COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS OF CHILD CONSIDERS INITIAL REPORT OF ANDORRA



CRC
29th session
29 January 2002
Morning






Experts Queried Delegation on Law of Immigration,
Children of Seasonal Workers, ILO Non-Membership


The Committee on the Rights of the Child this morning started its consideration of an initial report from Andorra by querying a Government delegation on issues pertaining to the law on immigration; the situation of children of seasonal workers; and Andorra's non-membership to the International Labour Organization (ILO), among other things.

Introducing her country's initial report, Silvia Gabarre Iglesias, Secretary of State for the Family at the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Andorra, said her Government was reconsidering the declarations it made concerning articles 7 and 8 of the Convention with regard to nationality. She said that according to the Andorra legislation, acquisition or retention of a nationality other than Andorra nationality should result in the loss of the latter in accordance with the conditions and limits established by law. The Government was expected to withdraw its declarations in the very near future, she added.

Mrs. Gabarre Iglesias said that since Andorra ratified the Convention in 1996, the Government had implemented a number of programmes to promote and protect the rights of the child. Until May 2001, the Government had no single, well-defined structure to embrace all areas affecting the family, particularly children, women and the family mediation. In 2001, the State Secretariat for the Family had been created in the Ministry of Health and Welfare, whose objective was to promote programmes where planning, execution and evaluation considered the situation and needs of women, men and children in all areas, she said.

The Committee Experts queried the delegation on the law on immigration; the situation of children of seasonal workers, if they had access to social benefits; the budget for children's activities; the involvement of non-governmental organizations in the preparation of the report; how the State collected taxes, being a duty-free country; and why Andorra was not a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), among other things.

The Andorra delegation was also composed of Juame Gaytan Sansa, Director for Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation for Development in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Francesc Bonet Casas, Permanent Representative of Andorra to the United Nations Office at Geneva; Rosa da Silva Cerqueira, Head of the Child Unit, Ministry of Health and Welfare; Joan Forner Rovira, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Xavier Trota, from the Permanent Mission of Andorra in Geneva.

Andorra is among 191 States parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and as such it has the obligation to periodically send reports to the Committee on its efforts to given effect to the provisions of the treaty.

The Committee will continue its consideration of the initial report of Andorra when it reconvenes at 3 p.m. and expected to provide preliminary remarks before it offers its final, written concluding observations and recommendations at the end of its three-week session on 1 February.


Initial Report of Andorra

The report is contained in document in CRC/C/61/Add.3. Under its general information, the report says that Andorra is a small State between France and Spain, with a population of 65,306 inhabitants. The high immigration rate has been one of the salient characteristics of the population of Andorra, and represents as key factor in demographic growth and economic development.

The report says that the Government has indicated a desire to establish a youth department in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, in order to promoted associations for young people and establish environments offering contact between them. While it is the case that the integration of young people into Andorra society has taken place without difficulty, there is now a trend towards lifestyles with a lack of structure which places some adolescents and young people in vulnerable situations, including failure at school, which requires action to promote their reintegration.

It notes that Andorrans acquire legal majority at 18 years of age; majority gives full civil capacity to act and full political rights; however, from the age of 16 years onwards, minors may be considered as adults under criminal law, since from that age they are held responsible for offences and criminal violations and can thus be incarcerated. Education is compulsory and free from the ages of 6 to 16; minors under the age of 14 are prohibited from exercising any employment; minors may marry from the age of 16 and may, from the age of 14, request a court dispensation to marry; from the age of 14, minors had the capacity to make a will; the minimum age of sexual consent is 16; the age of criminal responsibility is set at 16; and the consumption of alcoholic drinks in public establishments by minors under 16 is prohibited.


Presentation of Andorra's Report

FRANCESC BONET CASAS, Permanent Representative of Andorra to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said his country had ratified a number of international instruments. The State had participated in regional and international fora designed to respect the human dignity. It had signed the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and their Destruction and the Rome Convention relative to the International Criminal Court.

In addition, Mr. Bonet Casas said his country had provided support to the Special Rapporteur of the UN Secretary-General on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The Government of Andorra had also ratified the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on the involvement of children in armed conflict, which would enter into force in the course of the current year.

