CRC 41th session: Committee examines report of Andorra



UNITED NATIONS Press release

COMMITTEE EXAMINES REPORTS OF ANDORRA ON
OPTIONAL PROTOCOLS TO CONVENTION ON RIGHTS
OF CHILD

Committee on the 
Rights of the Child 
16 January 2006
(Chamber A)

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today reviewed the initial
reports of Andorra on how that country is implementing the provisions
of the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the
sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

In opening remarks to the Committee, Montserrat Gil, Minister of
Health, Social Welfare and the Family of Andorra, said since the two
reports had been handed in to the Committee in 2004, Andorra had
changed its Government, and adopted a new Criminal Code, with family
matters raised to a Ministerial level, giving them increased
importance. The Department of Social Welfare and the Family had
programmes to protect the family, and was divided into three areas,
covering social welfare for young children, with many programmes
aiming to protect children at risk. The new Criminal Code, which
entered into force in 2005, had changed on various issues on
children, including the age of criminal responsibility, and a more
specific description of offences relating to the Optional Protocols. 

Committee Expert Hatem Kotrane, who served as Rapporteur for the
reports of Andorra, said the Committee had very little to say to the
delegation with regards to the Optional Protocol on the involvement
of children in armed conflict. There were no legislative measures
concerning the direct involvement of children, given that the
Principality had no armed forces, and the only armed forces allowed
to bear weapons were the police and customs forces. On the Optional
Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child
pornography, he said that in the State report, it was indicated that
acts covered in the Optional Protocol had been included in the
current Criminal Code, and that these were fully included in Andorran
legislation. Was Andorra considering examining its legislation point
by point to ensure that the Protocol was indeed fully incorporated
and applicable in all areas, as this did appear to be necessary. In
terms of prosecuting persons who had close links with Andorra, the
State should consider broadening its jurisdiction in this regard. 

On the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed
conflict, other Committee Experts raised questions related to, among
other things, whether Andorran nationals could be recruited into the
Spanish or French military forces. On the Optional Protocol on the
sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Experts
asked if children knew how to protect themselves with regards to the
provisions and prohibitions of the Protocol; what the State did with
regards to prevention measures and programmes for victims; how did
children lodge complaints and were there any campaigns being held in
this respect; what amount of the budget went on the application of
the Optional Protocol; what mechanisms existed in its regard; and why
there was no mechanism for the criminal responsibility of corporate
bodies when there was for the agents of corporate bodies with regards
to the sale of children. 

The Committee will release its formal, written concluding
observations and recommendations on the initial reports of Andorra to
the Optional Protocols towards the end of its three-week session,
which will conclude on 27 January. 

The delegation of Andorra consisted of representatives of the
Ministry of Health, Social Welfare and the Family, the Permanent
Mission of Andorra to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of the Interior. 

As one of the 192 States parties to the Convention, Andorra is
obliged to present periodic reports to the Committee on its efforts
to comply with the provisions of the treaty. The delegation was on
hand throughout the day to present the report and to answer questions
raised by Committee Experts. 

When the Committee reconvenes on Tuesday, 17 January at 10 a.m., it
will hold an informal meeting with States Parties to the Convention. 



*Reports of Andorra *

The initial report of Andorra on the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children
in armed conflict (CRC/C/OPAC/AND/1), says the Optional Protocol
echoes Andorra's concerns and encourages States Parties to take all
feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who
have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in
hostilities; those States Parties that do permit recruitment into
their armed forces under the age of 18 should maintain certain
minimum safeguards. There are no legislative measures that provide
for the direct involvement of children in hostilities, given that the
Principality of Andorra has no armed forces. No text provides for
voluntary or compulsory recruitment, given the non-existence of armed
forces in Andorra. No armed groups operate in Andorran territory, nor
does any such group use Andorran territory as a base or refuge, and
this eventuality is proscribed or punished under national law.

