Aruba’s legal system is based on the civil law system, as in use throughout most of the world. The main difference between our system of law and the common law system is the fact that we do not have juries or grand juries. In Aruba, the investigation by the police and prosecutor is checked and balanced by a judge of the Court of First Instance. The investigating judge conducts all interrogations of witnesses during the investigation of the crime. The trial itself is conducted and decided (including sentencing) by another judge, and the final verdict can be appealed. The suspect can appeal decisions made by the judge through the Court of Appeals.
Historically, Aruba has been part of the Netherlands Antilles, a six island federation, which also included Bonaire, Curacao, St.Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius. On January 1st, 1986, Aruba became a separate entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Kingdom now consists of three constituents: Holland, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles (5 islands).
Aruba has its own constitution, based on Western democratic principles. The Queen of the Netherlands appoints the governor of Aruba who holds office for a 6-year term and acts as her representative.
Legislative, executive and judicial powers are vested in parliament which is housed in Aruba’s capital, Oranjestad. The Aruban parliament consists of 21 members elected by universal suffrage.
The party (or parties) obtaining legislative majority are asked by the Governor to form a 7- member Council of Ministers vested with executive powers and headed by a Prime Minister.
Jurisdiction in Aruba lies with a common court of Justice of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles and a Supreme Court of Justice in the Netherlands.
Although Aruba has a separate status, it still retains strong economic, cultural, political and defense ties with Holland and her “sister” islands. In fact, although matters such as aviation, customs, immigration, communications and other internal matters are handled autonomously by the Aruban government; the Kingdom is still responsible for defense, citizenship, and foreign affairs.