurance, environment, and health, among others.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 a law review called RAD (Revista Angolana de Direito). 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.) or a mix of law and non-law subjects rather than strictly under ‘law’ as a subject.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 ruling Law related to the Civil Procedures Law is the Portuguese Civil Procedure Code stated in Decree Law 44 129, 28 December, Dispatches 23 090, 26 December 1967, Law 10/86, 15 September, law 9/05, 17 August, Law 9/96, 19 April, and other Legislation.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 new 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. Angola has enacted these two critical pieces of legislation with the clear intent to modernize criminal justice system: a new Criminal Code and a new Criminal Procedure Code, approved, respectively, by Laws Nos. 38/20 and 39/20, both of 11 November 2020. The new Codes are seen as a consequence of the reform of the Angolan justice system replacing the 1886 Criminal Code and the 1929 Criminal Procedure Code.

3.2. The Angolan Constitution

The Constituent Assembly adopted the Angolan Constitution on January 21, 2010, which stays on the top of the hierarchy of Laws. There is a principle of separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial power The Constitution entered into force on February 5, 2010. 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 244 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. 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.

3.2.1. Fundamental Principles

The country’s human rights record raises concerns despite the adoption in 2010 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 2002.[6]Like the 1992 Constitution, the 2010 Constitution lays down fundamental principles. However, while the 1992 Constitution provided for 17 such principles, the 2010 Constitution formulates 21. 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.” The Constitution defines Angola as a unitary (Article 8) and secular (Article 10) state based on the rule of law and imposes a duty on the state to promote and defend human rights. 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 38).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 seabeds. 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. The Constitution also states the difference between private and public domain, the principle of irreversibility of the confiscations and the State as the initial landowner.Also relevant the Angolan fiscal organization mentions that taxes may only be imposed by law, taxes cannot have a retroactive effect except the ones that determine sanctions and to the extent they are more favorable to the taxpayers, the establishment, modification and extinction of contributions related to public services, use of public domain or similar cases shall be expressly foreseen by the law, the State budget is the annual or pluri-annual financial plan of the Angolan State, which reflects the objectives, goals and actions foreseen in the national planning instruments.

3.2.2. Fundamental Rights and Duties

The Angolan Constitution provides an extensive catalogue of human rights and duties. First, civil and political rights are covered by provisions on various rights, including life (Article 30); personal integrity (Article 31); physical freedom and personal security (Article 36); freedom of expression and information (Article 40); freedom of the press (Article 44); broadcasting (Article 45); freedom to meet and demonstrate (Article 47); freedom of association (Article 48); freedom to form political associations and political parties (Article 55); vote (Article 54); participation in public life (Articles 52 and 53); identity and privacy (Article 32); inviolability of the home (Article 33); freedom of conscience, religion and worship (Article 41); and freedom of residence, movement and emigration (Article 46). These civil and political rights are directly enforceable and bind all private and public entities in Angola.Moreover, social, economic and cultural rights are enshrined in provisions protecting family, marriage and filiation (Article 35); free economic initiative (Article 38); freedom of professional and business association (Article 49); trade union freedoms (Article 50); strikes and prohibition of lock-outs (Article 51); intellectual property (Article 42); and freedom of cultural and scientific creation (Article 43). The catalogue of economic, social, and cultural Rights is vast. The fulfilment of these rights calls for hard economic efforts from the public administration to be ensure they are enjoyed by the overall Angolan population. They are programmatic rights whose implementation is achieved over the long term.

4.1. The Political System

The text of the 1991 Constitution, as amended by Law 23/92 of 25 August 1992, aimed at reflecting the “prevailing reality” resulting from the important social, political and economic changes occurring in Angola from the 80s to the 90s, and at fostering and regulating those changes. The 1992 revision was made following the first multiparty elections, and it intended to clarify “the political system, the separation of powers and the interdependence of sovereign bodies”, outlining the essential principles of the political system so that the newly elected sovereign bodies could build a democratic state based on the rule of law.The 2010 Constitution declares Angola a multiparty democracy with a presidential regime. According to Article 105 of the Constitution, the sovereign bodies in Angola are the President of the Republic, the National Assembly, and the Courts, which are separated but interdependent.

4.1.1. The Executive Branch

In terms of the Constitution, executive power directly rests with the President (Article 108), assisted by his auxiliaries, namely the Vice-President (Article 131), the Council of Ministers (Article 134), the Council of the Republic (Article 135), and the National Security Council (Article 136). Together, they form the executive (See Governo de Angola, Portal Official do Governo de Angola).

