Malta’s global rank for the rule of law remains unchanged, according to the 2022 World Justice Project (WJP) Rule of Law Index in which Malta ranks 30 out of 140 countries surveyed globally.
Malta, however, ranks 22nd out of 31 countries in the EU, European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and North America.
The region’s top performer remains Denmark (ranked first out of 140 globally, followed by Norway and Finland).
In contrast, the three countries with the lowest scores in the regional group are Croatia, Bulgaria, and Hungary (ranked 73 globally).
The WJP project draws on in-depth surveys with more than 154,000 individuals and nearly 4,000 legal practitioners and experts to create the Index.
Each country is measured using eight criteria. These are: constraints on government power, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, and civil and criminal justice.
In all but one of these criteria, Malta ranks in the lower half of the list.
The only category where Malta performs well is Order and Security. In this category, Malta is ranked fifth out of the 31 countries that comprise the EU, EFTA and American regional group.
In the category that looks at the constraints on the government’s power, Malta’s ranked 25 out of 31 countries.
This category measures the extent to which those who govern are bound by law, including the means, both constitutional and institutional, by which the powers of the government and its officials and agents are held accountable under the law. It also looks at non-governmental checks on the government’s control, such as a free and independent press.
Another category that sees Malta slide further down the regional list is regulatory enforcement, where the country is ranked 26 out of 31. This index factor measures the extent to which regulations are fairly and effectively implemented and enforced.
Similarly, Malta places in the lower half of the list (25 out of 31) for both the civil justice category and the open government category (24 out of 31).
The civil justice category assesses whether ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effectively through the civil justice system, including whether court proceedings are conducted without unreasonable delays and whether decisions are enforced effectively.
The open government category measures the openness of government. This is 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 deliberations.
During the presentation of the survey results, Ted Piccone, the Chief Engagement Officer at the World Justice Project, noted that the survey results by WPJ for Europe confirm the findings of other analyses, such as the European Commission’s rule of law report published earlier this year.
The European Commission’s latest rule of law report for Malta noted, among other things, that the number of judges per inhabitant “continues to be among the lowest in the EU”, with the association of judges and magistrates in Malta expressing concern about the lack of resources and adequately trained clerks. As a result of the lack of human and material resources, “the efficiency of the Maltese justice system has continued to deteriorate”.
The issues raised in the European Commission’s rule of law report were the lack of convictions in high-profile corruption cases and the blocking of access to official documents, which led to strong reactions.
Global decline in the rule of law
The report concludes that for the fifth consecutive year, the rule of law has weakened in more countries than in which it has improved (85 deteriorated vs 54 improved countries or 61% vs 39%). This means that more than 4.4 billion people live in countries where the rule of law has declined in the past year.
According to the report’s results, this is equivalent to 56% of the world’s population, and while the rule of law declined in fewer countries in 2022 than in 2021, two-thirds of those countries that saw a decline in 2021 experienced a further decrease in 2022.
This year’s most significant global declines were in the index factors associated with rising authoritarianism and the longer-term erosion of the rule of law. This year, respect for fundamental rights declined in two-thirds of countries. In addition, checks on government powers—such as oversight by the judiciary, legislature, and media—fell in 58% of countries this year.
The World Justice Project (WJP) is ‘an independent, multidisciplinary organisation working to create knowledge and stimulate action to advance the rule of law worldwide’.
Seems this government is competing for the lowest mark. North Korea is Abela’s place to emulate? Previous Labour Government friends were the worst dictators of their time.