Bangladesh has ranked fourth among six South Asian countries on an index that measures a country's adherence to rule of law.
The two countries that did worse than Bangladesh on the WJP (World Justice Project) Rule of Law Index 2019 are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Previous reports show that Bangladesh has consistently ranked fourth among the six South Asian nations in the last four indices. From 2014 to 2018, Bangladesh has always been ahead of Pakistan and Afghanistan as well.
During this period, Nepal always topped the index, except in 2014, when Sri Lanka took the first position. Other than that, Sri Lanka always secured the second position, except in 2016, when India ranked second.
The difference in overall scores between Bangladesh and India is 0.10 in the 2019 index, with India ranking third. Both Nepal and Sri Lanka are ahead of India this year, coming out first and second, respectively.
The WJP index is based on a total of eight factors, including criminal justice, regulatory enforcement and fundamental rights.
Globally, Bangladesh ranked 112th out of 126 countries on the 2019 index. Last year, Bangladesh's position was 102nd out of 113 countries.
Even though Bangladesh levelled up, its overall score (0.41) has remained the same since 2016. In 2015, Bangladesh scored 0.42.
Scores range from 0 to 1, with 1 indicating the strongest adherence to rule of law.
WJP is a Washington-based global civil society organisation seeking to increase public awareness about the foundational importance of the rule of law.
Pakistan scores better in performance indicators
Despite ranking below Bangladesh on the 2019 index, both Pakistan and Afghanistan scored better in two factors – constraints on government powers and fundamental rights.
Bangladesh's previous year's score and latest score in constraints on government powers is the same, but the score in fundamental rights has gone down by 0.01.
Pakistan also scored better than Bangladesh in open government in the latest index. Bangladesh's score in this factor has fallen by 0.02 points, compared to 2018.
Bangladesh scores better in absence of corruption, civil justice
Improvement in the scores of two factors – absence of corruption and civil justice –means Bangladesh's adherence to rule of law has become better.
The WJP index measures rule of law based on the experiences and perceptions of the general public and in-country experts worldwide.
The 2019 dataset was derived from over 120,000 household surveys and 3,800 expert surveys.
What Is Rule of Law?
The WJP defines rule of law as a durable system of laws, institutions, and community commitment that delivers four universal principles:
• Just laws
• Open government
• Access and impartial dispute resolution
Effective rule of law reduces corruption, combats poverty and disease, and protects people from injustices large and small. It is the foundation for communities of justice, opportunity, and peace – underpinning development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights.
Traditionally, the rule of law has been viewed as the domain of lawyers and judges. But everyday issues of safety, rights, justice, and governance affect us all; everyone is a stakeholder in the rule of law.
Despite its profound importance for fair and functioning societies, the rule of law is notoriously difficult to define and measure. A simple way of approaching it is to examine a set of outcomes that the rule of law brings to societies, each of which reflects one aspect of the complex concept of the rule of law.
Rule of law strongest in the Nordics
Four of the five Nordic countries topped the index this year. With an overall score of 0.90, Denmark took the first position.
Norway and Finland achieved the second and third positions, respectively, while Swedencame in at fourth.
The Nordic countries are usually the high performers on global indices, such as education, good governance and human development.