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New Zealand rates highly in law index

New Zealand is the top-ranking country in the East Asia and Pacific region when it comes to the rule of law, according to an index.

The World Justice Project's 2012 Rule of Law Index places New Zealand ahead of Australia, Japan and South Korea in the assessment of the absence of corruption, open government and fundamental rights.

It rates in the top-10 globally in seven of eight measurements of 97 countries assessed by the non-profit organisation.

"New Zealand stands out as the best performer in the region. Government agencies and courts in the country are efficient, transparent, and free of corruption. Fundamental rights are strongly protected," the report said.

While the judicial system was praised for being accessible, independent, free of corruption and effective, the report found justice was perceived to be slow relative to other high income countries.