Committee on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights
9 November 2007
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has considered the initial to fourth periodic reports of San Marino on how that country is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Introducing the report, Dario Galassi, Permanent Representative of San Marino to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the contents of the Covenant, to which San Marino was a party since 1986, had always held a place in the heart of the citizens. Sanmarinese citizens took pride in the high levels of respect for fundamental rights, and believed there was no field of economic, social and cultural rights in which San Marino did not maintain high standards. At the same time, it was not easy to demonstrate this in a formal or schematic way, and this was why the delegation included a wide range of representatives of the public sector. San Marino was confident that the proceedings of the meeting would be very fruitful.
Among questions posed by Experts were such issues as whether San Marino intended to set up a National Human Rights Institution in accordance with the Paris Principles; whether San Marino supported the establishment of an Optional Protocol to the Covenant in order to bring it into line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the lack of ratification of ILO Conventions 102 and 192, what were the reasons for this non-ratification, and whether the Government had any intention of doing so in the near future; whether there was a problem with regards to trafficking and whether this was penalised and combated through programmes; and why higher education was on a paying basis and whether that payment was just to cover registration costs or did it cover more.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Galassi said the Experts were to be thanked. The quality of the questions had been impressive - as had been the quality of the answers. He hoped the proceedings had been smooth and satisfying for all.
Among the delegation from San Marino were representatives of the Court of Civil Appeals, the Department of Education and Culture, the Department of Territory, Environment and Agriculture, the Labour Office, the Ministry for Foreign and Political Affairs, the Health Authority, the Economic and Health Services Unit, the Ministry of Labour, Cooperation and Youth Policies, the Gender Equality Commission, and the Commission for the Management of Subsidised Housing.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the report of San Marino towards the end of the session on 23 November.
The next meeting of the Committee will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, 12 November, when it will consider the third periodic report of Belgium (E/C.12/BEL/3).
Report of San Marino
The initial to fourth periodic reports of San Marino (E/C.12/SMR/4) says that as of today, the only limitations on residents who are not San Marino citizens concern the fact that they do not have the right to vote in a general election and have no access to the highest political mandate as Head of State. The last 10 years have witnessed a remarkable and uninterrupted employment growth. With regard to the employment or occupation of residents, no distinctions are made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion or nationality. In San Marino, given the small size of the country, contacts and meetings between the Government, relevant public offices, trade unions and employers’ organizations are pretty frequent and not limited to the renewal of collective agreements. Collective bargaining has often been characterised by a good level of cooperation between the social partners.
Collective labour agreements protect the purchasing power of workers and their families by offsetting inflation, by means of real/contractual percentage increase and fiscal drag directly affecting wages. Every year, the fiscal drag allows, as agreed between the Government and the trade unions, to link taxation to inflation through a mechanism of periodic review of the progressive income tax rates, which results in greater tax allowances, e.g. tax allowances for expenses incurred for income generation. Each citizen has both the right and duty to work. Fair remuneration, annual holidays, weekly rest and the right to strike are secured by law.
Law No. 42 of 1955 establishes “a compulsory social security system providing for health services, temporary and life-long benefits, social assistance and family benefits.” All residents have free access to health assistance, mainly provided through the Social Security Institute, which operates a hospital and three health centres for basic health care, the pharmacies, a rest home and a disabled centre. Health services not available on the territory are guaranteed by foreign facilities, mainly Italian, often by virtue of an agreement with the San Marino Hospital. Also in this case, services are provided free of charge, as well as essential drugs. Health assistance is financed through general income taxation. Working mothers (both dependant and independent) receive a maternity benefit equal to 100 per cent of their remuneration for 150 days. In general, pensions are paid to all workers (both dependent and independent, men and women) at the attainment of their 65th year of age and with a minimum contribution period of 20 years.