The President: Article 108 of the Constitution states that the President is Head of State, that he or she exercises executive power, and that he or she acts as Commander-in-Chief of the Angolan Armed Forces. The 2010 Constitution changed the rules on the election of the President. Where the 1992 Constitution allowed people to directly elect the President, the 2010 Constitution provides that the President of the Republic will be the head of the political parties or coalition of political parties who holds most seats in Parliament. (This electoral mode is similar to the one obtaining in South Africa.) The President so elected serves a five-year term and may be eligible for a second consecutive term (Article 113).José Eduardo dos Santos had been Angola’s President for 38 consecutive years. President Dos Santos was originally elected without opposition under a one-party system in September 1979 and then won Angola's first multiparty elections in 1992. The elections were held in 2012. In February 2017, President dos Santos announced at a meeting of the ruling Party, the MPLA, that he would step down as President of Angola before the 23 August 2017’s poll, that his defense minister João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço was his successor, and that he (i.e., President dos Santos) would nonetheless stay on as President of the MPLA. João Lourenço was elected in August 2017. President Lourenço has embarked upon some remarkable reforms, including his spectacular anti-corruption campaign and the large-scale privatization of state-owned companies. The next presidential elections will take place in 2022.The Constitution gives the President vast powers, which have been extended even further. Angola could therefore be considered to have a strong presidential system. In fact, Angola has a five-century-long centralist and presidentialist tradition.[7] As stated in Articles 117-126, the President has the following powers over the other sovereign bodies:

The Council of Ministers: The Cabinet (Vice President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers) is called Conselho de Ministros (Council of Ministers). The structure, composition and activities of the Council of Ministers are provided for in the Constitution. The Council is composed of the Vice-President, Ministers of State, and Ministers.The President presides over, convenes the Council of Ministers, and sets its agenda (Article 134(2) of the Constitution). The Council of Ministers has its own websites, although there is not much information or documentation available yet. Below is a list of Angola’s ministries, with links to their respective websites. Most of the websites are still under construction, some already have information and documents available, although none is exhaustive. The best way to get hold of specific materials is by contacting the individual ministries by telephone or e-mail.

Agriculture and Fisheries

Tel: +244 222 323 857

+244222 323 859


Ministério da Agricultura e Pescas (login required)


Tel: +244 222 321 236


Ministério da Educação

Energy and Water

Tel: +244 222 430 576/ 244 222 430 602


Ministério da Energia e Águas

Social Action, Family and Promotion of Women

Tel: +244 222 311 171


Ministério da Acção Social, Família e Promoção da Mulher

Foreign Affairs

Tel: +244 222 394 827


Ministério das Relações Exteriores

National Defense and War Veterans

Tel: +244 222 321 648


Ministério da Defesa Nacional e Veteranos da Pátria


Tel: +244 222 336 095


Ministério das Finanças

Mineral Resources, Oil and Gas

Tel: +244 222 321 655


Ministério dos Recursos Minerais, Petróleo e Gás


Tel: +244 222 391 641


Ministério da Saúde

Culture, Tourism and Environment

Tel: +244 222 311 448


Ministério da Cultura, Turismo e Ambiente (login required)

Industry and Commerce

Tel: +244 222 332 971


Ministério da Indústria e Comércio (login required)


Tel: +244 222 335 976


Ministério do Interior

Justice and Human Rights

Tel: +244 222 336 045


Ministério da Justiça e Direitos Humanos (login required)

Economy and Planning

Tel: +244 222 390 188 / +244 222 332 731

Ministério da Economia e Planeamento

Telecommunications and Information Technology

Tel: +244 222 310 164


Ministério das Telecomunicações e Tecnologias de Informação

Public Administration, Work and Social Security

Tel: +244 222 399 506

Ministério da Administração Pública, Trabalho e Segurança Social

Public Works and Urban Planning

Tel: +244 222 398 749


Ministério das Obras Públicas e Ordenamento do Território

Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation

Tel: +244 222 330 218


Ministério do Ensino Superior, Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação

Social Communication


Ministério da Comunicação Social

Territorial Administration

Tel: +244 222705090 or +244 992731273


Ministério da Administração do Território


Tel: +244 222 311 800


Ministério dos Transportes

Youth and Sports

Tel: +244 222 443 521 / +244 222 443 781


Ministério de Juventude e Desportos (login required)

There are 18 provincial governments, listed below: Council of the Republic: The President has a consultative body called Conselho da República (Council of the Republic), at which he presides. This body advises the President in very specific situations such as the dissolution of the National Assembly, discharging the Government, making a declaration of war, etc. (Article 135 of the Constitution).

