Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women considers report of Liechtenstein

Committee on Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women

20 January 2011

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has considered the fourth periodic report of Liechtenstein on how that country implements the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Committee also announced the election of its new bureau.

Introducing the report, Roland Marxer, the Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that thanks to various new legal foundations adopted recently, the equality of women and men at the legal level in Liechtenstein had been almost completely achieved. However, some action was still needed with regards to de facto equality. For this reason, the State continued to promote measures aimed at better reconciling family obligations and employment, as well as enhancing women’s participation in political and economic decision making. Because of the strong linkages between these areas and traditional gender roles, a change of awareness among the population was being actively promoted through Liechtenstein’s policy on women in order to eliminate these gender stereotypes. Effecting a change in awareness and perception was a process which took a relatively long period of time, and to which the Government was lending its active support.

Questions and issues raised by Experts during the interactive discussion included the integration of migrant workers and foreigners in Liechtenstein, the participation of women in public life, the work, powers and resources of the Equal Opportunity Office and the applicability of the Convention in Liechtenstein. The delegation was also asked about residency permits for women in cases of dissolution of marriage, the status of female refugees and asylum seekers who were victims of gender-based violence, measures taken to combat gender stereotypes, and the status of single parent households. The role of the media in combating stereotypes, awareness raising campaigns on women’s rights and dissemination of the Convention were also topics of discussion.

In concluding remarks, Mr. Marxer thanked the Committee for its constructive dialogue and helpful recommendations. The delegation was very engaged in the process, and Mr. Marxer said he knew there were still many open questions and they would provide further details and answers to these questions in the coming days.

Also in concluding observations, Silvia Pimentel, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their detailed responses and a frank and open dialogue. The Committee encouraged the State party to take further measures to address the concerns of the Committee, including the sometimes precarious situation of foreign spouses upon the dissolution of marriage and the low level of participation of women in the economic and political life of the country. Ms. Pimentel said she hoped the State party would take measures to correct these imbalances.

During the meeting, the Committee announced the election of Nicole Ameline, Victoria Popescu and Zohra Rasekh as Committee Vice-Chairpersons and Violet Tsisiga Awori as Committee Rapporteur.

The delegation of Liechtenstein included representatives of the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Immigration and Passport Office, the Criminal Investigation Office of the National Police, the Commission for the Equality between Women and Men, the Office of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be on Friday, 21 January at 10 a.m., when the Committee will begin its consideration of the combined second to fourth periodic report of South Africa (CEDAW/C/ZAF/2-4).

Report of Liechtenstein

The fourth periodic report of Liechtenstein (CEDAW/C/LIE/4) notes that since the enshrinement of legal equality of women and men in the Liechtenstein Constitution in 1992 and Liechtenstein’s ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1996, Liechtenstein has undertaken energetic efforts to realize the principle of gender equality. During the reporting period, further steps at the legal level have been taken as part of Liechtenstein’s gender equality policy.

Thanks to these new legislative foundations, which serve as pillars of gender equality policy to supplement the principle of gender equality set out in the Constitution and its implementation to date, de jure equality of women and men has been nearly achieved. Certain room for action still exists with respect to de facto equality, however. With its women’s policy, the Government is advancing a change in attitudes in the population with respect to the traditional role allocation of women and men. In these efforts, it is supported by the activities of the women’s organizations working in Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein’s women’s policy is based on the four pillars of the Beijing Platform for Action, which has been implemented by Liechtenstein since 1998: women’s rights are human rights; protection from violence is a basic right of women; the full participation of women in all public and private decision-making processes in all areas of life must be ensured; and the rigid allocation of roles between women and men must be dissolved.

