This section contains a brief description of the legal system of Ethiopia.

The ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short-lived Italian occupation during the Second World War from 1936-41.

In 1974, a military junta, the Derg, deposed Emperor Haile Selassie, who had ruled since 1930, and established a socialist state.

In 1991 a coalition of rebel forces, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), overthrew the regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam, who had been a member of the Communist military junta that governed Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987, and who was President of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from 1987. A constitution was adopted in 1994, and Ethiopia's first multiparty elections were held in 1995.

Meles Zenawi, who lead Ethiopia since 1991, died in August 2012, leaving a power vacuum. Hailemariam Desalegn, the deputy prime minister, took control of the country, as stipulated in the constitution. In October 2013 Mulatu Teshome was elected President and  Desalegn became Prime Minister.

A border war with Eritrea late in the 1990s ended with a peace treaty in December 2000. In November 2007, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission remotely demarcated the border by geographical coordinates. Final demarcation of the boundary is on hold because of Ethiopian objections to an international commission's finding requiring it to surrender territory considered sensitive to Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has a civil law system.

Ethiopia has a constitution dating from 1994 which includes a prohibition against inhuman treatment and provides for the rights of arrested persons.

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