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

    Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliamentary form of government. The role of the Grand Duke is mainly ceremonial and administrative. The Prime Minister is the leader of the dominant party in the popularly elected Parliament. The Council of State, whose members are appointed by the Grand Duke, serves as an advisory body to the Parliament. The judiciary is an independent branch. The Government effectively controls the security apparatus, which consists of police and gendarmerie. Luxembourg has a prosperous market economy with active industrial and services sectors. Its standard of living and level of social benefits are high. The Constitution and laws provide for the full range of human rights, and the Government respects these rights in practice.


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 law prohibits torture and other cruel punishment, and the authorities respect these provisions. Officials immediately investigated the sole allegation of police mistreatment and took disciplinary action. Also in 1994, two police officers were convicted of mistreating a resident foreigner in 1993; they were given suspended sentences and required to pay fines.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The law stipulates that judicial warrants are required for arrests except in cases of hot pursuit. Within 24 hours of arrest the police must lodge charges and bring the suspect before a judge. Suspects are not held incommunicado. They are given immediate access to an attorney, at government expense for indigents. The presiding judge may order release on bail. Exile is never imposed.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The independent judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court, whose members are appointed by the Grand Duke. Defendants are presumed innocent. They have the right to public trial, and are free to cross-examine witnesses and to present evidence. Either the defendant or the prosecutor can appeal a ruling; appeal results in a completely new judicial procedure, with the possibility that a sentence may be increased or decreased. There are no political prisoners.

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

The law provides for the right to privacy, and the authorities respect this. Police must obtain a judicial warrant in order to enter a private residence, to monitor private correspondence, or to conduct electronic surveillance.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The law provides for freedom of speech and press, and the Government does not restrict this freedom. Print media are privately owned. The privately owned national radio and television company has exclusive television broadcasting rights within the country. A new permit system allows establishment of other private radio stations. Radio and television broadcasts from neighboring countries are freely available. Academic freedom is fully respected.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for freedom of peaceful assembly and association. The authorities routinely and unconditionally grant permits for public demonstrations.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government does not hamper exercise of this freedom. There is no state religion, but the State pays salaries of Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clergy, and several local governments maintain sectarian religious facilities.

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

Citizens have full freedom of domestic and foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation. The Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees, and does not expel those having a valid claim to refugee status. It has taken no action against the more than 200 people from the former Yugoslavia remaining in Luxembourg after the Government denied them temporary asylum.

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

Luxembourg is a multiparty democracy. Suffrage is universal for citizens aged 18 and above, and balloting is secret. National parliamentary elections are held every 5 years. Women are active in political life. There are 7 women in Parliament (including its President), 2 in the Cabinet, and 3 in the European Parliament, and the mayors of several major municipalities, including the capital, are women.

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

The Government does not restrict the activities of domestic or international human rights groups.

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

The law prohibits racial, sexual, or social discrimination, and the Government enforces these provisions. Blatant societal discrimination occurs only rarely.


Women enjoy the same property rights as men. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, property is equally divided upon dissolution of a marriage. The law mandates equal pay for equal work. To date there have been no work-related discrimination suits. While the number of working women remains relatively low, the percentage of women who work has more than doubled over the past two decades, and increasing numbers of women hold prominent positions in medicine, law, journalism, and other professions, as well as in public service. Latest official data indicate that from 1970 to 1991, the percentage of women aged 30 working outside the home rose from 28 percent to 58 percent, while for women aged 40, the rate increased from 21 percent to almost 53 percent. Violence against women is not widespread, and neither society nor the Government is tolerant of it. The Government prosecutes persons accused of violence against spouses or other women, but cases are rare. Several women's rights groups aid battered women.


Child abuse does not appear to be widespread, and laws against child abuse are enforced. The Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse, a government organization created in 1984, estimates there may be some 200 cases a year. The Association works closely with other social service organizations and maintains a hot-line for victims or witnesses.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Although foreigners constitute over 30 percent of the total population, antiforeigner incidents are infrequent and rarely involve violence. Resident "skinheads" and neo-Nazis are few. In August the police rapidly dispersed and deported over 150 neo-Nazis from surrounding countries who attempted to stage racist demonstrations in Luxembourg.

People with Disabilities

National legislation does not directly mandate accessibility for the disabled, but the Government pays subsidies to builders to construct "disabled-friendly" structures. Despite government incentives, only a modest proportion of buildings and public transportation have been modified to accommodate people with disabilities. The Government helps disabled persons obtain employment and professional education. By law, businesses and enterprises with at least 25 employees must fill a quota for hiring disabled workers, and must pay them prevailing wages. The quota is fixed according to the total number of employees, and employers who do not fulfill them are subject to sizable monthly fines. There have been no known complaints of noncompliance.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

All workers have the right to associate freely and choose their representatives. About 65 percent of the labor force is unionized. Membership is not mandatory. Unions operate free of governmental interference. The two largest labor federations are linked to, but organized independently of, major political parties. The law prohibits discrimination against strikes and strike leaders, and a labor tribunal deals with complaints on these matters. All workers have the right to strike except for government workers providing essential services such as police, armed forces, and hospital personnel. However, strikes are rare; none occurred in 1994. Unions maintain unrestricted contact with international bodies.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for and protects collective bargaining, which is conducted in periodic negotiations between centralized organizations of unions and employers. Enterprises having 15 or more employees must have worker representatives to conduct collective bargaining. Enterprises with over 150 employees must form joint works councils composed of equal numbers of management and employee representatives. In enterprises with more than 1,000 employees, one-third of the membership of the supervisory boards of directors must be employees' representatives. The law provides for adjudication of employment-related complaints, and it authorizes labor tribunals to deal with them. A tribunal can impose a fine on an employer found guilty of antiunion discrimination, but it cannot require the employer to reinstate a worker fired for union activities. There are no export processing zones.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and neither occurs.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law prohibits employment of children under age 15, and requires children to remain in school until age 16. Apprentices who are 15 or 16 years old must attend school in addition to their job training. Adolescent workers under age 18 receive additional legal protection, including limits on overtime and the number of hours that can be worked continuously. The Ministries of Labor and of Education effectively monitor the enforcement of national child-labor and education laws.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

The law provides for minimum wage rates at levels that vary according to the worker's age and number of dependents. The minimum for a single worker over age 17 is approximately $7.49 per hour (238.81 Luxembourg francs). Supporting a family is difficult on the minimum wage, but most employees earn more than the minimum. National legislation mandates a workweek of 40 hours. Premium pay is required for overtime or unusual hours. Employment on Sunday is prohibited except in continuous-process industries (steel, glass, and chemicals) and for certain maintenance and security personnel. Employment on Sunday must be voluntary and compensated at double the normal wage; and the employee must be given compensatory time off on another day, equal to the number of hours worked on Sunday. The law requires rest breaks for shift workers, and limits all workers to a maximum of 10 hours per day including overtime. All workers receive at least 5 weeks of paid vacation yearly, in addition to paid holidays. The law mandates a safe working environment. An effective inspection system provides severe penalties for infractions. The Labor Inspectorate of the Ministry of Labor, and the Accident Insurance Agency of the Social Security Ministry, effectively carry out their inspections. No laws or regulations specifically guarantee workers the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment, but every worker has the right to ask the Labor Inspectorate to make a determination, and the Inspectorate usually does so expeditiously.

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