4.1.2. Legislative Branch

National Assembly: The Assembleia Nacional de Angola (National Assembly) is a unicameral parliament with 220 seats. Of this total, 130 are elected from closed lists by proportional representation and the remaining 90 are elected in 18 five-seat constituencies. Members are elected to serve four-year terms. The last legislative elections were held in August 2017.The National Assembly is Angola’s main legislative body, having the power to approve laws on all matters (except those reserved by the Constitution to the Government) by simple majority (except if otherwise provided in the Constitution). Each legislature comprises four legislative sessions of twelve months, starting on 15 October each year. National Assembly members, parliamentary groups and the Government hold the power to put forward all draft legislation. However, except for national budget review laws, no bills that involve an increase in the expenditure or decrease in the state revenue established in the annual national budget can be presented during the current financial year.The Constitution determines the areas in which only the Assembly can pass legislation (Articles 161 and 164) and all other areas in which the Assembly can delegate its legislative powers to the Government (Article 165). The National Assembly also approves international treaties on matters within its exclusive legislative powers, as well as peace treaties, Angola's participation in international organizations, fixing borders, friendship, defense, military matters and any other matters put forward by the Government (Article 161(k) of the Constitution).

The Legislative Powers of the Government: The Government also has legislative powers. These are directly and specifically set in the Constitution,[8] or they may result from delegation by the National Assembly. The President promulgates laws approved by the Assembly and signs Government decrees.

4.2. The Judiciary

The Constitution devotes an entire section to the country’s court structure (Title IV, Chapter 4, from Article 174 to Article 197). The main laws that regulate the judiciary are Law 18/88, Law 20/88 of 31 December and Decree 27/90 of 3 September 1990, which lay down the framework of the sistema unificado de justica (unified justice system). Vital is also the New Law 2/15 dated 2 February that provided the new organization and functioning of the Common Courts and has expressly revoked, at least in theory, Law 18/88.In 2018, the Angolan judiciary, together with the judiciary of Mozambique and Zimbabwe, ranked as the least independent in Southern Africa and fared well below the world median.[9]

4.2.1. The Institutions

The High Council of the Judicial Bench: The High Council of the Judicial Bench is the supreme body responsible for managing and disciplining judges. The Council is largely instrumental in the appointment and evaluation of judges. More specifically, it is responsible for evaluating the professional ability of judges and taking disciplinary action against them; recommending judges for appointment to the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court; and ordering investigations, inspections and inquiries into the legal services and putting forward recommendations on how to improve those services.

The Courts: Courts play a pivotal role in the administration of justice. Article 174 provides that the courts are independent sovereign bodies who administer justice on behalf of the people. They are responsible for ruling on conflicts of public or private interests, ensuring the defense of rights and interests protected by law and repressing any violations of the democratic rule of law. Furthermore, Article 175 provides that the courts shall be independent and impartial, and subject only to the Constitution and the law.

Public Defense and Justices of the Peace: The state is obliged in terms of the Constitution to make sure that mechanisms for public defense are available for indigent litigants, with a view to providing legal aid and official legal representation. As for justices of the peace, their obligation is to resolve minor social conflicts, but they haven’t been implemented yet.

The Ombudsman: The Ombudsman is an independent public body whose mandate is to defend the rights, freedoms and guarantees of citizens, ensuring—by informal means—administrative justice. Any person may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman concerning acts or omissions by public authorities. Public authorities have an obligation to cooperate with the Ombudsman. Each year, the Ombudsman is required to draw up a report on the main complaints received and on its recommendations to the National Assembly and forward them to relevant bodies endowed with sovereign power. The Ombudsman and his or her deputy are elected by the National Assembly by a two-thirds majority of its members. They are sworn in by the President of the Republic.

4.2.2. The Higher Courts

The Angolan Constitution establishes the following higher courts: the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Military Court, and the Court of Auditors.