Measures for the protection of children from sexual abuse have been intensified in recent years. In 1999, an interdisciplinary Expert Group against Sexual Abuse of Children and Young People, responsible for advising experts and institutions, was established. It also serves as a contact office for affected persons and those close to them. In cases of suspicion, it can be called upon to initiate the necessary measures. In 12 cases in 2008, the Expert Group either gave advice or was informed of (suspected) cases of sexual abuse against children and young people. The sensitization of teachers of primary school children was an important topic in 2008 and continued in 2009. At the beginning of 2009, the Expert Group made a presentation to emergency doctors, including information on important procedures for confronting sexual abuse of children. As part of the three year prevention campaign of the National Police “Stop Child Pornography on the Internet”, the Expert Group, in collaboration with the National Policy, organized information events for parents and teachers. A special event was held for Turkish parents and translated into Turkish. Since 2001, the Expert Group regularly organizes continuing education sessions for a broad circle of experts. The session in June 2009 discussed the topic of child pornography, since the Expert Group has increasingly had to deal with cases of child pornography and threats on the Internet and in chat rooms.

Presentation of Report

ROLAND MARXER, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva, presenting the fourth periodic report of Lichtenstein, told the Committee that the fight against the discrimination of women on the international level was intrinsically linked to the empowerment of women in conflict and post-conflict situations. When the Security Council adopted the landmark resolution 1325 (2000), it acknowledged the negative impact of armed conflict on women and highlighted their decisive role in conflict prevention and in consolidating peace. As an active member of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, which had proven to be an indispensible tool in shaping the Women, Peace and Security agenda, Liechtenstein actively contributed to efforts to bring the agenda from rhetoric into action. They had thus, among other things, co-financed the “Monthly Action Points” on Women, Peace and Security and supported the production of a handbook on women, peace and security, which was published on the tenth anniversary of resolution 1325 in October 2010.

Liechtenstein had also supported an initiative on the access to fuel and firewood. Access to fuel and firewood as well as their use in humanitarian settings posed a variety of serious risks. Women and girls were often raped and assaulted during the collection of firewood. Cooking over indoor fires released toxic smoke, causing respiratory infections that killed more people every year than malaria, especially babies and young children. Furthermore, the collection of firewood exacerbated environmental degradation. Liechtenstein had become a core member of the Humanitarian Working Group of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, launched in September 2010. Finally, Liechtenstein supported international efforts to end impunity for the most serious crimes under the international law, including gender-based crimes. This commitment included continued political support for the International Criminal Court as well as financial contribution to the International Criminal Court Trust Fund for Victims which adopted a gender-based perspective across all programming and specifically targeted victims of all forms of sexual and gender violence.

Turning to national matters, Mr. Marxer said that thanks to various new legal foundations adopted in the last years, the equality of women and men at the legal level in Liechtenstein had been almost completely achieved. However, some action was still needed with regards to de facto equality. For this reason, the State continued to promote measures aimed at better reconciling family obligations and employment, as well as enhancing women’s participation in political and economic decision making. Because of the strong linkages between these areas and traditional gender roles, a change of awareness among the population in order to eliminate these gender stereotypes was being actively promoted through Liechtenstein’s policy on women. Effecting a change in awareness and perception was a process which took a relatively long period of time, and to which the Government was lending its active support.

Mr. Marxer said he was very pleased to report that the first status report on the human rights situation in Liechtenstein had been presented to the public. With this report a long-standing wish for a better data situation in the human rights field had been fulfilled. Succinct and easy to read, the report contained data, information and explanations with regard to more than 80 human rights topics. It contained various information on the representation of women in the economy and politics, on education and integration of women in the job market, on the situation of single parent families, and on domestic violence and trafficking, just to name a few. These and other key data would strongly assist the Government in analyzing the human rights situation and the women’s rights situation and in drafting programmes that promoted and protected these rights. The report would henceforth be updated every year.

Mr. Marxer also updated the Committee on new laws and laws currently undergoing revision. Parliament had considered the revision of Liechtenstein’s sexual criminal law in a first reading in November 2010. As part of the revision the topic of ex officio prosecution in cases of domestic violence was considered. The second reading was scheduled for spring 2011. The amendments of various laws to implement the principle of equal treatment of men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services had been considered by parliament in a first reading in December 2010. These amendments would extend the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sex in the realm of work to many other relevant areas.