DARIO GALASSI, Permanent Representative of San Marino to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the contents of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which San Marino was a party since 1986, had always held a place in the heart of the citizens. Sanmarinese citizens took pride in the high levels of respect for fundamental rights, and believed there was no field of economic, social and cultural rights in which San Marino did not maintain high standards. At the same time, it was not easy to demonstrate this in a formal or schematic way, and this was why the delegation included a wide range of representatives of the public sector. San Marino was confident that the proceedings of the meeting would be very fruitful.
Questions by Experts
Taking up articles one to five of the Covenant, Experts raised, among other things, questions about whether San Marino intended to set up a National Human Rights Institution in accordance with the Paris Principles; whether San Marino supported the establishment of an Optional Protocol to the Covenant in order to bring it into line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; a request for instances where the courts had pronounced in favour of an applicant who felt that their rights under the Covenant had been violated; a request for the exact figure of the proportion of the budget which went to the International Solidarity Fund; how strong was the influence of the problems of Italian society and whether they affected life in San Marino; if the standard of living was so high, why did so many citizens live abroad; whether racial discrimination had been criminalized or not; whether there were any problems with asylum seekers or refugees or with discrimination against foreign workers; how the concluding observations would be publicised; whether a provision against racism, racial hatred or any form of discrimination would be adopted; what was the proportion of women in higher institutions and at University; could all women who resided in the country benefit from the law to find work after a long period of time of unemployment; and issues related to the status and appointing of judges.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the delegation said with regards to a National Institution for Human Rights, for the time being such an institution did not exist, however, in the current legislative programme it had been decided that a Defender of Civil Rights, i.e. an Ombudsman would be set up. The Ombudsman would carry out the functions of such an institution. San Marino was discussing the creation of such a body, but would have to set up whole new mechanisms and adapt them to a State structure and system that had been in existence for several centuries. San Marino was currently updating many of its traditions. On the Optional Protocol, San Marino did not actually follow the negotiations in this area, as it had limited human resources available. The Government believed that it was a good idea, and was fair for an individual to directly address a Committee, but had not yet been able to bring that philosophy into practice. On the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, this had been approved, and the ratification process was under way.
On acknowledging people’s rights to self-determination, the delegation said San Marino recognised this concept. On the impact of Italian reality and problems on San Marino, it was indeed a small State, but there were significant differences with Italy. On why San Marino citizens lived abroad, during the ‘50s and ‘60s, many citizens emigrated, due to economic problems and the lack of employment opportunities. The links between citizens and those abroad remained very strong. Since 1969 there had been official recognition of San Marino citizens living abroad - they also received State credit, and they were given a voice in San Marino. A third of Sanmarinans lived abroad. With regards to the absence of any laws on the books to address the issue of racial discrimination, San Marino society had changed a lot in recent years. Until recently, it was a very homogenous society, with few foreign nationals other than Italians. There was thus no problem - but now society had changed. The Government recently asked the Ministry of Justice to draft a proposal for an amendment to the Criminal Code to introduce criminalisation of racial discrimination, for reasons of prevention. There was also an intention of teaching young people in schools about tolerance.
San Marino was not part of the Geneva Convention on Refugees - its policy had been to grant resident permits to people on a case-by-case basis, and it did not acknowledge the status of refugees or political asylum seekers. This was not because San Marino did not share the ideas of the Geneva Convention, but was due to the fact that it was a small State surrounded by a larger State. It had no border controls, and this created some difficulties in terms of setting up the mechanisms set forth in the Geneva Convention, and this was why there was a case-by-case approach. The concluding observations would be publicised through a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and through the press and media, and therefore the public would be informed. Sanmarinese citizens were very interested in international affairs, and liked to know what the country could do in international fora. With regards to legislation and resident permits, San Marino made a distinction between residents and “persons staying in the country”. The former was a person living in the country with all rights except to participate in an election. With regards to immigration, there were illegal immigrants, but the authorities remained seized of the problem and carried out checks, the delegation said.
