The WJP Rule of Law Index | Inquirer Opinion
Social Climate

The WJP Rule of Law Index

/ 12:16 AM April 08, 2017

The World Justice Project (WJP) is an independent organization (worldjusticeproject.org) working to advance the rule of law in the world.  Like other advocacy groups, it has designed an international index as a promotional tool.

The WJP Rule of Law Index is based on eight themes: 1) constraints on government powers, 2) absence of corruption, 3) open government, 4) fundamental rights, 5) order and security, 6) regulatory enforcement, 7) civil justice, and 8) criminal justice. A ninth theme, informal justice, is being measured, but is not yet included in the scoring and ranking system.

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WJP Rule of Law Index 2016 is the sixth in a series. It covers 113 countries, as well as jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, which is a very interesting case.

A country’s Index is scored on a scale from zero to one, built up from the scores of the themes, which in turn come from the scores of their own subthemes; there are 44 subthemes in all. The basic data are twofold: a survey of 1,000 households in the general population in three cities, and a survey of selected local legal experts.

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For 2016, the top-ranked country is Denmark (score .89), and the bottom-ranked is Venezuela (score .28).  The WJP report does not attach any label to the scores, but merely color-codes them into .40 or less, .41 to .60, and .61 or more.

The Philippines’ overall score is .51, or a mediocre 70th of 113.  Our geographic group is East Asia & Pacific, where the other overall scores and global rankings are: New Zealand .83, 8th; Singapore .82, 9th; Australia .81, 11th; Japan .78, 15th; Hong Kong .77, 16th; Republic of Korea .73, 19th; Mongolia .54, 55th; Malaysia .54, 56th; Indonesia .54, 61st; Thailand .51, 64th; Vietnam .51, 67th; China .48, 80th; Myanmar .43, 98th; and Cambodia .33, 112th. Thailand and Vietnam are ranked above the Philippines presumably out of deference to the third digit after the decimal point.

What I find most interesting is that Hong Kong’s rule of law is far superior to China’s, even though the former has been a special administrative region of the latter since 1997. Hong Kong is much more like Singapore, with which it has a common—i.e., British—colonial history.

Furthermore, the overall rule in law in China is significantly inferior to that in the Philippines.  We have seen, of course, how China has been disregarding international law with respect to its ambitions in the West Philippine Sea.  Thus, it is clear that Chinese-ness is immaterial to the quality of the prevailing rule of law.

A comparison of fundamental rights.  The rule of law in Singapore and Hong Kong is superior to that in the Philippines in most, but not all, respects.  This is shown in a table of the scores of the eight subthemes under fundamental rights.

In particular, the WJP index rates freedom of expression and freedom of association in the Philippines as superior not only to that in China but also to that in Singapore and Hong Kong. Freedom of religion in the Philippines is almost as high as in Hong Kong and Singapore, and is much superior to that in China.

Sadly, it is with respect to right to life and security and due process of law that the rule of law in the Philippines is inferior to that in China.  For shame!

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SUBTHEMES UNDER THEME 4.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS   SINGAPORE HONG KONG PHILIPPINES      CHINA

4.1 Equal treatment/no discrimination .87 .84 .54 .45

4.2 Right to life and security   .85 .81 .34 .48

4.3 Due process of law     .77 .80 .35 .51

4.4 Freedom of expression .51 .50 .63 .14

4.5 Freedom of religion    .65 .72 .64 .30

4.6 Right to privacy .60 .68 .41 .22

4.7 Freedom of association .54 .52 .65 .18

4.8 Labor rights      .72 .74 .43 .30

SOURCE: WJP RULE OF LAW INDEX 2016.

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