Russia overshadowed by Scandinavian neighbors in Rule of Law index
MOSCOW, 28 November - RAPSI. The World Justice Project (WJP) released on Wednesday its 2012 Rule of Law Index, a detailed analysis of where the countries of the world stand in relation to one another with respect to practically adhering to the Rule of Law.
The WJP defines the Rule of Law as a system in which four imperatives are honored: “The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law; The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property; The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient; Justice is delivered by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.”
In drafting its report, the WPJ focused on eight key factors: limitations on government powers, corruption levels, order and security, the protection of fundamental rights, governmental transparency, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.
Sweden and Denmark, WJP heroes
The Rule of Law is strongly adhered to in Scandinavia, according to the WJP. Sweden, Denmark, and Norway delivered consistently high scores in light of all factors considered.
Sweden ranked first in terms of the absence of corruption, fundamental rights, open government, and regulatory enforcement. It doesn’t stop there: Sweden ranks within the top ten of all of the factors considered. The WJP noted that Sweden’s administrative agencies and courts are among the world’s best in terms of transparency and effectiveness.
Denmark ranked first in terms of limited government powers and criminal justice. Like Sweden, Denmark ranked within the top 10 of all factors considered. Denmark’s public institutions are lauded for their transparency, efficiency, and freedom from corruption. The report noted, however, that police are seen as somewhat discriminatory toward foreigners and ethnic minorities.
Norway ranked first in terms of civil justice. Its government is described as accountable and open, and its regulatory agencies as effective. The courts are independent, but are somewhat less efficient than those of Norway’s neighboring countries. Like their Danish counterparts, Norwegian police are perceived as being somewhat discriminatory toward foreigners and ethnic minorities.
Singapore ranked first in terms of order and security, attesting to the fact that these attributes are not always enormously compatible with such other factors as fundamental rights and limited government powers. Singapore also received high marks in the fields of corruption and criminal justice. It was criticized, however, for substantially limiting the freedoms of speech and assembly.
As far as the WJP is concerned, 2012 wasn’t a great year for the Rule of Law in Russia, the ranks of which remained consistently low regardless of the particular dimension being considered. Of 97 countries considered, Russia received the following ranks for each of the nine dimensions: limited government powers – 92, absence of corruption – 71, order and security – 92, fundamental rights – 83, open government – 74, regulatory enforcement – 68, civil justice – 65, and criminal justice – 78.
Needless to say, Russia did not keep the most savory of company where it fell in the rankings. In terms of limitations on government powers, it only ranked above Nicaragua, Cameroon, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Uzbekistan. The only countries that ranked worse than Russia in terms of order and security were Uganda, Nigeria, Colombia, India, and Pakistan. To be fair, a number of countries that certainly wouldn’t have drawn in high scores were not considered, such as Somalia and perhaps the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The WJP described serious deficiencies in Russia’s system of checks and balances, characterized by “corruption, impunity, and political interference.” The sense of accessibility of Russia’s civil courts is marred, according to the report, by popular perceptions of such as corrupt. Likewise, Russia’s criminal justice system was lauded as effective but criticized as corrupt and plagued by due process violations. Furthermore, the fundamental freedoms of opinion, association, and privacy were inadequately protected. The report did note Russia’s strengths, however, in “strong enforcement of labor rights and a relatively efficient disposition of administrative proceedings.”
The rankings appeared even bleaker when placed into regional and income-group ranking contexts. Of the 20 countries constituting Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Russia ranked consistently in the bottom five: limited government powers – 20, absence of corruption – 15, order and security – 21, fundamental rights – 19, open government – 18, regulatory enforcement – 15, civil justice – 16, and criminal justice – 17.
Of the 30 countries included in the upper middle income bracket, Russia received the following scores: limited government powers – 29, absence of corruption – 25, order and security – 29, fundamental rights – 27, open government – 25, regulatory enforcement – 24, civil justice – 21, and criminal justice – 26.
Rule of Law hall of shame
Still, it could be worse. Russia did not rank 97th in terms of any of the factors considered. The biggest Rule of Law losers considered by WJP are the following: limited government powers – Uzbekistan, absence of corruption – Cameroon, order and security – Pakistan, fundamental rights – Iran, open government – Zimbabwe, regulatory enforcement – Liberia, civil justice – Bangladesh, and criminal justice – Venezuela.