Sunday, February 5, 2023

Botswana’s justice system regresses – Law Index

Botswana’s score in the World Justice Project’s annual Rule of Law Index is not impressive.

The report, which was released at the time when the country is still reeling from judiciary crisis, shows that Botswana registered a one-place drop in the civil justice factor from 49th to 50th place.

The country has been ranked 51 out of 140 countries again as the judiciary reels from serious allegations of interference by the executive.

The index is built based on eight factors being constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice.

The report, which was released at the time when the country is still reeling from judiciary crisis, shows that Botswana registered a one-place drop in the civil justice factor from 49 to 50 place. 

The civil justice factor measures whether ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effectively through the civil justice system. It also measures whether or not civil justice systems are accessible and affordable as well as free of discrimination, corruption, and improper influence by public officials.

It examines whether or not court proceedings are conducted without unreasonable delays and whether or not decisions are enforced effectively. It also measures the accessibility, impartiality, and effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

Regulatory enforcement was also down from 40 to 41 position. Regulatory enforcement measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced. Regulations, both legal and administrative, structure behaviors within and outside of the government.

This factor does not assess which activities a government chooses to regulate, nor does it consider how much regulation of a particular activity is appropriate. Rather, it examines how regulations are implemented and enforced.

Regarding constraints on government powers factor Botswana is up five positions, from 49 to 44 place. Constraints on government powers measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law. It comprises the means, both constitutional and institutional, by which the powers of the government and its officials and agents are limited and held accountable under the law. It also includes non-governmental checks on the government’s power, such as a free and independent press.

The report shows that Botswana is down one place in absence of corruption indicator this year, from 47 to 48 position. The absence of corruption indicator measures the absence of corruption in government. The factor considers three forms of corruption: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of public funds or other resources.

These three forms of corruption are examined with respect to government officers in the executive branch, the judiciary, the military, police, and the legislature.

Regarding the open government indicator, Botswana is up one position to 80 from 81. The open government indicator measures the openness of government defined by the extent to which a government shares information, empowers people with tools to hold the government accountable, and fosters citizen participation in public policy.

In terms of the fundamental rights indicator, Botswana is up three positions to 62 from 65 place. This indicator recognizes that a system of positive law that fails to respect core human rights established under international law is at best “rule by law,” and does not deserve to be called a rule of law system. Since there are many other indices that address human rights, and because it would be impossible for the Index to assess adherence to the full range of rights, this factor focuses on a relatively modest menu of rights that are firmly established under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and are most closely related to rule of law concerns.

Regarding the criminal justice factor Botswana is up three positions to 32 from 35. This factor evaluates a country’s criminal justice system. An effective criminal justice system is a key aspect of the rule of law, as it constitutes the conventional mechanism to redress grievances and bring action against individuals for offenses against society. An assessment of the delivery of criminal justice should take into consideration the entire system, including the police, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, and prison officers. Meanwhile the report shows that overall, in Africa, Botswana was ranked 4th out of 34th countries in Africa with Rwanda ranked the top performer in the continent. Other top performers in Africa are: Mauritius (45th globally), Namibia (46th globally), and South Africa (54th globally).

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