With regards to discrimination, the Constitution of San Marino, the Declaration of Rights, established that there could be no discrimination based on gender, economic status, race, or religion. This could be completed by an article which introduced a change, transforming international norms into domestic norms, including the European Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments related to the protection of freedoms of rights that had been ratified and implemented in San Marino, the delegation said. In San Marino there were no homogenous laws on the books covering the various hypothetical situations of discrimination that could be arise, but this was not a reflection of any lack of interest in discrimination, but more the result of a more recent awareness of the problem, due to migratory flows that were beginning to impact the country, and which compelled it to address these issues. Laws did recognise the subject, and recognised that racial discrimination could take place, such as in education or the right to work. The Criminal Code had no provisions to define as crime the incitation to racial discrimination. However, any discriminatory behaviour was defined as an aggravating circumstance with regards to sentencing.
With regards to the granting of resident permits or short-stay permits, in 2000 a law was passed on citizenship, which could be obtained either through the mother or the father, and was granted at the age of maturity. To become a San Marino national, then other nationalities should be renounced. The prohibition of civil and political rights was a consequence of a criminal sentence which ascertained a committed crime, the delegation said. San Marinese could become judges in the Appeals Court and others. The procedure for acceding to these posts had been modified, as before the reform of the Judicial System in 2002-2003, the nomination of judges was made on a political basis. The reform chose a competition basis for nomination, based on written examinations. A San Marino citizen could also become a magistrate. On the issue of a potential single text on discrimination, the legal and political culture of San Marino should be examined first, as this would be a paradox. For the time being, there was a terminological difference with regards to legitimate and illegitimate children, as well as for adopted children, but these different situations had to be recognised, or there was an unnatural equality. The terminological difference on legitimate and illegitimate children was based solely on marriage law, the delegation said. There was total equality with regards to inheritance with regards to these children, and therefore there was no discrimination.
San Marino’s international solidarity activities, which included economic solidarity, took place not through a direct transfer of funds on a bilateral basis, but the channels used were international channels, namely the United Nations, its specialised agencies working in the field on specific projects, and through non-governmental agencies which financed local measures, or a solidarity activity which was carried out in the field. In 2006, the figure was 65,000 Euros - in 2007, the provisional budget allotted approximately 61,000 Euros, and before the end of the year it was believed this allocation would be finalised, the delegation said. This was 0.007 percentage of the national GDP. The main source of income for the country, as of today, was still tourism. On new legislation protecting the inclusion of women in the world of work, this new law received great attention from the political world, especially regarding categories of women who were returning to work, those who had been unemployed for more than 12 months, and those over 50. It guaranteed the possibility of having special work contracts, and to return to work with the help of orientation given by the Labour Office. The possibility of finding jobs was quite high, however. The past few years had seen an increase in women’s level of education, which helped in finding employment. Employment had increased by 2 per cent in the last three years, and unemployment decreased by 1 per cent in the same time, with the unemployment rate remaining marginal.
Questions by Experts
Taking up articles six to nine, Experts raised, among other things, questions on the lack of ratification of ILO Conventions 102 and 192, what were the reasons for this non-ratification, and whether the Government had any intention of doing so in the near future; what were the specific differences between permanent contracts, short-term contracts and consultancy contracts in terms of salary, paid leave, and others; issues related to old-age benefits and the social contribution paid to those who had not contributed, which was low; what happened in 2002 as the number of workers who participated in conflicts was very high, and what happened to these in terms of economic activity; a request for more details with regards to inadequacies, which were not clarified in the report due to its short nature; the absolute nature of the language used, which was overly dogmatic, such as where it insisted that there were no “vulnerable groups” in the country, as this could lead to the impression that San Marino overestimated its qualities; why there was no minimum salary system; and what was done when people’s personal income exceeded the cap the Government had put on this.