SILVIA GABARRE IGLESIAS, Secretary of State for the Family at the Ministry of Health and Welfare of Andorra, said her Government was reconsidering the declarations it entered on articles 7 and 8 of the Convention with regard to nationality. According to the Andorra legislation, acquisition or retention of a nationality other than Andorra nationality should result in the loss of the latter in accordance with the conditions and limits established by law. The Government was expected to withdraw its declarations in the very near future.

Mrs. Gabarre Iglesias said the task of detailed data collection for children under the age of 18, which the Convention obligated to do so, had been difficult because of the different systems employed by each State agency. Since the collection of statistic had proved to be difficult, the Ministry o Health and Welfare was actually elaborating a guideline to all ministries in dealing with children. According to the guidelines, they were expected to collect the necessary information and periodically submit to the ministry responsible in coordinating the data.

Since Andorra ratified the Convention in 1996, the Government had implemented a number of programmes to promote and protect the rights of the child, Mrs. Gabarre Iglesias went on to say. Until May 2001, the Government had no single, well-defined structure to embrace all areas affecting the family, particularly children, women and the family mediation. In 2001, the State Secretariat for the Family had been created in the Ministry of Health and Welfare, whose objective was to promote programmes where planning, execution and evaluation considered the situation and needs of women, men and children in all areas.

Mrs. Gabarre Iglesias further said that a newly structured social care system for children had entered into force last year. The social care for children was a cross-disciplinary team to caring for children and adolescents at risk. It reported and advised on matters related to children at risk, making evaluation and planned for improvement and treatment.

Moreover, the Government had created a "youth unit" in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Mrs. Gabarre Iglesias said. The recent setting up of that unit had enabled its objectives to be defined and an increased budget and human team was projected for 2002 to carry out its planned projects. The purpose of the unit was to encourage youth participation in common projects and collaboration between all sectors, encouraging actions aimed at the integration of young people in society, culture and work.


Discussion

Following the presentation of the Andorra report, the Committee Experts queried the members of the delegation on a number of issues. Questions were asked on the role of the Ombudsman and its responsibilities in child rights issues; the law on immigration; the situation of child of seasonal workers, if they had access to social benefits; the budget for children's activities; the involvement of non-governmental organizations in the preparation of the report; how the State collected taxes, being a duty-free country; and why Andorra was not a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), among other things.

In response to the questions raised by the Committee Experts, the members of the Andorra delegation said the newly established State Secretariat had a role of coordination of children's activities in collaboration with the different "parishes", to avoid any duplication of tasks.

Andorra would soon celebrate 600 years of parliamentary life, the delegation said, adding that in 1963 the current Constitution was approved in order to establish separation of State powers.

Taxes were collected from the services rendered through the various agencies in the country, the delegation said. The system of tax collection had been developed in all spheres.

Under the Andorra civil law, children had all the rights, the delegation said, adding that they enjoyed the right to express their opinion and to inheritance. Children were also encouraged to participate in activities concerning them.

The relevant Andorra legislation prohibited the practice of xenophobia and racism, the delegation said. It was also the policy of the State that such acts were not manifested in the society. Children were instructed in positive manner how to behave towards others.

Seasonal workers were allowed to stay in Andorra only for six months and they were not allowed to bring their families with them, the delegation said. Since the family reunion was not allowed, the presence of work's families and children in the country was illegal.

Since Andorra had the desire to keep its identity, it had restrictions on immigration and it had limited the number of persons settling under its territory, the delegation said. The fact that it had a very limited human resources, its participation in many international fora was restricted. The report submitted to the Committee was the first so far Andorra prepared for an international body.

The Committee Experts continued to raise further questions on, among other things. the participation of children in the process of family mediation; on the situation of bullying in schools and in the society involving children, which might provoke depression in some cases; treatment of child-victims of abuse; the educational campaign against corporal punishment; the status of adoption; the scope of HIV/AIDS pandemic and tuberculosis; the situation of children living under domestic violence; and lack of day care for children.




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