Australia has dropped out of the top 10 in global rankings on adherence to the rule of law, with annual global results showing more countries declined than improved their performance.
Australia now stands at 11th place out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project index.
The score places Australia second out of 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, and also 11th out of 38 high income countries.
The country’s best result was in ‘open government’ and its poorest in ‘order and security’.
New Zealand was the top performer in the region while the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia were the worst.
The index measures how the rule of law is experienced and perceived by the general public worldwide based on more than 120,000 household and 3800 expert surveys in the 126 countries.
It measures performance based on constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice.
For the second year in a row, the scores showed a continuing negative slide towards weaker rule of law around the world.
Scores for ‘constraints on government power’ declined in more countries than any other factor over the past year.
This measure tracks the extent to which those who govern are bound by checks such as an independent judiciary, a free press and the ability of legislatures to apply oversight.
World Justice Project executive director Elizabeth Anderson fears the worsening results point to a rise in authoritarianism.
‘This slide in rule of law in general and checks on government powers in particular is deeply concerning,’ she said on Thursday night.
The second largest decline for the year was in the area of criminal justice, followed by open government and fundamental rights.
However, more countries improved in ‘absence of corruption’ than declined for the second year in a row.
The top three overall performers were Denmark, Norway and Finland while the bottom three were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia and Venezuela.
WORLD JUSTICE PROJECT INDEX TOP 10:
8. New Zealand
WORLD JUSTICE PROJECT INDEX BOTTOM 10:
124. Democratic Republic of Congo