15 June 2011

The Rule of Law Index was published this week as part of the World Justice Project. The index is a way of measuring the reality of the rule of law as experienced by ordinary members in the participating countries.  It is outcome focused (eg absence of corruption rather than the number of police officers).  And New Zealand measures up well – as it has since the first index was released in 2008.  This year New Zealand is in the top 4 places on seven of the eight factors (and 52 sub factors) which make up the index.

A Washington Post article reports …”New Zealand was ranked the least-corrupt nation of 66 examined ….while the U.S. finished an unremarkable 17th. The ranking is another feather in New Zealand’s cap, after the country tied for 1st in…the Transparency International 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index.”

When comparing the sixty six participating countries New Zealand was assessed as follows;

Limited government powers          2nd

Absence of corruption                       1st

Order and security                             11th   (At 10th, only on this factor does Australia rate better than NZ)

Fundamental rights                            3rd

Open government                               2nd

Regulatory enforcement                  3rd

Access to civil justice                        4th

Effective criminal justice                 3rd

The absence of corruption in the judiciary, the military and the police is tarnished somewhat by a perception that the executive branch has lower standards than other parts of government. New Zealand is assessed as strong on protecting the freedom of opinion and expression, for processes on sanctioning misconduct by officials and for the lawful transition of power to successive governments.

The poor evaluation of law and order is a reflection of comparatively low scores for effective control of crime, effectiveness in limiting civil conflict and the extent to which people resort to violence to redress grievances.

New Zealand was given only average ratings for the accessibility, affordability, delay-free and non discriminatory character of civil justice. The effectiveness of the correctional system was also substantially below the rating given to most other subfactors.