In conclusion, Mr. Marxer said that according to the model of neighbouring countries Switzerland, Germany and Austria, a new institution, the registered partnership of same sex couples, was being introduced in Liechtenstein. The second reading of the Partnership Act was expected in spring 2011. Parental custody in Liechtenstein would also be reviewed as part of the revision of the General Civil Code in 2011. Civil society organizations representing both men and women had submitted proposals for new rules, including proposals for joint custody as a general rule as well as custody rights according to the “Norwegian model”.

Questions by Experts

To open the first round of questions, an Expert asked how international treaties such as the CEDAW Convention could have constitutional value in Liechtenstein and where they ranked in terms of domestic and international law in the country. The Expert also asked about the possibilities of lifting the reservation to Article 1 of the Convention, which was linked to the country’s dynastic history. Did parliament have the ability to take the initiative in formulating laws or was it only on the initiative of the executive branch? Would consultation on the implementation of the Convention be strengthened? Was outreach to women via foreign policy also a priority for the State?

The next speaker reiterated the call to lift the reservations to Article 1 of the Convention. Another Committee member asked whether the resources and power for the Office for Gender Equality were reduced when the agency was merged into the Equal Opportunity Office. Was the work now done more efficiently and how did the one office deal with the range of equality issues that came before it, including those pertaining to migrant workers, people with disabilities and women.

The State party’s report said that the State did no intend to create a national human rights institution based on the Paris Principles and an Expert asked why this was the case and what challenges there were to doing so. How many gender complaints had the Office of Equal Opportunities received and what were the outcomes of these complaints?

Response by Delegation

Responding to questions, the delegation said that human rights were a top priority for the Government, including women’s rights. The Prime Minister himself was occupied with the matter. Parliament had the right to take legal initiatives to introduce new laws and it could also block any law that went against an international treaty, and there was always the possibility for referendums so in the end the people decided and the prince could also weigh in.

In terms of the applicability of the CEDAW Convention in Liechtenstein, the constitutional court had the competence to hear cases and complaints under international treaties to which Liechtenstein was party. For all conventions that Liechtenstein had ratified, it had accepted this individual complaints procedure so that international treaty law in effect had the same applicability as the constitution. There had not been any such complaints under the CEDAW Convention, but the delegation said this might be because the European Convention on Human Rights had been ratified before the CEDAW Convention and it was better known so perhaps people did not file complaints under the Convention, but rather used other international instruments. Also, Liechtenstein was a very small country with a small number of inhabitants so it was to be expected that there would be fewer cases. Also, de jure inequality had been outlawed, so people would have to bring cases under de facto discrimination.

The Parliament had a strong role in Liechtenstein, but it was not a professional parliament which meant that its 25 members had other jobs so resources were always an issue. Many of the members of parliament were also members of the parliament of the Council of Europe, so they also brought up many issues regarding women.

The princely house was an autonomous source of law as established in the constitution. In terms of succession to the throne by women, this had not been an issue because there had not been a first born daughter who would be eligible to take the throne. The delegation understood the argument in principle that this was discriminatory against women.

There was a consultation procedure and mechanism for all draft laws so there was an input from various offices on whether the law met all the international obligations the State had undertaken. There was also an opportunity for civil society and the public to weigh in. There was also the right of petition so people could get signatures and submit a text to the parliament and only one member of Parliament needed to introduce the text to parliament and it would be discussed and a comment or answer given on the issues raised in the petition.

The Office of Equal Opportunity was established in 1996 and no reductions in staff or resources had been implemented. The office was staffed by one full time person. It was on a solid foundation and it also worked with other agencies so it was solely responsible for dealing with equal opportunity for people with disabilities or women or migrant workers. Liechtenstein also financed projects that dealt with multiple forms of discrimination. The current statistics indicated that 130 inquiries had been made to date, but those could not be equated with complaints. They were general inquiries such as requests for addresses, lawyers, information or help writing a job announcement that was gender neutral, etc.