The Constitutional Court: This Constitutional Court (Tribunal Constitucional) was established in 2008. It is responsible for the administration of justice in legal and constitutional matters, in terms of the Constitution and the law (Article 180 of the Constitution).Eleven counsellor judges sit on the Constitutional Court, including the Chief Justice. Appointed by the President of the Republic, Laurinda Jacinto Prazeres Monteiro Cardoso became in August 2021 the President of the Constitutional Court. She is Angola’s Chief Justice. Chief Justice Laurinda Cardoso replaced Manuel Miguel da Costa Aragão, who had served as Chief Justice from November 2017 until he resigned his position in August 2021. And, until 2017, Rui Ferreira preceded Aragão as Chief Justice since the President of the Republic appointed him in that position in 2008. The law gives the Constitutional Court a high degree of independence. Thus, the Constitutional Court enjoys full administrative, financial, and institutional independence.[10] Each year, Parliament grants the Court its own budget.[11] As of 12 April 2020, the Constitutional Court has handed down 603 judgments (acórdãos) since the government installed that Court in 2008.

The Supreme Court: The Supreme Court is called Tribunal Supremo. It is a higher court of general jurisdiction. Based in Luanda; its jurisdiction extends all over the national territory. It is composed of the President, Vice-President and a minimum of 16 judges appointed by the President. The President of the Republic appoints Supreme Court judges on the recommendation of the High Council of the Judicial Bench, following the competitive submission of curricula by judges, public prosecutors, and jurists of recognized merit.The Angolan President appointed in October 2019 Joel Leonardo as President of the Supreme Court. Judge Leonardo succeeded Rui Ferreira, who presided the Supreme Court since 2018. Judge Ferreira was preceded by Manuel Miguel da Costa Aragão, who had served as President of the Supreme Court since 2014 until 2017. Thus, Judge Manuel Aragão left the Supreme Court in November 2017 to head the Constitutional Court where the President appointed him that year. The Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction in a number of matters and appellate jurisdiction in appeals emanating from provincial court decisions in general and municipal court decisions in criminal matters.

The Supreme Military Court: The Supreme Military Court is the highest court within the hierarchy of military courts. The Presiding Judge and his or her deputy, the other members of the Supreme Military Court are appointed by the President of the Republic from amongst military judges.

The Court of Auditors: The Court of Auditors is the supreme body responsible for overseeing the legality of public finances and for auditing public accounts submitted to it.

4.2.3. Public Prosecutors

The Office of the Attorney General: The principal duty of the Office of the Attorney General is to represent the state, especially in conducting criminal prosecutions. The Office of the Attorney General (Procuradoria-Geral da República) also has to duty to defend the legality of the exercise of judicial functions, oversee procedural regularity in courts, and defend the rights of individuals and corporations. The Office enjoys both administrative and financial autonomy in terms of the Constitution. Each year, it must draw up and submit a report on its work to the National Assembly and other state institutions. João Maria de Sousa holds the office of the Attorney General of Angola.The Office of the Attorney General is composed of three essential bodies, namely the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Military Prosecutor’s Office. The Attorney General and his or her deputies are appointed for a five-year term, renewable once, by the President of the Republic on recommendation by the Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office: The Supreme Judicial Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office is in charge of the management and regulation of public prosecutors. The Council assesses, appoints, transfers, and promotes public prosecutors. Another responsibility of the Council consists in taking disciplinary measures against public prosecutors guilty of misconduct.The Council is composed of deputy attorneys general, public prosecutors elected by their peers, members elected by the President of the Republic and those elected by the National Assembly. Members of the Council are elected for five-year terms, renewable once. The Attorney General presides over the Council.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office: The Public Prosecutor’s Office performs the judicial function of the state, and, as such, it is an essential body of the Office of the Attorney General. The Prosecutor’s Office is primarily responsible for representing the state before the courts in criminal cases. Deputy Attorneys General are in turn responsible for representing the Public Prosecutor’s Office before the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, Court of Auditors and other higher courts. The Prosecutor’s Office is required by the Constitution to be accountable and autonomous, dictated by the principles of legality and objectivity.

The Military Prosecutor’s Office: The Military Prosecutor’s Office is the organ of the Office of the Attorney General that controls and oversees the legality within the Angolan Armed Forces, the National Police Force, and security agencies.

