Where does South Africa rank internationally in respecting the rule of law?

A new report shows how South Africa compare to other countries (Photo: Holy Trinity Gateshead UK)

A new report shows how South Africa compare to other countries (Photo: Holy Trinity Gateshead UK)

A summary of the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2012-2013

By Thandeka Kathi

The World Justice Project (not to be confused with the Wits Justice Project) has conducted interesting research on how countries around the world compare in terms of respecting the rule of law.

The World Justice Project is a non-profit organization which works to strengthen the rule of law throughout the world.

The rule of law is based on the principle that no-one is above the law, that the law should be based upon principles which can be discovered, and that laws are created through identifiable processes and not at an individual’s will. “It safeguards against arbitrary governance, dictatorship and mob rule and is central to the stability of government, the preservation of human rights and the economic and social development of society” (LexisNexis, 2012).

I have highlighted some of their findings about South Africa with regard to open governance, security, corruption and the criminal justice system.

Open Government – South Africa has a relatively open government; it ranked 27th in the world, 5th among upper middle income countries and 2nd in Africa. Laws are said to be stable and people can effectively petition to the government and participate in policy discussion.

Sixty-one percent of South Africans surveyed said their local government works “very well” or “fairly well” in providing effective ways to make complaints. Sixty percent said their local government performs “very well” or fairly well” in responding to people’s concerns about community matters. South Africa is 3rd among upper middle income countries when it comes to open government.

Order and Security – Burglary is a problem in South Africa, with 26% of households saying they have been victimised in the last 3 years. This is the 2nd highest rate among upper middle income countries.

South Africa has the 3rd highest murder rate among upper middle income countries.

Vigilante justice is a serious problem, with 54% of the South Africans surveyed reporting that they would rather have a criminal who has committed a serious crime be  beaten by the people than hand him/her over to the authorities unharmed.

Absence of Corruption – Only 5% of South Africans answered “yes”  when asked if they had had to pay a bribe to receive medical attention at a public hospital. However, South African experts answered that government officials are “very likely” to divert public funds for personal use.

Criminal Justice – South Africa was ranked 13th among other upper middle income countries in the delivery of criminal justice. Experts believe that the two key problems faced by correctional institutions are poor rehabilitative programs and recidivism.

Visit the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2012-2013 website.

Thandeka Kathi is the Legal Intern at the Wits Justice Project.

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About witsjusticeproject
The Wits Justice Project combines journalism, advocacy, law and education to make the criminal justice system work better for all.

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