The Republic of Peru (hereinafter Peru) is a democratic country, regulated under the principles of a free-market economy.
The branches of its government are the judiciary, the executive, and the legislative.
Peru follows the civil law tradition. Written statutes and codes are essential in this system.
Unlike the US, Peru is a unitary country that is divided into 25 regions under the control of a central authority.
Peru has a presidential system, under which the President is head of state, head of government, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The President is elected for five (5) years and consecutive re-election is forbidden.
The ordinary judiciary structure is divided into criminal, administrative, constitutional, and civil courts. The court structure is composed hierarchically (from higher to lower) as follows:
Under the due process principle, all persons under the jurisdiction of the said courts have the right to appeal. Therefore, there will always be a court that settles the controversy in the first instance and another one that will hear the appeal, if filed.
Military personnel and police forces are subject to a special court when they commit an offense in the line of duty. Rural communities, arbitration issues, as well as electoral proceedings, and matters related to the judges' performance also have special jurisdictions.
Likewise, as a final instance, the Constitutional Tribunal has competence to decide about the violation of constitutional rights and, as a sole instance, when dealing with the constitutionality of a statute or norm of similar hierarchy, among other situations.
The legal hierarchy of laws at the national level is as follows:
The official Gazette is known as "Diario Oficial El Peruano". It is published daily and contains statutes and codes, regulations in general, as well as proposed rules, among others.
The current Constitution was adopted in 1993; since then it has been amended. Its official version is in Spanish.
An English version of the Constitution and a list of its amendments are also available.
Human rights treaties have the same legal standing as the Constitution. Other international treaties of which Peru is a party have the same hierarchy as statutes.
Unicameral congress makes laws. The executive has also limited power to issue executive orders that have the effect of law.
Part of Peruvian legislation is organized through codes that cover specific subject matters. Some of them are:
Regulations at the national level are promulgated by the executive. They are classified by number and nature (decrees, ministerial resolutions, directoral resolutions, among others).
Generally, lower courts are not required to follow previous decisions made by higher courts. In specific circumstances, decisions from the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Tribunal have a binding effect similar to common law jurisdictions.
Some legal terms that are relevant to know are:
Decreto Legislativo: Legislative Decree
Decreto Ley: Decree-law
Decreto de Urgencia: Urgency Decree
Ley (ordinaria): (Ordinary) Statute
Ley Orgánica: Organic Statute
Ordenanza Municipal: Municipal Ordinanza
Regional Ordinance: Ordenanza Regional
Reglamento del Congreso: Congress Regulation
Resolución directoral: Directoral resolution
Tratado internacional: International treaty
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The author wants to express his gratitude to Walter Martínez Laura and Manuel Bermúdez Tapia for their feedback and suggestions on the content of this research guide.
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