Regarding the consultation process in Liechtenstein, the delegation reiterated that it was possible for the public and non-governmental organizations to be involved in the development of draft laws. There were meetings with non-governmental organizations in 2009 and 2010, which was a recommendation from the Committee in its last set of concluding observations.

The delegation said that for Liechtenstein an additional national human rights institution was not a priority at this time. There was an ombudsman for children that met the Paris Principles, a non-governmental organization for people with disabilities that would probably also meet the requirements of the Paris Principles, and there was a new body to support the victims of human rights violations. These three new bodies, coupled with the Equal Opportunity Office as well as other bodies met the needs of a country with a small population. These bodies also were responsible for specific rights and this specificity allowed them to be more effective, rather than creating a new body that was more general.

Questions by Experts

In a second round of questions and comments, Experts said that Liechtenstein was characterized by people of many different foreign nationals living there. Could these women invoke the Convention while living in Liechtenstein? What was the integration process for these people?

Noting the delegation’s response about the specificity of its mechanisms, an Expert asked why there was no specific body for women’s rights.

Another speaker asked whether the Committee’s concluding observations were consulted when laws were being drafted.

Response by Delegation

Responding to those questions, the delegation said the Committee’s recommendations were taken into consideration when new laws were being drafted; whether the Government ultimately incorporated the recommendations directly into law depended on many things. Foreigners represented 33 per cent of the people living in Liechtenstein, but there were many foreigners who crossed the border between Switzerland and Austria to work in Liechtenstein every day. Nearly 70 per cent of jobs were occupied by foreign nationals. There was a specialist in charge of integration and this counsellor worked with migrants, and this was as important for men as it was for women. Liechtenstein was dependent on a foreign work force so it was important to reach out to this community and there were specific projects for female migrants.

In terms of the national mechanisms, the Commission for Equal Opportunity had eight members, male and female, who met once a month. There was also the Women’s Network which was composed of 18 women’s organizations which, together with the Office of Equal Opportunity, worked on projects year round and met once a month to implement different projects.

Questions by Experts

In a further series of questions and comments, Experts asked about any special measures undertaken to increase the participation of women in public and political life, including in educational life as professors at the university.

The delegation was asked about the effectiveness of measures to combat and change gender stereotypes. What changes had there been in the patriarchal society and how were these changes measured and how did they manifest themselves? How was information on the Convention provided if there was no definition of discrimination as required by the Convention?

As far as single parents were concerned, how many single family households were there and how many were headed by women and how many by men? In many cases, these households were often quite poor and headed by women who were the sole breadwinners. What was being done to encourage responsible fatherhood? In terms of measures to strengthen the family, what types of families were they promoting?

The head of the delegation said that changing stereotypes would take time, but an Expert said that in a country with a high level of education and a high standard of living this should not take so long. What measures were being taken to combat trafficking? More attention should be paid to migrants and high-risk groups because they were at higher risk for human trafficking.

The delegation was asked about residency permits for foreign spouses, which could be revoked or not renewed following dissolution of a marriage if the marriage did not last five years. The Expert raised concerns about women being forced to stay in violent relationships because they were worried about losing their residency permits. Although exceptions were made in cases of domestic violence, the burden of proof was on the abused spouse and this required time and money for legal fees. Where would the woman live while this process was going on and how did she support herself while trying to dissolve her marriage? What happened to the children of these unions if their mother was deported? Regarding refugee and asylum requests, were there provisions to assess persecution based on gender when considering applications?