Initially, Angola used both the Commercial Code and Criminal Code from 19th century Portugal. However, just like in Portugal, most of the Commercial Code is no longer in force and has been replaced by a number of un-codified/loose acts in corporate and commercial matters (Some can be found on the Ministry of Commerce website (login required). There is a draft Criminal Code expected to be soon approved by the Angolan parliament.One of the places where one can easily find cases in print is the Supreme Court or the Bar Association. Case law is not particularly important in many civil-law legal systems. In law schools, students do not usually study cases, just legislation and secondary sources about legislation. Cases are only mentioned occasionally.

5.1. Primary Sources

Legislation is the primary source of law in Angola. And, besides the legislation, there are often general legal principles that apply in certain situations. Customary Laws also have a role in certain matters.

5.1.1. Legislation

Draft laws produced by the members of the National Assembly, parliamentary groups, representatives of the judiciary, or the Government are sent to the President of the National Assembly, together with a detailed motivation. As provided for in Article 166 of the Constitution, Acts of Parliament take various forms depending on the source and other legal criteria’s, namely constitutional revision laws, organic laws, basic laws, authorizations to legislate, resolutions and laws concerning matters within the competence of the National Assembly which do not other assume any other form.The President of the National Assembly sends draft laws to the relevant parliamentary commission for an opinion. As soon as this opinion is released, the draft laws are included in the National Assembly’s agenda to be discussed, possibly amended and finally approved (or rejected) in the next plenary meeting. The National Assembly approves bills by specified majorities depending on the nature of the law (i.e., constitutional revision law, organic law, basic law, etc.).Any provisional presidential legislative decree that has been definitively rejected cannot be assessed in the same legislative session unless there is a new election of the National Assembly. Provisional presidential legislative decrees resulting from an authorization of the National Assembly can still be scrutinized by the latter for amendments or ratification.After their adoption, laws and decrees are sent for signature and promulgation by the President, who within 30 days after receiving them can request a full or partial reconsideration of the text by the National Assembly. If, after reconsideration, the National Assembly approves the law by a two-thirds majority, the President is obliged to promulgate the bill within 15 days.After signature and promulgation by the President, all acts are published in Series I of the Official Gazette. The types of Acts published are: The date of the Acts is the date of publication in the Official Gazette (Diario da Republica de Angola) In case the law does not expressly state a start date it is understood that laws enter into force in Luanda Province four days after publication, in other Provinces 15 days after publication and abroad 30 days after publication.All Acts published in Serie I of the Official Gazette have the following citation format: Here is an example of legislative citation: Lei 12/91 de 6 de Maio de 1991 – Aprova as alterações a Lei Constitucional. Angola’s official website can be useful. It may also be useful to contact the relevant ministries directly to get hold of legislation in their respective areas of competence.The Angolan Bar Association offers a database containing the scanned copies of Serie I of the Angolan National Gazette from 1975 to the current issue. The best way to proceed is to contact the Angolan Bar Association by e-mail or telephone and ask for guidance on how to gain access to specific pieces of legislation:

Ordem dos Advogados de Angola

Instalações Centrais

Projecto Nova Vida, Rua nº 109, Casa 1001- Luanda

Tele. +244-222-326330 / 222 354980/ 222 322777

E-mail: info@oaang.org

There is also a project called Legis-Palop funded by the program EuropeAid to help in the creation of online databases with legislation and cases for the five Lusophone countries: Angola, Cabo Verde, Guiné Bissau, Moçambique, and São Tomé e Príncipe. Some websites contain Angolan laws in the fields of finance, foreign exchange, and foreign investment. In any case, one should verify if the legislation published in such websites is current. Below are some examples:

5.1.2. Customary Law

It was arguable that customary law (‘custom’) was a source of law in Angola during colonial times and it still is today, despite the most recent studies in this area pointing in the direction of legal pluralism. Unlike the 1992 Constitution, the 2010 Constitution recognizes ‘custom’ insofar as it does not contradict the Constitution or threaten human dignity. Article 223 of the Constitution lays down that

[t]he state shall recognize the status, role and functions of the institutions of the traditional authorities founded in accordance with customary law which do not contradict the Constitution.