Then taking up articles 10 to 12, Experts raised, among other things, issues concerning the criminalisation of certain offences as a means of protecting a society from those offences and what was the situation with regards to the draft bill on criminalizing domestic violence and what statistics were available with regards to this problem; details related to the cultural provision of primary health care; whether any structural measures had been taken to combat infectious diseases; how was community participation in State activities implemented; what measures were being taken to combat obesity in the population; whether there was a problem with regards to trafficking and whether this was penalised and combated through programmes; issues related to the high number of psychiatric evaluations; a request for the figures with regards to suicide; whether there was a problem with elderly people who were abandoned by their families and whether there were centres for the aged; whether there were specific preventative measures to prevent cancer among the population in general but among women specifically; and what was the definition of a household when it was headed by a single parent, and whether this was considered a “family”.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the delegation of San Marino said with regards to the ILO conventions, a thorough reply was given in the report. With regards to the dialogue with the ILO, San Marino attached importance to the basic conventions of the body, and its lack of ratification of other conventions did not mean that a particular subject was a problem for the country, rather, the approach which it had always adopted was that the country ratified an instrument and scrupulously complied with it, rather than rushing headlong into ratification. Because of a lack of manpower, it was difficult for San Marino to live up to its commitments to attend meetings, and a large number of reports were required and meetings held in connection with ILO conventions. San Marino was very thorough in considering ratification of a convention. With regards to labour issues, the data given in the table for 2005 was correct, but not the data for 2002. The seeming peak in the number of conflicts was a result of the renewal of the collective bargaining agreements in the industry, which latter lasted three years.
Cross-border workers were a major force in the labour sector, the delegation said. A Commission had been established which investigated issues linked to cross-border workers. Differences between cross-border and national workers had tended to diminish. On the difference between fixed term and permanent contracts, the only difference was the date of the end of contract, but in terms of medical insurance and other requirements, they were the same for both contracts. There was no minimum wage in San Marino. Collective bargaining covered almost all sectors, and whenever a person was recruited they were given a labour contract under the collective bargaining agreement, which included reference to pay. There was thus no need for a minimum wage. Income in San Marino was higher than in Italy, and wage levels were higher. The average of pay in the private sector was higher than in the public sector.
On health care and medical insurance, a law of 1985 established that all persons resident on the territory had the right to medical assistance free of charge, but medical care was financed through a contribution from the State’s financial budget, the delegation said. There were no people in extreme poverty or in a destitute situation in San Marino. As far as retirement pensions were concerned, there was a pay-as-you-go system, with contributors making payments during their working life. For this type of pension, the minimum was 957.15 Euros per month. There were also social pensions - State-paid pensions paid to persons above a certain age who had no other income. The disabled were also entitled to a disability benefit. In 2005, there was a reform of the retirement system, as the former was no longer viable. This changed both the method for calculating pensions, and affected retirement age, which hithertofore was 60 - as of 2008 it will be increased by 6 months per year until retirement age was 65. This will ensure the financial viability of the pension system at least until 2025 or 2030.
Family allowance was a contractual allowance, deducted from salaries and then redistributed to those with dependants who were still of school age and were not working. Health, schooling and social services were entirely free, and other indirect contributions were made, such as free textbooks and free school transport. San Marino had a customs agreement with the European Union. Italian customs officers could bring goods into the country. With regards to domestic violence, San Marino adhered to the Council of Europe’s campaign to raise awareness of violence against women in 2006. Unfortunately, the data on violence against women has not been collected to date, and has only been collected since December 2006, the delegation said. A free crisis line was open for two hours a day on an experimental basis. It was believed that 0.43 per cent of women over the age of 16 were involved in situations of domestic violence - in a third of these cases, minors were implicated. A legal apparatus had been set up within criminal law to cover cases of violence.
