COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD CONCLUDES REVIEW OF ANDORRA'S REPORT ON COMPLIANCE WITH CONVENTION



CRC
29th session
29 January 2002
Afternoon




Expert, in Preliminary Remarks, Recommends Government
Action on Legislation and Monitoring Mechanisms
to Ensure Child Rights


The Committee on the Rights of the Child this afternoon concluded its consideration of an initial report from Andorra on how that country was giving effect to the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In preliminary remarks, a Committee Expert said that she would not go into details about the areas of concern, as the Committee would issue its concluding observations in a few days. They would include recommendations concerning legislation, coordination, monitoring mechanisms, and coordination of data which would be useful for policy planning concerning child rights.

Other issues which would be listed in the final conclusions were child participation, violence, corporal punishment, all forms of abuse against children, children of seasonal migrant workers and other vulnerable children, said the Expert. In Andorra, like all other countries, much must be done in terms of making child rights a reality and making the Convention a working standard to achieve this end. She hoped that the questions of the Committee Experts had been useful to draw the attention of the authorities to certain areas, including the need to establish appropriate structures and mechanisms related to children.

Formal, written concluding observations and recommendations on the report of Andorra will be issued by the Committee at the end of its three-week session on 1 February.

As one of the 191 States parties to the Convention, Andorra is obligated to submit periodic reports to the Committee on the various activities, including legislative, judicial and administrative measures, intended to implement the provisions of the treaty. A 6-member Andorran delegation was on hand during two meetings to introduce the report and to answer questions raised by members of the Committee.

When the Committee reconvenes at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 January, it will meet in private to discuss its draft concluding observations on country reports already dealt with. It will meet in public at 3 p.m. to consider cooperation with other bodies.

Response of Andorra

At the beginning of the afternoon meeting, the members of the Andorran delegation provided answers to questions raised by Committee Experts this morning. They said that any person found in the Andorran territory could receive medical assistance, even if the person was illegally in the country. Children of illegal immigrants were also treated in the same manner as citizens with regard to education and other social benefits.

Andorra had not been able to establish a system to look after children whose parents were working, the delegation said. The percentage of female workers in Andorra occupied the highest place among European countries and for that reason, the Government was contemplating to put in place a system where children were cared for. It had also envisaged to expand kindergarten centres to assist working parents. Since the State was aware of the lack of day care services for children, the Secretariat of State for the Family was taking initiatives in that regard. There were also plans to open children centres by municipalities and private persons.

In Andorra the problem of school violence was evident although the scope was not widespread, the delegation said. A study had been carried out to identify children in danger and those perpetrating the violence in different forms, including bullying. Courses in conflict resolution were also given in schools.

The Andorran mental centre was responsible for handling mental health services, including the treatment of children exposed to anxiety and traumatism, the delegation said. However, there were no separate premises for the treatment of children and young people, although the resources had been made available.

The Government was planning to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases to children and adolescents in the country, the delegation said. There were at present facilities, at the parish level, where adolescents could be checked for any infectious diseases.

In Andorra, corporal punishment in schools and the home was prohibited, the delegation said, adding that during the last twenty years, only one case of ill-treatment of a child by parents was brought to justice.

Andorra had no refugees except migrant workers, the delegation said; and there was no need to ratify the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees. The country attracted tourists and not refugees; about ten million tourists every year visited Andorra and its main resources were drawn from such activities.

Asked about Andorra's use of the Roman law, the delegation said that the written Andorran laws in vigour were the ones the country depended on while the Roman-Catalan laws were only tributary. The Roman-Catalan laws were used in marriages, succession and inheritance. However, the Andorran written law prevailed over all Roman laws, which dated back to 1416.

There was not discrimination against girls in Andorra, both boys and girls were treated equally, the delegation said. Twenty-five years of residence in Andorra was required as a prerequisite to naturalization, the delegation said. Children born in Andorra of foreign parents had the same fate as adults in acquiring Andorran nationality.

Andorra's social security system was directly linked to a person's work, the delegation said. When a person left his work, the social security coverage could cease if it was not prolonged on mutual agreement.

Asked about the role of the Andorran Ombudsman, the delegation said that that institution was to prevent any illegal practice by State agents against individuals. Children also had access to the Ombudsman to request redress in cases of abuse in areas of health and education. The Ombudsman was accountable to Parliament and not to the Government, and its budget was allocated by the legislators.

The information the Government gathered in mid-1999 was that 50 per cent of children under the special care system came from single-parent families, the delegation said. There had been a lack of care and negligence concerning that category of children and many of them were children belonging to migrant workers.

The issues of abortion and euthanasia had been under discussion by the Andorran parliament since one year, the delegation said. The outcome of the discussion might indicate whether a bill would be adopted liberalizing the two subjects or not.

Answering a question about sex education, the delegation said that although religious education was being taught in schools, there had been an agreement to teach sex education as well. There were also centres where adolescents could go and consult about family planning. Teenage pregnancy was not a handicap in the pursuance of school before or after delivery.


Preliminary Remarks

The Committee will issue its formal, written concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report of Andorra at the end of its three-week session on 1 February.

In preliminary remarks, a Committee Expert said that she would not go into details about the areas of concern, as the Committee would issue its concluding observations in a few days. They would include recommendations concerning legislation, coordination, monitoring mechanisms, and coordination of data which would be useful for policy planning concerning child rights.

Other issues which would be listed in the final conclusions were child participation, violence, corporal punishment, all forms of abuse against children, children of seasonal migrant workers and other vulnerable children, said the Expert. In Andorra, like all other countries, much must be done in terms of making child rights a reality and making the Convention a working standard to achieve this end. She hoped that the questions of the Committee Experts were useful to draw the attention of the authorities to certain areas, including establishing appropriate structures and mechanisms related to children.




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