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Title:  Andorra Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996




                                ANDORRA


The principality of Andorra became a parliamentary democracy in 1993 
when its Constitution was approved by popular referendum.  Two Co-
Princes representing secular and religious authorities have governed 
Andorra since 1278.  Under the Constitution, the two Co-Princes--the 
President of France and the Spanish Bishop of Seu d'Urgell--serve 
equally as Heads of State and are each represented in Andorra by a 
delegate.  Elections were held in December 1993 to choose members of the 
Consell General, the Parliament, which selects the Head of Government.  
The judiciary functions independently.

Andorra has no defense force.  The national police have sole 
responsibility for internal security.

The market-based economy is dependent on those of neighboring France and 
Spain.  With creation of the European Union internal market, however, 
Andorra lost its privileged duty-free status and is suffering an 
economic recession.  Tourism is still an important source of income, but 
it fell dramatically during the year.  Because of banking secrecy laws, 
the financial services sector is growing in importance. 

The Government fully respected the human rights of its citizens, and the 
law and the judiciary provide effective means of dealing with instances 
of abuse.

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 politically motivated disappearances.

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

The Constitution prohibits such practices, and there were no reports 
that officials employed them.

Prison conditions meet minimum international standards, and the 
Government permits visits by human rights monitors.

  d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile, and 
the Government observes this prohibition.

  e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the 
Government respects this provision in practice.  The highest judicial 
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.  
Members of the judiciary are appointed for 6-year terms.  The judiciary 
provides citizens with a fair and efficient judicial process.

There were no reports of political prisoners.

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

The Constitution provides citizens with safeguards against arbitrary 
interference with their "privacy, honor and reputation," and government 
authorities generally respect these prohibitions.  Private dwellings are 
considered inviolable.  No searches of private premises may be conducted 
without a judicially issued warrant.  Private communications also are 
protected by law.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

  a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and 
the Government respects these rights in practice.  An independent press, 
an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system 
combine to ensure freedom of speech and of the press, including academic 
freedom.

  b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government respects 
them in practice.  Since adoption of the 1993 Constitution, the 
Government has registered seven political parties.

  c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government 
respects this right in practice.  The Constitution acknowledges a 
special relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the State, 
"in accordance with Andorran tradition."  The Catholic Church receives 
no subsidies from the Government.

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

The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government respects 
them in practice.

The Government cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees 
and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.  It is 
government policy not to expel persons having valid claims to refugee 
status, and there were no reports of such expulsions.

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

The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their 
government peacefully, and citizens exercise this right in practice 
through periodic, free and fair elections held on the basis of universal 
suffrage.

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 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 restrictions to prevent their formation, no formal 
human rights organizations operate in Andorra.

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

The Constitution declares that all persons are equal before the law and 
prohibits discrimination on grounds of birth, race, sex, origin, 
religion, opinions, or any other personal or social condition, although 
the law grants many rights and privileges exclusively to citizens.  The 
Government effectively enforces these provisions.

  Women

No available data exists on the incidence and handling of domestic 
violence cases, but spousal abuse appears to be virtually nonexistent.  
There is no legal discrimination against women, either privately or 
professionally.

  Children

There is no evidence of any special commitment by the Government to 
children's rights and welfare, although there is no indication of any 
problems in this area.  Over the past 12 years there has been just one 
known case of child abuse. 

  People with Disabilities

There is no discrimination against disabled persons in employment, 
education, or in the provision of other state services.  The law 
mandates access to new buildings for people with disabilities, and the 
Government enforces these provisions in practice.

  National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Spanish nationals are the largest group of foreign residents, accounting 
for 47 percent of the population.  Other sizeable foreign groups are 
Portuguese, French, and British.  A small number of North African and 
African immigrants work mostly in agriculture and construction.

Although the Constitution states that legal residents enjoy the same 
rights and freedoms as Andorran citizens, immigrant workers do not 
believe that they have the same rights and security.  They lack many 
social benefits paid to residents and in many cases live in difficult 
and crowded conditions.  The cost of living is high, and workers 
employed in low-wage industries often cannot afford normal housing 
costs.  Many of them live in trailers or crowded apartments, with as 
many as 8 or 10 people sharing quarters designed for 4.  Many such 
workers are in Andorra on temporary work permits.  These permits are 
valid only as long as the job for which the permit was obtained exists.  
A worker hired on a temporary contract loses his work permit when the 
contract expires.  If unable to find new employment, the worker quickly 
becomes an undocumented alien with no visible means of support and may 
be deported.

Section 6  Worker Rights

  a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution recognizes the right of all persons "to form and 
maintain managerial, professional, and trade union associations without 
prejudice."  The Constitution provides that a registry of associations 
be established (through future legislation) and maintained.  There are 
no labor unions registered as yet although at least one may be in the 
formative stages.  Strikes were illegal under the old system, and the 
new Constitution does not state explicitly that strikes are permitted.

  b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Article 19 of the Constitution states that both "workers and employers 
have the right to defend their own economic and social interests."  
Parliament is charged with adopting legislation to regulate this right 
in order to guarantee the provision of essential services.  The threat 
of immediate dismissal (see section 6.e. below) is a powerful deterrent 
to complaints from workers, especially since there is very limited 
unemployment insurance.  This inhibits workers from organizing 
effectively to press their cases.  Antiunion discrimination is not 
prohibited under current law.

There are no export processing zones.  

  c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced labor is not specifically prohibited by law, but it does not 
occur.

  d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Children under the age of 18 are normally prohibited from working 
although in exceptional circumstances children ages 16 and 17 may be 
allowed to work.  Child labor regulations are enforced by the Labor 
Inspection Office in the Ministry of Social Welfare, Public Health, and 
Labor.  That office does not routinely inspect work places but responds 
to complaints.

  e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The workweek is limited to 40 hours, although longer hours may be 
required.  The legal maximums for overtime hours are 66 hours per month 
and 426 hours per year.  There is an official minimum wage, set by 
government regulations.  Other, higher wages are established by 
contract.  The minimum wage is approximately $4.50 per hour (Ptas 600).  
In principle it is enforced by the Labor Inspection Office, but self-
enforcement is the norm.  Living costs are high and the current minimum 
wage is inadequate for a worker and family.

Worker complaints center on the lack of job security.  Workers may be 
dismissed without prior notice and receive social security and health 
benefits for only 25 days; thereafter, there is no unemployment 
insurance.  Foreign workers who contribute to the social security system 
are ineligible to receive retirement benefits if they do not remain in 
Andorra after retirement; however, they may apply for a lump-sum 
reimbursement of social security contributions when they leave the 
country.  Retirement benefits are controlled by a board composed of 
Andorran nationals although they represent only a small portion of the 
work force.  There is no special court or board to hear labor 
complaints.

The Government sets occupational health and safety standards, but 
enforcement is 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.

(###)

[end of document]

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