The initial report of Andorra on the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the sale of children, child prostitution and child
pornography (CRC/C/OPSA/AND/1) says the authorities currently have no
record of any case involving the sale of children, child prostitution
or child pornography in Andorra. However, the Ministry of Health and
Welfare, through the Secretariat of State for the Family and the
Secretariat for Welfare, currently administers various programmes and
services for children at risk and their families, and is ready to
deal with the case of any child victim of such crimes. The General
Council's Commission for Justice and the Interior is in the process
of reforming the Criminal Code. The Ministry of Health and Welfare
has requested the Commission to take account of the crimes referred
to in the Optional Protocol (especially those mentioned in article 3
thereof) to ensure that they are specifically incorporated into the
new Criminal Code. The Ministry of Health and Welfare, through the
Secretariat of State for the Family, ensures that the rights of the
child are properly put into effect and disseminated on an ongoing
basis, thus complying with the recommendations of the Committee on
the Rights of the Child. Recent statutes take account of the
principle of the best interests of the child, which is specified in
the /llei qualificada /on marriage, the /llei qualificada/ on
adoption and other forms of protection of minors at risk, and the
Public Prosecutor's Office Act, which prescribes the intervention of
the Public Prosecutor's Office in all civil proceedings involving
minors with a view to ensuring that their best interests are served.



*Presentation of Reports*

MONTSERRAT GIL, Minister of Health, Social Welfare and the Family of
Andorra, said the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been
ratified and entered into force in 1996. The Optional Protocols had
been signed in 2000 during the Millennium Summit in New York, and had
been in force since 2002. Since the two reports had been handed in to
the Committee in 2004, Andorra had changed its Government, and
adopted a new Criminal Code, with family matters raised to a
Ministerial level, giving them increased importance. The Department
of Social Welfare and the Family included programs to protect the
family, and was divided into three areas, covering social welfare for
young children, with many programs aiming to protect children at
risk. The new Criminal Code, which entered into force in 2005, had
changed on various issues on children, including the age of criminal
responsibility, and a more specific description of offences relating
to the Optional Protocols. 

*Discussion on the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children
in Armed Conflict*

HATEM KOTRANE, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the
report of Andorra, said the Committee had very little to say to the
delegation with regards to the Optional Protocol on the involvement
of children in armed conflict. There were no legislative measures
concerning the direct involvement of children, given that the
Principality had no armed forces, and the only armed forces allowed
to bear weapons were the police and customs forces. The information
in the report was most welcome, in particular that the Government had
signed international agreements contributing to the combat against
this phenomenon. The budgetary assistance to non-governmental
organizations working in the field of children involved in armed
conflicts was also noted with approval. The contributions made to the
United Nations Programme on Children Involved in Armed Conflict were
appreciated. However, there were some questions on this issue:
Andorra was not fully concerned in the Protocol, but there was
concern with information in the report and the absence of legal and
administrative measures for the prohibition and sanctioning of the
enlisting of children in armed conflict, as States parties should
prevent and sanction cases of this practice when there were links
with their countries. Mr. Kotrane inquired whether there was any
intent in Andorra to remedy this. 

Other Experts raised a series of questions pertaining to whether
Andorran nationals could be recruited into the Spanish or French
military forces; whether there had ever been a victim of armed
conflict on national soil, either Andorran or foreign, who was in
need of rehabilitation, and whether Andorra was ready to offer this
rehabilitation; what lesson had been drawn in Andorra from the
projects to help boys and girls who had been involved in armed
conflicts; and whether the Andorran judiciary had jurisdiction over
Andorran nationals who were abroad. 

Responding, Ms. Gil said there was a lack of administrative and legal
orders regarding the prohibition of such practices, and the
Government would be told of the Committee's recommendation so that it
could amend its legal system. On other questions, the delegation said
that France and Spain could not recruit Andorran citizens into their
armed forces. To date, there had been no cases of an Andorran victim
to an armed conflict, but should such a person require repatriation,
Andorra would not be prepared for this. The instruments for the
protection of minors would be applied in this case. The only
experience of Andorra in this field dated back to the Second World
War, when there were refugees, but there had been no case since. In
cases where there had been some form of recruitment out of Andorra,
there was a limited form of jurisdiction under international
instruments, both European and international. 