5.1.3. Cases

Angola is a civil-law jurisdiction where legislation is naturally the primary source of law. Therefore, judicial precedents in Angola do not have the binding authority that they enjoy in common-law systems; they are not generally considered a source of law.Landmark cases are decided by the Tribunal Supremo. Before the coming into existence of the Constitutional Court in 2008, the Supreme Court exercised the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court in addition to its own jurisdiction. Although the Tribunal Supremo has a website with a section on cases that it decided, the cases are not yet available. The contact details of the court are:

Tribunal Supremo de Angola

Morada Rua 17 de Setembro

Localidade Palácio da Justiça – Luanda

Tel.: + 244 222 339 079

E-mail: geral@tribunalsupremo.ao

The Angolan Bar Association library has started compiling Supreme Court cases in late 2006. Their contact details are given above.

5.1.4. International Law

The Constitution, the supreme law of Angola,[12] provides that international law forms part of the Angolan legal system. More specifically, Article 13 of the Constitution states that the treaties ratified and published or gazetted form part of Angolan law:[13] The way the constitution makers drafted Article 13 suggests that both the rules of international customary law and ratified international treaties form part of Angolan law. Article 13 of the Angolan Constitution also indicates the precise moment when an international treaty comes into force. A treaty enters into force and thus becomes part of Angolan law when the government officially publishes the treaty. The Angolan state proceeds as follows to integrate a treaty into domestic law: The government negotiates a treaty, the National Assembly approves the ratification of the treaty, the President ratifies it, the government officially publishes it, then the treaty enters into force, thereby becoming part of Angolan law.Several cases that the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have decided cite the provisions of international human rights instruments. Nonetheless, these cases remain rare. In 2010, the Constitutional Court applied the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a matter involving the separatists who had sought to break the Cabinda enclave away from Angola.[14] Then in 2015, the Constitutional Court handed a judgment on the constitutional review of the judgment of the Family Division of the Provincial Court of Huíla, which refers to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[15] That same year, the Constitutional Court reviewed the constitutionality of the judgment handed down in another case,[16] in light of international human rights.[17] Lastly, the Court also referred to international human rights instruments in another appeal where it reviewed the constitutionality of the judgment handed down in a case from a lower court.[18]As for the Supreme Court, it rendered a judgment on the constitutionality of the judgment[19] handed down by the third section of the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court.[20]

5.2. Secondary Sources

Books about Angola: Despite the visible increase of legal publications over the past years, there is still not a great deal of books dealing with the Angolan legal system. The following section indicates books published in Portuguese and in English about different topics pertaining to Angola. Some editors like Cha de Caxinde, Casa das Ideias, Texto Editores and Uniao dos Escritores Angolanos have taken significant steps to broaden this limited publication horizon. Notwithstanding, the attempt to point out the most recent legal publications, some of them may be partially outdated due to changes in the Angolan legal system that occurred after their publication. This section equally includes books that cannot fit into the topic “Law” but that may be considered to be of interest when researching the Angolan legal system. In the case of books in Portuguese, the ISBN is indicated in order to help researchers finding them in library catalogues. Books in Portuguese Books in English
Journals about Angola: Searching the word ‘Angola’ in journals included in an online database such as Westlaw can be a starting point, as it brings out thousands of articles. Also, some of the libraries and centers indicated below in points 3.3 and in 6 of this guide catalogue journal articles about Angola.News Sources about Angola: News about Angola can be found in the Angolan Press Agency and in Journal de Angola. Other places that may be worth a visit are Angola’s National Television and National Radio websites. Angola’s embassy in Russia also publishes a newsletter in Portuguese called Angoflash. Three good sources for news in English are the BBC’s Africa section, the New York Times Angola Section, and IBA’s LegalBrief.

6. Resources for researchers

6.1. Online Bookshops/Major Publishers (Portuguese)

In the absence of a prolific Angolan legal publisher, this section gives an indication of some online publishers/bookshops where researchers can find and order books about Angola in Portuguese:

6.2. Online Bookshops/Major Publishers (English)

This section indicates online bookshops where the English-language publications listed above can be found as well as the main English-language publishers that have books about Lusophone Africa and Angola:

6.3. Online Library Catalogues (Portuguese)

The Angolan National Library does not yet have a website or an online catalogue. Therefore, one can only contact the library through a personal visit or by telephone:

Angola National Library/Biblioteca Nacional de Angola

Av. Norton de Matos

Caixa Postal 2915

Luanda, Angola

Tel: +244 222 337 317

The Angolan Bar Association has a library although its online searchable catalogue is still under construction. In any case, all of the Portuguese-language books and journal articles listed above can be found in the catalogues of the Portuguese National Library and Portuguese university libraries listed below. They may also offer inter-library loans. Here are a few examples of Portuguese keywords that researchers can use to search these catalogues: África, Angola, PALOP, Colónias, Colonização, Colonial, Lusófono, and Lusofonia. Several law schools exist in Angola. Universidade Agostinho Neto is a state-owned university created in the 1960s. The university library can effectively help researchers find local materials. The library may be reached through the switchboard +244 222 311 125 or by e-mail.The Universidade Católica de Angola (owned by the Roman Catholic Church) began teaching law in 1998. This university library has got a searchable catalogue and may assist researchers in finding local materials. The library may be reached through the switchboard +244 222 010 916 or e-mail. Furthermore, the Universidade Gregorio Semedo has some relevant titles under its library catalogue. There are also the Universidade Lusíada de Angola, which began teaching law in 2000, and the Universidade Jean Piaget. Founded in 1926, the Bar Association of Portugal never extended to overseas colonies despite demands by lawyers in those territories. On January 6, 1995, the first Lei da Advocacia (Law 1/95) was adopted and, on September 13, 1996, the Angolan government enacted a law on the Bar Association of Angola and its regulations. On September 20, 1996, the Bar Association of Angola (Ordem dos Advogados de Angola) was eventually created by proclamation at the Congress Palace in the country’s capital, Luanda.As stated in the Bar Association regulations:

Advocacy in Angola is a ‘liberal’ profession within an organizational system similar to the one existing in continental Europe and where the regulatory and disciplinary functions fall to the Angolan Bar Association in its capacity as a public professional corporation.

Only practicing lawyers and lawyers on probation registered with the Bar Association can undertake consultancy, represent clients and perform other duties in court inherent in the profession throughout the national territory and before any jurisdiction, authority, or public or private body.

According to Article 193(3) and 195(1) of the Constitution, the Angolan Bar Association is responsible for regulating access to the legal profession, for regulating the profession and legal representation, and for providing legal aid. Admittedly, the legal profession is an essential institution in the administration of justice. On its official website, the Angolan Bar Association lists the people admitted to practice law in Angola.Lawyers are expected to serve justice and the rule of law. The Constitution grants lawyers immunity when performing actions and representing clients in the exercise of their profession.

9. Research Centers (outside Angola)

Many research centers focus on African studies. Below are a few suggestions of centers that house research projects about Angola and that have very good (and searchable) online library catalogues.

[1] International Monetary Fund (IMF), Angola: Staff Report for the 2015 Article IV Consultation 4 (International Monetary Fund 2015).

[2] World Trade Organization, Trade Policy Review: Angola 5 (World Trade Organization 2015).

[3] Ibid.

[4] International Monetary Fund (IMF), supra note 1, at 4.

[5] Human Rights Watch, Angola, https://www.hrw.org/africa/angola (last visited Jul. 12, 2017).

[6] Ibid.

[7] André Thomashausen ‘Super-Presidentialism in Angola and the Angolan Judiciary’ in Charles M Fombad (ed) Separation of Powers in African Constitutionalism (Oxford University Press 2016) 182.

[8] See, for example, the following provisions of the 2010 Angolan Constitution: Articles 120(c)(on the national budget), 120(h)(on requests for authorization to legislate), 120(i)(on the initiative to table bills in Parliament), Article 124(on promulgation), 125(on presidential legislative decrees), and 126 (on provisional presidential legislative decrees).

[9] World Bank, ‘Independent Judiciary: TCdata360’, https://tcdata360.worldbank.org/indicators/h75036381?country=BWA&indicator=28753&countries=AGO,COM,COD,SWZ,LSO,MDG,MWI,MUS,MOZ,NAM,SYC,ZAF,TZA,ZMB,ZWE&viz=bar_chart&years=2018, (accessed January 2022).

[10] Lei Orgânica do Tribunal Constitucional, Act 2 of 2008 (17 June 2008) art 10. (Hereinafter ‘LOTC’).

[11] Ibid.

[12] Constitution of the Republic of Angola art 6. Official translation by the Constitutional Commission of the National Assembly (Commissao Constitucional). Hereinafter referred to as ‘Constitution’.

[13] Constitution Art 13.

[14] Judgment No 123/2010.

[15] Judgment No 375/2015.

[16] No. 480-A/2015.

[17] Judgment No. 379/2015.

[18] No. 495/2015 and Judgment No. 380/2015.

[19] No. 515.

[20] Judgment No. 384/2016.