U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2005 - Andorra
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||8 March 2006|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2005 - Andorra , 8 March 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4418219516.html [accessed 19 April 2015]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 8, 2006
Andorra is a constitutional parliamentary democracy with a population of approximately 77 thousand. Two Princes – the President of France and the Catholic Bishop of Seu d'Urgell Spain – serve with joint authority as heads of state, and a delegate represents each in the country. Elections in April chose 28 members of the "Consell General" (parliament) that selects the head of government and were free and fair. The civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and the judiciary provided effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. The following human rights problems were reported:
- prolonged pretrial detention
- violence against women and children
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions generally met international standards, and the government permitted visits by independent human rights observers.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The country has no defense force and depends on Spain and France for external defense. The national police, which have sole responsibility for internal security, are organized into four areas: public security, technical support, borders and traffic, and crime. Corruption was not a problem; however, if corruption or serious irregularities were discovered, then disciplinary proceedings were initiated. Police received training in and outside Europe. Some police members received training in Europe during the year.
Arrest and Detention
Police may legally detain persons for 48 hours without charging them with a crime. Warrants are required for arrest. The law does not provide individuals under arrest immediate access to an attorney. Legislation provides for legal assistance beginning 25 hours after the time of arrest. There was a system of bail.
There were no reports of political detainees.
Lengthy pretrial detention occurred, and the ombudsman has criticized it. Lengthy pretrial detention was due to staff shortages and a large number of detainees. Pretrial detainees made up approximately 30 percent of the prison population.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected this provision in practice.
The judiciary includes the magistrate's court and the court of courts. Once sentencing is announced there is a 10-day period to present an appeal to the magistrate's court. Upon acceptance of appeal the report is sent to the court of courts where the two parties are requested to return within a 15-day period. If the appellant or a legal representative makes no physical appearance before the court within the 15-day period then the appeal is declared void. The highest judicial body is the five-member superior council of justice. Each member is appointed by one of the following: the two princes; the head of government; the president of the parliament; and collectively, members of the lower courts.
The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Trials are public and defendants can request a jury. Defendants have the right to present evidence and consult with an attorney. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, and they have the right to appeal.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice and did not restrict academic freedom. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to ensure freedom of speech and of the press.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The law provides for the freedoms of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights in practice.
c. Freedom of Religion
The law provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice. Under the law, the Roman Catholic Church and the State have a special relationship; however, the Catholic Church received no direct subsidies from the government.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts against the approximately 300-person Jewish community.
For a more detailed discussion see the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The law provides for these rights, and the government generally respected them in practice.
The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not employ it.
Protection of Refugees
The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. In practice the government provided some protection against refoulement, the return of persons to a country where they feared persecution. The government did not grant refugee status or asylum.
The government cooperated with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The law provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Parliamentary elections in April were considered free and fair and allowed the conservative Andorran Liberal Party to remain in power. The party won 14 out of 28 seats in parliament. The Social Democratic Party won 12 seats and the Andorran Democrat Center Party along with the Segle 21 "Century 21" won 2 seats.
There were 8 women in the 28-seat parliament, and 3 women in the 11-seat cabinet.
There were no members of minorities in the 28-seat parliament, and there were no minorities in the 11-seat cabinet.
Government Corruption and Transparency
There were no reports of government corruption during the year.
The law provides for public access to government information, and the government permitted access in practice for citizens and noncitizens, including foreign media.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were very cooperative and responsive to their views.
An ombudsman received and addressed complaints, some of which were against the government's policies. Theombudsman was free of government control, and the government was generally responsive to the ombudsman's recommendations.
5. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The law declares that all persons are equal before the law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of birth, race, gender, origin, opinions, or any other personal or social condition; however, the law grants many rights and privileges exclusively to citizens.
Violence against women was a problem, and, according to the ministry of health, welfare, and family, violence against women increased slightly during the year; there were more than 100 reports of physical abuse at year's end. There is no specific legislation prohibiting domestic violence, although other laws may be applied in such cases. Women, who suffered from domestic violence, requested help from the Andorran International Women's Association (AIWA) and the Andorran Women's Association (AAW), but rarely filed a complaint with the police for fear of reprisal. Approximately 50 persons were prosecuted for violence against women during the year. The government had a hot line and provided medical and psychological services to victims of domestic violence but did not have any shelters.
The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, which is punishable by up to 15 years' imprisonment. The law was effectively enforced in practice. The government had a hot line and provided medical and psychological services to rape victims but did not have any shelters.
Prostitution is illegal and was not a problem.
Sexual harassment is not prohibited; however, it was not a problem.
The law prohibits discrimination against women privately or professionally; however, the AAW reported that there were many cases of women dismissed from employment due to pregnancy. Women did not earn equal pay for equal work; observers estimated that women earned 35percent less than men for comparable work although this gap continued to decrease slowly.
The government was committed to children's welfare. Free, universal public education began at age 4 and was compulsory until age 16. The government provided free nursery schools, although their number continued to be insufficient. Reportedly 100 percent of school age children attended school. Secondary school was the highest level achieved by most students. Secondary school also was the maximum level of public school offered, since no university existed in the country.
Healthcare was free, and boys and girls had equal access.
Although violence against children was a problem, according to the secretariat of state for the family, the number of cases was low, and the incidence of child abuse decreased slightly during the year.
Trafficking in Persons
The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons; however, there were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the provision of other state services, and the government enforced it effectively; however, societal discrimination against persons with disabilities existed on a small scale, in the form of social and cultural barriers. The law mandates access to public buildings for persons with disabilities, and the government generally enforced this provision in practice.
Some immigrant workers complained that they did not have the same labor rights as citizens (see section 6.e.).
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The law allows workers to form and join unions of their choice without previous authorization or excessive requirements, and workers exercised these rights in practice. Antiunion discrimination is not prohibited under the law, and workers were sometimes reluctant to admit to union membership, fearing employer retaliation.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The law allowsunions to conduct their activities without interference, and the government protected this right in practice. The law does not specifically provide for collective bargaining. Wages are determined by the annual cost of living. The law does not provide for the right to strike, and there were no strikes during the year. There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law does not prohibit forced and compulsory labor, including by children; however, there were no reports that such practices occurred.
d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
Children under the age of 18 generally were prohibited from working, except in very limited circumstances. The labor inspection office in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Public Health, and Labor effectively enforced child labor regulations.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The national minimum wage of $7.20 (6 euros) per hour, and $984 (820 euros) per month did not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. The labor inspection office enforced the minimum wage effectively.
The law limits the workweek to 40 hours, although employers may require up to 66 hours per month and 426 hours per year overtime from workers. The law provides for premium pay for overtime.There was a required rest period every day. Employees work a regular 8 hours plus they are allowed to work 3 extra hours a day or 15 per week.
The labor inspection service set occupational health and safety standards and effectively enforced them. During the year the labor inspection service filed approximately 195 complaints against companies for violating labor regulations, and it had the authority to levy sanctions and fines against such companies. Although the law authorizes employees to refuse certain tasks if their employers do not provide the necessary level of protection, no legislation grants workers the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardizing their continued employment.