Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:56 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2005 - Monaco

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 - Monaco , 8 March 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4418219d11.html [accessed 17 September 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.

Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 8, 2006

Monaco, with a population of approximately 32 thousand, is a constitutional monarchy in which the sovereign prince plays a leading role in governing the country. The prince appoints the four-member government, headed by a minister of state chosen by the Prince from a list of candidates proposed by France. Legislative power is shared between the prince and the popularly elected 24-member National Council (parliament). The 2003 parliamentary elections were considered 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 provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. The following human rights problems were reported:

  • restrictions on citizens' right to change their government
  • limits on freedom of speech
  • legal discrimination against women

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.

b. Disappearance

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 officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison conditions generally met international standards, and the government permitted visits by human rights monitors; however, there were no such visits during the year.

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

In addition to the French national police force, the prince's police force (Carabiniers du Prince) performed security functions. The Prince's chef de cabinet is responsible for administering the police forces. Corruption and impunity were not problems. The police forces are generally considered effective.

Arrest and Detention

Arrest warrants, issued by a duly authorized official, are required, except when a suspect is arrested while committing an offense. The police must bring detainees before a judge within 24 hours to be informed of the charges against them and of their rights under the law. Most detainees are released without bail, but the investigating magistrate may order detention on grounds that the suspect either might flee or interfere with the investigation of the case. The magistrate may extend the initial two-month detention for additional two-month periods indefinitely. Detainees are allowed prompt access to a lawyer of their choice, and, if indigent, one provided by the government. The magistrate may permit family members to see detainees.

There were no reports of political detainees.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected this provision in practice. Under the law the prince delegates his judicial powers to the judiciary.

The Supreme Court is appointed by the monarch based on recommendations from the National Council.

Trial Procedures

Trials are public, but there are no jury trials. As under French law, a three-judge tribunal considers the evidence collected by the investigating magistrate and hears the arguments made by the prosecuting and defense attorneys. The defendant has the right to be present and the right to counsel, at public expense if necessary. Defendants have the right to question witnesses against them and to present their own witnesses. Defendants and their attorneys have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases. The defendant enjoys a presumption of innocence and the right of appeal. After a prisoner receives a definitive sentence, they are transferred to a French prison to serve out their prison term.

Political Prisoners

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. However, the law prohibits public denunciations of the ruling family, a provision that the media respected in practice.

The independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction.

There were no government restrictions on the Internet or academic freedom.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for the freedom 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. Roman Catholicism is the state religion.

No missionaries operated in the principality and proselytizing is strongly discouraged; however, there is no law against proselytizing by religious organizations that are formally registered by the Ministry of State. Organizations regarded as religious "sects" routinely have been denied such registration; however, there were no reports of religious organizations being denied registration during the year.

Societal Abuses and Discrimination

There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts. Monaco is 90 percent Roman Catholic and has a very small 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.

Nationals enjoyed the rights of emigration and repatriation; however, they can be deprived of their nationality for specified acts, including naturalization in a foreign country. Only the prince can grant or restore nationality, but he is obliged by the law to consult the crown council on each case before deciding.

The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not employ it.

Protection of Refugees

The law provides 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 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. In light of its bilateral arrangements with France, the government does not grant political asylum or refugee status unless the request also meets French criteria for such cases. The number of such cases was very small.

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.

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

Authority to change the government and to initiate laws rests with the prince. The constitution cannot be suspended, but it can be revised by common agreement between the prince and the elected national council. The prince plays an active role in government. He names the minister of state (in effect, the prime minister) from a list of names proposed by the French government. He also names the three counselors of government (of whom the one responsible for the interior is usually a French national). Together the four constitute the government. Each is responsible to the prince.

Only the prince may initiate legislation, but the 24-member national council may propose legislation to the government. All legislation and the adoption of the budget require the council's assent. Elections for the national council, which are held every five years, are based on universal adult suffrage and secret balloting.

The law provides for three consultative bodies: the seven-member crown council, composed exclusively of Monegasque nationals, must be consulted by the prince on certain questions of national importance; the 12-member council of state, which is not restricted to Monegasque citizens, advises the prince on proposed legislation and regulations; and the 30-member economic council, which includes representatives of employers and trade unions.

Elections and Political Participation

The 2003 parliamentary elections were considered free and fair.

There were 5 women in the 24-member national council, 1 woman in the 7-member crown council, and 4 women on the 30-member economic council. A woman was the mayor of Monaco.

There were no members of minorities in the government.

Government Corruption and Transparency

There were no reports of government corruption during the year.

The law provides for public access to government information and provides access in practice for citizens and noncitizens, including the foreign media.

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

While the government imposed no restrictions on the establishment or operation of local groups devoted to monitoring human rights, no such groups were formed. International human rights groups did not seek to investigate human rights conditions in the country.

5. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status, and the government generally effectively enforced it; however, some legal discrimination against women remained.

Women

Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was rare. The law prohibits violence against women, and the government generally effectively enforced it. Any wife who is a victim of spousal abuse may bring criminal charges against her husband.

Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense, and the government effectively prosecuted those accused of such crimes.

Prostitution is illegal, and it was uncommon.

Sexual harassment was illegal, and the government effectively enforced the law.There were no reports of sexual harassment during the year.

Under the law, women enjoy the same rights as men; however, women who acquire Monegasque citizenship by naturalization cannot transmit it to their children, whereas naturalized male citizens can.

Women received equal pay for equal work. Women were represented fairly well in the professions; however, they were represented less well in business.

Children

The government was committed fully to the protection of children's rights and welfare. The government provided compulsory, free, and universal education for children up to the age of 16.

The government provided free health care for children, and boys and girls had equal access.

There were isolated reports of abuse of children.

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 effectively enforced these provisions. The government mandated that public buildings provide access for persons with disabilities, and this goal largely had been accomplished by year's end.

6. Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

By law all workers (except government workers) are free to form and join unions, and workers exercised this right in practice; however, fewer than 10 percent of workers were unionized, and relatively few workers, unionized or nonunionized, resided in the country. Unions were independent of both the government and political parties.

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 provides for the right of workers to bargain collectively, but it is rarely used. A very small percentage of workers are under collective bargaining agreement, as industrial activity was very limited. The law provides for the right to strike in conformity with relevant legislation; however, government workers may not strike. There were no strikes during the year. There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children, and there were no reports that such practices occurred.

d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The government effectively enforced the laws and policies to protect children from exploitation in the workplace. The minimum age for employment is 16 years; those employing children under that age can be punished under criminal law. Special restrictions apply to the hiring, work times, and other conditions of workers 16 to 18 years old.

The counselor of government for the interior is responsible for enforcing the child labor laws and regulations, and they were effectively enforced.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The legal minimum wage for full-time work is the French minimum wage, which is approximately $9.60 (8 euros) per hour, plus a 5 percent adjustment, and this provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Most workers received more than the minimum.

The legal workweek is 39 hours. The government allows companies to reduce the workweek to 35 hours if they so choose.

Health and safety standards are set by law and government decree. These standards were effectively enforced by health and safety committees in the workplace and by the government labor inspector. Workers have the right to remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and the authorities effectively enforced this right.

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