Saturday, June 18, 2011
In addition to its expanded coverage--up from 35 countries in the 2010 Index--the 2011 Index includes some methodological changes and new data on transition of power, civil conflict, freedom of assembly and association, due process in administrative proceedings, and criminal recidivism. The four "universal principles," however, remain (predictably) unchanged from the 2010 Index:
- The government and its officials and agents are accountable under the law.
- The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and fair, and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property.
- The process by which the laws are enacted, administered and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient.
- Access to justice is provided by competent, independent, and ethical adjudicators, attorneys or representatives, and judicial officers who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
Here's the Index's summary on the United States:
The United States obtains high marks in most dimensions of the rule of law. The country stands out for its well-functioning system of checks and balances and for its good results in guaranteeing civil liberties among its people including the rights of association, opinion and expression, religion, and petition. The civil justice system is independent and free of undue influence, but it remains inaccessible to disadvantaged groups (ranking 21st). Legal assistance is expensive or unavailable (ranking 52nd), and the gap between rich and poor individuals in terms of both actual use of and satisfaction with the civil court system remains significant. In addition, there is a general perception that ethnic minorities and foreigners receive unequal treatment from the police and the courts.