Response by the Delegation

The delegation responded that it was true that there were no quotas in Liechtenstein or very clear objectives for individual areas in order to advance equality between men and women. The objectives included awareness raising and positive measures such as roundtable discussions and courses. Regarding questions surrounding the university, the delegation said it would seek clarification from colleagues about this topic to address the issue of female professors, female students in certain courses of study, and the composition of the governing board. The number of women seeking education over the years had increased and women were becoming more active in the political sphere.

In terms of a definition of discrimination, the Law on Equal Opportunity defined very clearly what discrimination was and related on one hand to the area of work, but also to numerous others areas.

The delegation would have to obtain information on single family households.

There were a series of measures for families including maternity, birth, breastfeeding, family, child, and single parent allowances. Maternity leave of 20 weeks was offered as well as unpaid parental leave for both mothers and fathers. There were rental subsidies as well.

There were a number of measures to combat stereotypes and there was evidence that in respect to education and the workplace things had changed.

The roundtable on human trafficking was established in 2006 as a permanent facility and was composed of members of the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Foreign Office, and the Office for Social Services, Passport and Immigration, the National Police and other offices. It met to establish policy and enact measures to combat trafficking and help victims. Victims who cooperated with authorities to prosecute perpetrators were given residency permits and financial help. The roundtable concluded that the group that was at the highest risk were dancers who worked in the six nightclubs in Liechtenstein. The Magdalena Project invited women to participate in information sessions to learn about their legal status and their rights and obligations and also to meet police to cut down on human trafficking. Thus far Liechtenstein had not had any cases of human trafficking. The State received approximately 100 asylum requests per year so it was not an overwhelming amount. There was also training for police officers. The State also took preventive measures so that Liechtenstein did not become a destination country, including participation in regional initiatives started by Austria.

Regarding domestic violence, women victims could live in the Centre for Women, which was open to all women and paid for by taxpayers and there was legal aid available, also paid for by taxpayers. The delegation did not know of any concrete cases in which family reunion was not possible.

In terms of single parent households, women made up 84 per cent of single family households, while men made up 16 per cent of single family homes.

Questions by Experts

In additional questions and comments, Experts wondered whether there were any procedures in place to give special consideration to female refugee and asylum seekers who were victims of gender-based violence.

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said that in the fall of 2009 there were Somali and Eritrean refugees who came to Liechtenstein to ask for asylum. The only way to deal with the situation was to increase the number of border guards. They proceeded on the assumption that these asylum seekers had already been in other European countries and had been admitted there. Liechtenstein was not a member of the Dublin Agreement and thus it did not have access to European databases, so this sometimes led to the problem of refugees trying to obtain asylum from a second country in Europe. Many of them left on their own accord or asked how to get back to another country and the State paid for their transport.

Questions by Experts

In a further round of questions, Committee members commented that having women in governmental institutions was very important because it set an example, among other things. Women in Liechtenstein were educated and competent so it was confusing why a country like Liechtenstein did not have even one female mayor. Could special measures be taken so that positions that were appointive and not elective were filled with women to achieve gender parity?

Response by the Delegation

Responding to these questions and issues, the delegation said that in terms of equality in political life Liechtenstein had been a very poor country until the middle of the twentieth century so there was not a high standard of education for both boys and girls. Thus women aged 45 and older had not enjoyed the same quality of education as their younger cohorts and this was also the reason they were not that active in political life. For younger women, having children and taking care of a family and having a job were enough and they really could not go beyond that to participating in political life. There had been an increase in the number of women in positions at the municipal level over the years and they assumed this trend would continue. With regard to mayors, the situation was not as positive but they expected the situation to improve in coming years. This was being helped by the State via mentorship programs, training and courses for women to help them run for public office, and engagement with the media to show women in a variety of roles, including those of public officials.

In terms of why there were not more female ambassadors, the delegation said that the problem was that when many women diplomats were asked to go abroad as ambassadors, they declined for personal reasons. Also, many women in the Foreign Service worked part-time and when someone needed to be sent abroad they needed to work full-time so for technical reasons these people also could not be appointed as ambassadors. Women were always approached when there were positions open as ambassadors, but it was difficult to staff these positions with women when they turned the posts down due to personal or family reasons.

