Under President Ian Khama’s administration, Botswana has suffered a gradual regression in the rule of law: government is becoming more dictatorial and less accountable, respect for fundamental human rights is being eroded while corruption has gone up and the justice system is becoming less effective ÔÇô The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2015 has revealed.
Research by the World Justice Project has revealed that Botswana is the only country in the region which showed a downward trend on “constraints on government powers,” during the 2015 review period. The index shows government’s accountability and the extent to which there are adequate checks on executive authority. It 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 law. It also includes non-governmental checks on the government’s power, such as a free and independent press.
Explaining the index, the report states that, “Government checks take many forms: they do not operate solely in systems marked by a formal separation of powers, nor are they necessarily codified in law. What is essential, however is that authority is distributed whether by formal rules or by convention in a manner that ensures that no single organ of government has the practical ability to exercise unchecked power.”
Records show that Between 2012 and 2015, Botswana has dropped from position one to position three in the region and from position 20 to position 32 in the world on accountability and constrains on government powers. The country’s score has also dropped from 0.73 to 0.63 in the period. The project does not have any indices on Botswana prior to 2012. The records however show that Botswana has been regressing in almost all indicators of rule of law between 2012 and 2015.
The country performed the worst on “fundamental human rights” and currently ranks sixth in the region down from fifth during the 2012-2013 review period. Botswana’s global ranking also dropped from 51st in 2012-13 to55 in 2015 while the country score dropped from 0.59 to 0.56 which is considered a very low score. Although Botswana retained its position as the least corrupt country in the region the index suggests a growth in the level of corruption in Botswana between the 2012-13 review period and 2015 with the country’s score dropping significantly from 0.75 to 0.65 and falling in the global rank from 22 to 29.
The reports also showed a weakening of the country’s regulatory authority. This index measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced. Although Botswana retained its position one on the regional ranks, it dropped from position 17 in the global rank during the 2012-13 review period to position 22 during the 2015 review period. The country’s score also went down from 0.71 to 0.66 between the two review periods.
Botswana also slid back on the “criminal justice” and “civil justice” indices. Although Botswana still ranks number one in the region on both indices, the report shows that the country went down five places on the global ranking, from 17 in 2012-12 to 22 in 2015 while its score went down from 0.71 to 0.66. On the criminal justice index, Botswana went down nine positions in the global ranking, from position 18 to position 27 while its score dropped significantly from 0.72 to 0.61.
The only area where Botswana is showing an improvement is on the index of “order and security.” The country has retained its leading position on the regional ranking and has gone up nine places on the global rank from position 37 to position 28 while its score went up from 0.76 to 0.81.