The buzz words of recent in many corners have been ‘good governance’. It is a phrase that encompasses all areas in a country’s administration ranging from policies and finances to national security and the rule of law. Many have been clamouring for it, indicating that its absence has been duly noted in various areas. To be noted is that the observers are not only among the citizenry of Belize but rather from the international scene as well.
An international report was recently released by the World Justice Project that focuses on increasing public awareness on the importance of the rule of law whilst stimulating policy reforms and developing practical, on the ground programs aimed at enhancing the rule of law. In this recent report, one hundred and thirteen countries were assessed from around the world with Belize placing eighty second, scoring point four seven out of a maximum score of one.
There were eight areas that were looked at namely, Constraints on Government Powers; Absence of Corruption; Open Government; Fundamental Rights; Order and Security; Regulatory Enforcement; Civil Justice and Criminal Justice. Of these eight areas, Belize scored high with a point seven in the area of Order and Security; its lowest score being in the area of Criminal Justice with a point three two.
Each area had its subsections and in the area of Order and Security where Belize scored well, the project looked at issues such as absence of crime, absence of civil conflict and the absence of violent redress. As it relates to corruption, the report looked at the absence of corruption in a number of government agencies. This factor considers three forms of corruption: bribery, improper influence by public or private interests and misappropriation of public funds or other resources. These three forms of corruption are examined with respect to government officers in the executive branch; the judiciary; the military and police and the legislature. It encompasses a wide range of possible situations in which corruption, from petty bribery to major kinds of fraud can occur.
In this area, Belize scored point four eight with its lowest score being in the area of corruption in the legislature. While globally Belize ranked at 82, in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, Belize ranked at twenty two out of thirty. The report has listed Attorneys Anthony Sylvestre and Melissa Balderamos Mahler, VMD Lizarraga as well as anonymous contributors as its source of references in Belize; while face to face polling interviews were conducted in Belize City, Belmopan and San Ignacio back in 2014 for the compilation of this report.
Scoring the highest with a point eight nine is Denmark while Venezuela ranked last with a score of point two eight. Our neighbours Guatemala and Mexico ranked at ninety seven and eighty eight respectively.