Questions by Experts

In a further round of questions, Committee members encouraged Liechtenstein to also train men who were in politics in order to change the political environment because many women said this was not an arena they wanted to enter because of the environment they found there.

Was there any possibility for the Government to be more proactive and nominate more women to government commissions and councils and consultative bodies? How many years did it take to achieve parity? The Government could be a role model for the private sector and take the lead by achieving gender parity.

Response by the Delegation

Responding to these follow-up questions and issues, the delegation said it appreciated the Committee’s recommendations on increasing women’s involvement in political life, but they knew the realities and political circumstances that existed, so while this dialogue was very helpful their hands were a bit tied in terms of taking further measures. Also, the measures the Government had taken had not always had the desired effect. For example, the database of potential female candidates was deigned to help political parties identify women who would be interested in running for office, but many women registered in the pool never indicated any party affiliation so that made it very difficult for political parties to reach out to them to have them run for office so this programme was discontinued. There was also a homepage for women where they could identify whether they were interested in running for office. The State was always on the lookout for creative solutions to these problems.

Questions by Experts

In a further round of questions, Committee members asked how measures to combat gender stereotypes were monitored to evaluate their effectiveness. The delegation had mentioned that many of the subjects offered at the university were subjects more likely to be pursued by men, so women often went to neighbouring Austria or Switzerland to study. Were there any plans to broaden the range of subjects offered at the university to encourage women to study there rather than going abroad? There were also an education gap between immigrant children and native born children at all levels of education. Had the recommendations of the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council to close this gap been enacted and if so had the situation improved?

Turning to employment, inequality between men and women in the work place and the treatment of migrant workers continued to be major issues for Liechtenstein, brought up by other treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review. Were people aware of their rights in terms of employment contracts and were employers aware of their obligations under labour laws? Temporary and part-time work was a problem throughout Europe. The number of women working part-time in Liechtenstein had increased, largely in the service sector. What was the State doing to reverse that trend?

The State had a compulsory health insurance scheme, but what did this mean? Was the insurance affected by the aging population, undocumented immigration, the economic crisis and budget deficits? If so, how had it affected women? Was abortion decriminalized? Could minority women access the free reproductive counselling services in their own language? The State party report did not include information on health statistics for women such as life expectancy, mental health issues, reproductive issues and other topics. Did the State party collect disaggregated data on the health of women? Women were eligible for gynaecological check-ups every 2.5 years and general check-ups every 5 years. Early detection was key in catching various types of cancers, so would the Government consider making these check-ups available every year? The Government did not offer free contraception and yet abortion was criminalized which put women in a difficult situation. What specific programmes, policies and services were there in term of prevention of unwanted pregnancies? Was sex education included in the school curricula? Did women have access to confidential reproductive health services?

Response by the Delegation

Responding to these questions and issues, the delegation said that it hoped that their new report published on 17 January provided the statistics the Committee asked for. Unfortunately, they did not have the numbers readily available, so they could not provide an immediate response. They also could not immediately answer the questions on migrant workers. The delegation could say that female migrant workers were at the bottom of the pay scale. The law offered protection from dismissal and no discrimination was allowed.

The Office of Equal Opportunity organized a number of campaigns between 2006 and 2009 and collaborated with non-governmental organizations and sent out pamphlets and flyers to businesses regarding migrant workers.

With regard to women and part-time work, the delegation said women took advantage of this because it allowed them to reconcile their family and work lives. In terms of paternity leave, men took it and also took part-time work to help meet family obligations.

The healthcare system was accessible to everyone. Every person, nationals and immigrants alike, was required to have health insurance and they had access to doctors and the one hospital in Liechtenstein as well as in neighbouring countries. Several events had been organized with doctors to raise awareness of the special needs of female migrants.

