Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Andorra

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1995
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Andorra, 30 January 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa4820.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
 

 

Andorra became a parliamentary democracy in March 1993 when a popular referendum approved its Constitution. Two Co-Princes--the President of France and the Spanish Bishop of Seu d'Urgell (each represented in Andorra by a delegate)--serve coequally as Heads of State, with limited powers; they have no veto over the Government. The Executive Council, composed of the Head of Government (elected by the Parliament) and seven ministers, implements the Constitution and the laws. The Parliament is popularly elected. The judiciary functions independently.

Andorra has no military forces. The small internal police force respects constitutional rights and individual freedoms.

The market-based economy is dependent on those of neighboring France and Spain. In 1994 it showed recovery from the recent recession, with tourism becoming an increasingly important source of revenue. Owing to banking secrecy laws, the financial-services sector is also growing in importance.

There were no reports of human rights abuses. The 1993 Constitution provides for "respect and promotion of liberty, equality, justice, tolerance, defense of human rights and dignity of the person," and the Government respects this. The adoption of the Constitution led to formation of political parties, which participated in the first democratic elections.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution guarantees all persons the "right to physical and moral integrity" and states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. There were no reports of violations. Penal conditions are exemplary. Persons convicted of crimes with a penalty of more than one year must serve out their terms either in France or in Spain.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, and the authorities respect this provision. Police must obtain a court warrant prior to making an arrest or within 48 hours of it, and must lodge a charge within 48 hours of it. A detainee has the right to be informed of charges, to choose a lawyer (or if indigent, have one provided at no cost), and to have access to family members. The judge may decide to grant release on bail. Pretrial detention is limited to 3 months.

The law does not provide for exile, and it is not practiced.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is independent and free of interference from the Government. The highest body is the five-member Superior Council of Justice. One member each is appointed by: the two Co-Princes; the Head of Government; the President of the Parliament; and, collectively, members of the lower courts.

The Constitution provides for the presumption of innocence. The defendant has the right to confront and present witnesses, to avoid self-incrimination, and to appeal the verdict.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Constitution provides safeguards against arbitrary interference with "privacy, honor, and reputation," and the authorities honor these. No searches of any private premises may be conducted without a juridically issued warrant. The law also protects private communications.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of expression, of communication, and of access to information, and it expressly prohibits censorship and any other means of ideological control. The Government fully respects these provisions.

There are two radio stations, one public and one private. Two newspapers and three magazines are published locally. Publications from abroad enter and circulate freely.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right to meet and assemble for any lawful purpose. The Government does not restrict this freedom. Organizers of a public event need no permit for it.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government does not hamper the teaching or practice of any faith. The Government pays Roman Catholic priests a monthly stipend at the level of the minimum wage. Religion is not a required subject in the nonparochial schools, including those sponsored by France or Spain.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the County, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

There are no restrictions on domestic or foreign travel, on emigration, or on repatriation.

The Government has no formal asylum policy; it evaluates asylum requests on a case-by-case basis. While Andorra has a long tradition of providing asylum to political refugees, none are resident at present.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

All adult citizens enjoy the right to vote by secret ballot. If the Head of Government loses a vote of confidence--as happened in December--the Parliament chooses a replacement, failing which, new elections are held.

The two Co-Princes are each represented by a delegate in Andorra who holds the rank of Ambassador. The unicameral Parliament is composed of four to six representatives from each of the seven parishes. Elections are held at 4-year intervals. Half of the 28 representatives are elected on the basis of 2 per parish, and half on the basis of the size of population per parish.

Women have enjoyed full suffrage since 1970, but they continue to play a relatively minor role in politics. Notwithstanding the absence of formal barriers, few women have run for office; only 1 of the 28 Members of Parliament is a woman, and only 2 women have occupied cabinet-level positions.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

While there are no legal or informal restrictions, no human rights organizations operate in this tiny nation.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution declares that all persons are considered equal before the law, and it prohibits discrimination on grounds of "birth, race, sex, origin, religion, opinions, or any other personal or social condition." The Government fully respects these provisions, which apply not only to citizens but also to legal residents (who constitute a large majority of the population of Andorra).

Women

The law does not discriminate against women. It treats sexual violence as a criminal offense. Data on violence against women are not available, but police sources say there is no pattern of abuse by spouses or other family members, and they have no recorded cases of battery of women or of rape. The Government has no shelters for abused women, and asserts there is no need for such facilities.

Children

The law does not explicitly provide for children's rights. There is a public shelter for abused or abandoned children. Over the past 12 years there has been just one known case of child abuse.

People with Disabilities

Not all public buildings and public places provide access for physically disabled persons. The Parliament approved legislation in 1985 that mandates accessibility for the handicapped in public places and buildings, but it applies only to new construction.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

The 1993 Constitution recognizes the right of all persons "to form and maintain managerial, professional, and trade union associations without prejudice." However, as of the end of 1994, no labor unions were registered.

Strikes were illegal under the old system; the Constitution does not explicitly permit them, but so long as there are no labor unions, the question of their legality is moot.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The new Constitution states that both "workers and employers have the right to defend their own economic and social interests." It charges the Parliament with devising legislation to regulate the exercise of this right in ways that guarantee the functioning of essential public services. Workers are loath to complain or organize, meanwhile, because they fear dismissal in this traditionally tight job-market where no unemployment insurance is available. The law does not prohibit antiunion discrimination.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

No law expressly prohibits forced or compulsory labor, but such offenses do not occur.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law prohibits employment of youths less than 18 years of age, except that 16- and 17-year-olds may work under certain specified circumstances. Child-labor regulations are enforced by the Labor Inspection Office (within the Ministry of Social Welfare, Public Health, and Labor), which does not routinely inspect workplaces, but responds to specific complaints.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The legal standard workweek is capped at 40 hours, and overtime is limited to 66 hours per month and 426 hours per year.

The minimum wage, set by law and revised twice a year, is about $4.50 per hour (600 Spanish pesetas) In principle, the Labor Inspection Office enforces it, but self-enforcement is customary. The minimum wage does not afford a decent standard of living for a worker and family.

Workers may be dismissed without notice, and the unemployed receive social security and health benefits for only 25 days. Foreign workers who contribute to the social security system are ineligible for retirement benefits if they do not remain in Andorra after retirement, but they are eligible for lump-sum reimbursement when they leave the country. There is no special court or board of appeals for labor complaints.

The Government sets occupational health and safety standards, but enforcement is very loose, as there are no routine inspections. There is no legislation giving workers the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to their continued employment.

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