With regards to trafficking, so far there had been no cases in San Marino’s territory, the delegation said. Trafficking and other offences defined as slavery were punishable by imprisonment of various lengths. There were provisions on the sexual exploitation of minors, including pornography involving minors. Another crime on the books was a law which made it possible to punish promotion, propaganda, travel, meetings or anything else which was geared to promoting the sexual exploitation of minors. The Criminal Code of 2002 indicated the extent to which an offender could be punished, both for crimes committed on the territory, by a national abroad, or by a foreign national against a citizen. A number of measures were undertaken to assist minors who were victims of such crimes.
The country was not autonomous with regards to its water supply, and met needs thanks to Italy. Various measures had been taken over the last few years in order to reduce consumption, with authorities encouraging citizens to conserve water, and other measures such as increasing the cost of water, thus increasing the cost of waste, the delegation said. The whole water cycle had been in the hands of a single company since 2006, which dealt with water treatment, distribution of water, and residual waters. This was a State-owned enterprise, under the Public Order Department. Legislation ensured the right to health, and this was the Government’s basic guiding principle. To date, there had been no assessment of results. Some key information related to looking at primary health care, which was seen as a fundamental right for all citizens. If care was not available in San Marino, then specialised care was provided in Italy. With regards to preventative care, in particular healthcare for children, San Marino was beginning to address the problem of obesity, which was becoming an epidemic – 30 per cent of school-age children had problems with weight. With regards to mental health care, there were some 4,000 psychological consultations in the figures. The suicide rate was quite low compared to other countries, and had been for some years.
The law recognised single-parent families or common-law marriages and couples living together, the delegation said. The reform of family law in San Marino recognised in particular the right of single persons to adopt.
Questions by Experts
Taking up articles 13 to 15, Experts asked, among other things, why higher education was on a paying basis and whether that payment was just to cover registration costs or did it cover more; whether it was possible to pursue a PhD; whether students could also study at Italian universities; how many universities existed; whether there were many foreign students coming to study; whether economic, social and cultural rights were part of human rights education; the extent to which non-governmental organizations and civil society participated in the State report and their opinions were consulted; whether libraries, cultural heritage, museums and such were free of charge; what percentage of the State’s budget was used to finance culture; and what was the official attitude towards the involvement of private companies in cultural activities.
Response by Delegation
Responding to these questions and others, the delegation said the right to education and training was guaranteed for children up to the age of 16 for the entire population, through a series of measures, as well as guaranteed access to anything that was necessary to make it possible to be educated, including textbooks and transport. Beyond 16, about 50 per cent of students studied in San Marino, and the other 50 per cent in other institutions of higher learning abroad. The State made a contribution to the purchase of textbooks and other expenses up to a certain amount, and provided for transportation. Continued State support depended on academic results. All were guaranteed training up until the age of 18. Expenses incurred by support to training and education were provided both for the young and for those who went to university. There was only one university in San Marino, with six departments, and it was still growing. Post-graduate courses were available. In order to pursue studies, students could go to Italy, and there were cooperative agreements with certain Italian universities, as well as ones in other countries.
The university very much wished to promote the values of human rights. The goal of the university was to provide future citizens with the values needed for a sounder, more tolerant society, and human rights were cross-cutting issues in this regard. Courses on human rights had been offered at the university, including training and refresher courses for the teachers. Schools were being used to raise awareness for economic, social and cultural rights, so that more and more people understood them in the wider context of human rights. There were a lot of cultural associations that were working alongside other cultural institutions, under the 1991 law which provided for development, comparison and circulation of information. Cultural associations provided a place and opportunity for people to meet, and were subsidised by the State, the delegation said. An optimum teacher-student ratio was supported, in particular for those requiring special education. The State had a commitment to educating everybody, and that included students with learning or physical disabilities, for whom funding was set aside.
Once the concluding observations were issued, then they would be translated into Italian, and made available. The only sector of civil society which was asked for its input into the report were the unions, the delegation said.
DARIO GALASSI, Permanent Representative of San Marino to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks, said the Experts were to be thanked. The quality of the questions had been impressive - as had been the quality of the answers. He hoped the proceedings had been smooth and satisfying for all.
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