Report ranks Egypt with lowest respect for ‘rule of law’

A US-based organization specializing in legal policy issues has ranked Egypt 110 out of 113 nations in its latest report on perceptions of how the rule of law is applied.

Egypt was ranked after Venezuela, Cambodia and Afghanistan in the Rule of Index 2016, taking last place out of seven Middle Eastern nations listed, top of which was the United Arab Emirates.

The report, which is based on the opinions of both ordinary citizens and "experts", ranked Egypt low in all areas relating to the rule of law, including the justice system, regulatory enforcement, security issues, fundamental rights, government powers and corruption.

Egypt scored particularly low in some areas, such as non-governmental oversight of governmental powers, the right to information, freedom of expression and the delays in regulatory enforcement.

However, those surveyed for the report gave more favorable scores for the effectiveness of criminal investigations, the absence of corruption in the justice sytem, and the general absence of crime in the country.

The report is the work of World Justice Project, a US-based organization pushing for changes in legal policy around the world, and their annual report is used to identify nations viewed as requiring particular attention.

Laying out the intentions of the authors, the report states, "We hope this annual publication, anchored in actual experiences, will help identify strengths and weaknesses in each country under review and encourage policy choices that strengthen the rule of law."

The 2016 report's findings are based on surveys from 110,000 households and 2,700 expert surveys in 113 countries and jurisdictions. The organization says its report "measures rule of law based on the experiences and perceptions of the general public and in-country experts worldwide."

While the results do not give an objective assessment of the performance of the countries concerned, they do provide a windown on the perceptions of citizens and experts in each nation. The report authors did not say how they selected their "experts" in each case.

"The Index presents a portrait of the rule of law in each country by providing scores and rankings organized around eight factors including constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice," the report says.

Europe and Scandinavia scored highy in the survey, with the top seven places taken by Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and Austria. The United Kingdom was ranked in 10th place, while the United States was 18th.

With 192 countries in the world, the report provides data on just over half, ignoring those nations where wars are taking place or where the state is so unstable that it cannot provide effective government.

However, perhaps surprisingly, the authors chose to include Afghanistan, which is in the grip of a fierce civil war, sparked by the US-led invasion of 2001. Afghanistan was ranked 102 on the list, just below Egypt.

The report says scores were calculated using a large number of questions drawn from two original data sources: a General Population Poll (GPP) aimed at the general public; and a series of Qualified Respondents’ Questionnaires (QRQs) targeting "experts".

“These two data sources collect up-to-date firsthand information that is not available at the global level, and constitute the world’s most comprehensive dataset of its kind. They capture the experiences and perceptions of ordinary citizens and in-country professionals concerning the performance of the state and its agents and the actual operation of the legal framework in their country,” the report said.

The World Justice Project is a non-profit organization based in Washington DC and founded by Bill Neukom, the former president of the American Bar Association. The oranization lists several members of the US political elite as honorary chairs, including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former White House chief of staff James Baker. Also listed is Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair.

The political composition of the organization's leadership and the conclusions it reaches have led to claims that it is a politically motivated project, targeting those nations that the United States and its allies wish to pressure. Among those nations consistently ranked low is Venezuela, which was at the bottom of the list for both 2015 and 2016. Venezuela has long accused the US government of seeking to bring about regime change, applying political, economic and other means.

Russia was also given a very low ranking this year, at 92, while the United Arab Emirates took a comfortable 33rd place.

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