Sunday Jul 03, 2022
Pakistan rejects the World Justice Project’s (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2021 report published in October 2021.
ISLAMABAD: Categorically rejecting the World Justice Project’s (WJP) Rule of Law Index 2021 report published in October 2021, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) on Saturday said that Islamabad’s low ranking on the index was based on perception rather than real data.
Although the WJP’s theoretical framework of evaluation (four principles, nine factors and 44 sub-factors) appeared robust, the LJCP found certain avoidable gaps in their application in general and on Pakistan in particular, read a statement issued by the LJCP.
The LJCP stated that the WJP defined the Rule of Law on four principles: Accountability, Just Law, Open Government and Accessible and Impartial Justice. The index measured the rule of law in countries around the world depending upon the experience and perception of the public on the basis of nine factors monitored under ‘Constraint on Government Power, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Security and Order, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice and Informal Justice.’
It stated that only two factors out of nine, deployed by the WJP for determination of rule of law index across countries, relate to judicial system i.e civil justice and criminal justice, while remaining seven relate to the governance system, executive efficiency and behaviour of the society.
In civil justice, Pakistan was globally ranked at 124 out of 139 jurisdictions, while in criminal justice it was placed at 108 amongst the 139 countries. "It should also be noted that besides the judiciary, these two factors involve other state departments such as the police, prosecution, prisons and the lawyers’ community including the general public.
It is added that in a traditional and heterogeneous society, the casual behaviour of the general public towards litigation hampers its expeditious disposal. However, these underlying factors were not in the control of judiciary anywhere in the country and had been overlooked in the report. The LJCP further added that the methodology employed by the WJP to arrive at the results had raised a number of questions e.g. General Population Poll (GPP) was not carried out afresh when the Rule of Law Index, 2021 was published.
"In Pakistan, Gallup Pakistan conducted face-to-face interviews with 1,000 respondents in 2019 from unidentified cities and this data was used for the Index 2020 and the current year’s Index ranking too. The respondents selected were not only regionally limited but also no information has been added whether they had any direct exposure or experience of interaction with any legal or justice sector related department in Pakistan.
"Survey based on such a small sample, limited areas and unrepresentative selection do not accurately reflect the opinion of 230 million population. Furthermore, the data collected was based on a ‘presumptive scenario’ and ‘perception’ of the respondents without actual statistics being consulted during evaluation.”
Neither the LJCP nor the correlated data on its website or such like institutions were considered while evaluating the performance relating to administration of justice in Pakistan, the press release added.
The LJCP clarified that the title of the report ‘Rule of Law Index’ also created an impression that it was focused on the performance of the judicial organ of the state. The inherent problem of the expression ‘Rule of Law’ was that it was a frequently used term but rarely defined. A globally accepted definition of the rule of law was yet to be agreed upon by the nations.
"Given this, there is a need to distinguish between the judicial system and the rule of law. It appears the report fails to appreciate relationship between the two," it added.
It stated that the judiciary in Pakistan had always upheld the rule of law and ensured the expeditious disposal of the cases.
The National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC), the LJCP said, resolved that Pakistan's judicial system would not disappoint the people and the courts had even worked dedicatedly and steadfastly during the Covid pandemic.
During the years 2021-2022, the courts decided 5.62 million cases against institution of 5.47 million, thereby, reducing the backlog which reflected the judiciary's commitment to ensure expeditious disposal of cases as envisaged in National Judicial Policy against all odds as well as showing the people's trust in it as indicated in WJP, Rule of Law Report 2017 too, it added. The LJCP said its Secretariat wrote on June 23 to the Executive Director, of the World Justice Project, Washington at its email (wjpworldjusticeproject.org) about its concerns, and asked it that prior to conducting its evaluation in future, the issues raised by it were taken into consideration so that a true and accurate picture, especially relating to Pakistan’s judiciary was thereby presented.
The WJP, however, did not respond with any details about contacting its team. The email address mentioned at its website was generic and there was no confirmation of the receipt of our letter. "We look forward to a response from WJP regarding the concerns raised by the LJCP," it added.