The Working Group on Pregnancy Conflicts had done a lot of work on abortion, including spending a lot of time clarifying the legal side of this.

Statistics on health, mortality rates, birth rates and other data would have to be provided later because the delegation did not have those figures at hand.

Regarding regular check-ups, women could consult a doctor at any time for a mammogram or check-up and the insurance would cover that. Sex education was offered in school by several different agencies, including the Office of Sexual Questions. Pregnancy Lichtenstein, another group, also engaged in discussions in schools as well as with youth groups and it offered confidential counselling services.

On the question of support for migrant children, there was specific support for migrant children to learn German and use the national language to further their lives. Standard German was spoken by teachers starting in kindergarten because most children spoke a dialect of German which was what most Liechtensteiners spoke.

There had been a strain on the health system due to the economic crisis and health subsidies had to be reduced, although the system was still robust.

Questions by Experts

Raising some follow-up questions, an Expert reiterated the question about free contraceptives for people who could not afford them?

Another Committee member asked about the measures taken to address the needs of older women and women with disabilities?

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said there were funds that low-income people could access to help pay for their healthcare needs, and people were well aware of these funds.

The issues related to older women were fairly broad, according to a study commissioned by the State. One of the issues they tackled was the reintegration of women into the workplace, especially for older women who were not as well educated or who might have been out of the workforce for many years. This had implications for the pension system as well. The nursing and care allowance helped women who took care of relatives and helped with their own pension situation. The State had also held seminars on ageing and women and women and health.

Turning to women with disabilities, a study concluded that both men and women were disadvantaged, but there were no real differences between men and women in these disadvantages. Highly individualized measures were needed to help people and the State tried to find tailored solutions.

Questions by Experts

In terms of family law, Experts wanted to know what was meant by joint custody. Did that mean that each parent got equal time with the child or did it just mean joint physical custody? Were there implications in the family law reform for child support payments? Meaning, would child support payments be reduced if parents had joint custody? Would there be any changes in inheritance law once the same sex marriage law was passed? Was there a time requirement for couples to live together before their union could be considered a de facto union? How were property rights dealt with under the various marriage regimes (civil, de facto, same sex)? Were there risks for people in de facto unions who were not married and thus not governed by community property? What was considered property; did it include tangible as well as intangible property?

Response by the Delegation

The Government had not taken a position on the custody law, although several non-governmental organizations had asked for the law to be reviewed. Currently sole custody was the default rule and joint custody had to be requested. The suggestion was to reform the law so that joint custody was the default option.

Once the law on registered partnerships was passed, these couples would also be governed by the inheritance laws as they were currently written. In terms of de facto marriages, if it could be proved that a partnership or marriage-like union had existed for five years, family reunion was possible so a Liechtenstein national who was in a union with a foreign national could request to be reunited with a partner.

Young women were given information on some of the potential disadvantages they could experience by being in a de facto union. Lectures on the topic were provided as well.

Questions by Experts

As a follow-up question an Expert reiterated their question about the definition and scope of marital property. Another Expert resubmitted their question on measures undertaken to ensure equality for older women with disabilities. Was there any monitoring of those measures and information on their effectiveness?

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said it could furnish additional information on marital property law at a later time, and some of the measures regarding older women and women with disabilities had only been taken recently so it was too soon to measure their effects.

Concluding Remarks

In concluding remarks, ROLAND MARXER, Permanent Representative of Liechtenstein to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for its constructive dialogue and helpful recommendations. The delegation was very engaged in the process, and Mr. Marxer said he knew there were still many open questions and they would provide further details and answers to these questions in the coming days.

Also in concluding observations, SILVIA PIMENTEL, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their detailed responses and a frank and open dialogue. The Committee encouraged the State party to take further measures to address the concerns of the Committee, including the sometimes precarious situation of foreign spouses upon the dissolution of marriage and the low level of participation of women in the economic and political life of the country. Ms. Pimentel said she hoped the State party would take measures to correct these imbalances.


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