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By World Justice Project
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Washington, DC– Ghana has been found to rank first among Sub-Saharan African countries in five of nine dimensions of the rule of law, according to the World Justice Project's Rule of Law IndexTM, a new tool designed to measure countries' adherence to the rule of law.

Formally unveiled for the first time in Washington, DC, this week, the Index provides new data regarding a variety of dimensions of the rule of law—such as whether government officials are accountable under the law, and whether legal institutions protect fundamental rights and allow ordinary people access to justice.

“The rule of law is the predicate for the eradication of poverty, violence, corruption, pandemics, and other threats to civil society,” said William H. Neukom, WJP Founder, President and CEO. “Every person on this planet deserves a fair shake, but far too many of them live in communities without justice, and therefore without hope. This is intolerable.”

Ghana's highest scores
According to the study—which introduces 37 indicators on the rule of law for 35 countries—Ghana ranks first among African nations in five of nine categories —government accountability, absence of corruption, clear and stable laws, fundamental rights, and criminal justice— and places in the global top 15 in two of them.

Ghana's highest score is in the area of effective limits on government powers (checks and balances), where the country ranks 12th and ahead of countries like South Africa or Argentina. Within this category, Ghana outperforms most other countries in guaranteeing freedom of expression.

Ghana's lowest scores
Ghana's lowest scores are in the area of order and security, ranking 26th out of 35 nations indexed, which is explained by the higher rates of crime and vigilante justice. According to a Rule of Law Index poll of 1,000 people in Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale in 2009, 27 percent of respondents reported having experienced a burglary in the past three years. This rate is among the highest in the world.

According to the same poll, the majority of people in Ghana state it is more likely for a suspected criminal to be beaten by neighbors than to be turned over to authorities.

Kenya, Liberia and Nigeria
Kenya's highest scores were in the areas of order and security, and effective criminal justice. The lowest scores were in the areas of limited government powers, access to impartial justice, and availability of public information.

Liberia's highest scores were in the areas of limited government powers and freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of religion. The lowest scores were in the areas of effective enforcement of civil justice, access to legal counsel, and absence of vigilante justice.

Nigeria's highest scores were in the areas of effective regulatory enforcement and access to civil justice. The lowest scores were in the areas of independent audit and review of government agencies, access to impartial justice, and availability of public information.

A new tool for measuring justice
“The Index measures how laws are implemented and enforced in practice and affect people's lives,” said Juan Botero, Director of the WJP Rule of Law Index. “Comparable, reliable and comprehensive data on these issues are not sufficiently available today; the Rule of Law Index intends to fill this void.”

The Index's rankings and scores are the product of a rigorous data collection and aggregation process. Data comes from a global poll of the general public and detailed questionnaires administered to local legal experts. To date, over 35,000 regular citizens and 900 experts from around the world have participated.

Path forward
The Index currently covers 35 countries around the world and is set to expand to 70 countries by 2011 and 100 countries by 2012.

“Achieving the rule of law is a constant challenge and a work in progress in all countries. The WJP's Rule of Law Index is not designed to shame or blame, but to provide useful reference points for countries in the same regions, with comparable legal cultures and similar income levels,” said Hongxia Liu, the Executive Director of the World Justice Project.