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Rights group releases second annual rule of law report

The World Justice Project [official website] on Monday released its second annual report [text, PDF] ranking countries by their adherence to the rule of law. The Rule of Law Index (RLI) [report backgrounder] is a tool by which the international legal community evaluates whether government officials are held accountable under the law, whether the laws are clear and protect fundamental rights, whether the laws afford due process to citizens, and whether adjudicators and representatives have the resources to adequately administer justice. Countries in Western Europe and North America received the highest ranks in most categories, but showed weakness with respect to discrimination and accessibility of the civil justice system, especially for marginalized groups. Several Latin American and Caribbean nations displayed strength in government accountability and openness, but crime remains rampant and governments inefficient. Similarly, Eastern European countries are dichotomized, with some countries leading in accountability and transparency and others trailing with respect to treatment of prisoners and enforcement of the rule of law. New Zealand ranked highest out of the East Asian and Pacific nations category; Cambodia ranked lowest. African nations generally had the lowest rankings in most categories.

A survey released by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation [advocacy website] in October 2010 detailed a decline in the rule of law [JURIST report] and democratic rights amongst African nations. In November 2010, Mexican President Felipe Calderon [official website, in Spanish] called for greater adherence to the rule of law, stressing [JURIST report] its importance for a flourishing economy and orderly social life. US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile; JURIST news archive], in an October 2009 speech, reiterated [JURIST report] the need for authorities to abide by the rule of law when conducting investigations into potential terrorist activities as a means of "leading by example." The RLI was initially presented [JURIST report] at the World Justice Forum [official website] in Vienna in 2008.

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