*Discussion on the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child
Prostitution and Child Pornography*

HATEM KOTRANE, the Committee Expert serving as Rapporteur for the
report of Andorra, said the Committee noted with appreciation the
adoption by the State party of measures aimed at reinforcing the
rights of the child as covered by the Optional Protocol. Could the
courts apply the Protocol, Mr. Kotrane asked, requesting examples of
where the Convention was implemented by the courts. In the State
report, it was indicated that acts covered in the Optional Protocol
had been included in the current Criminal Code, and that these were
fully included in Andorran legislation. Was Andorra considering
examining its legislation point by point to ensure that the Protocol
was indeed fully incorporated and applicable in all areas, as this
did appear to be necessary, he said. In terms of prosecuting persons
who had close links with Andorra, the State should consider
broadening its jurisdiction in this regard. 

Other Experts raised questions on, among other things, if children
knew how to protect themselves with regards to the provisions and
prohibitions of the Optional Protocol; what the State did with
regards to prevention measures and programmes for victims; how did
children lodge complaints and were there any campaigns being held in
this respect; what amount of the budget went for the application of
the Optional Protocol; what mechanisms existed in its regard; why
there was no mechanism for the criminal responsibility of corporate
bodies when there was for the agents of corporate bodies with regards
to the sale of children; and whether the State was sure there were no
victims in Andorra. 

Responding, the delegation said with regards to questions on acts
which were not in the current Criminal Code on the sale of children,
all acts were covered in full. On the criminal responsibility of
corporate bodies, the Criminal Code established the responsibility of
physical persons, but corporate bodies could be held responsible for
acts committed by physical persons within the sphere of the corporate
body. The Criminal Code established that the company could have its
activities suspended either provisionally or temporarily, or it could
be put under an administrator. This decision would be published. On
jurisdiction over offences of sale, prostitution or sexual offences
committed against minors, article 8 of the Criminal Code drew a
distinction, and there were various suppositions. 

Various materials were distributed on the rights of the child, and
each child of school age was provided with a book thereon. Teaching
sessions were also held on the rights. Information was contained in
this year's book on how to work on the rights of the child, and
information to parents was also included. An agreement had been
reached with the Social Welfare services of neighbouring countries to
share information and train jointly, the delegation said, so as to
have more experience. The Police Department had a unit for minors,
and also intervened in cases of domestic violence. The Technical
Commission for Care of the Minor ensured that the rights of the minor
were protected, and the conventions implemented. 

On whether pornographic material was covered in the Code, this was
the case, although the possession of such material for personal
purposes was allowed, and possession of such material for the
purposes for disseminating or selling it was punished, the delegation
said. Few problems of such a kind had been encountered, but it would
be up to the courts to determine if the intent was to sell or
disseminate, the delegation said. For the time being, with the
dissemination of information to professionals and the awareness
campaign that had been and was being carried out, those working with
minors could give user-friendly information to the minor as to
whether a situation involved risk or not. As to the percentage of the
budget awarded to programmes related to children it was 0.26 per
cent. 

There were no cases that had been brought before the courts in
connection with the Protocol, and with regards to "hidden" cases,
once the child welfare professionals agreed that there was a risk,
maybe there would be more reports of cases, and it was the
Government's aim to bring these to light. Action would be taken in a
number of fields related to the prosecution of criminal offences, in
particular the protection of victims and the need to make use of
simple language with regards to children, the need to avoid
unnecessary delays and repetitions in the proceedings involving
minors, and the separation of the aggressor from the witnesses or
victims, including physical separation via screens. 

In further questions, the Rapporteur said the Criminal Code did not
exactly cover the definitions in the Optional Protocol. The most
serious offences were covered in the Criminal Code, but some points
of the Protocol, including on forced labour, were not apparently
included. The definition of pornography was also problematic, as the
Criminal Code indicated that only sale or dissemination could be
punished, whereas the Protocol stipulated that the possession of
child pornography should be punished. What was the actual situation
regarding victims, he asked, and had any professionals reported any
violations of the Convention? Another Expert asked a further question
on child forced labour, in connection with slavery. 

Responding, the delegation said that the Criminal Code did cover
labour exploitation, including specifically the trafficking of
persons for labour exploitation. When this latter occurred, there was
an aggravating circumstance if the victims were under the age of 18
or incapable. Labour exploitation was therefore covered. 


* *** *

This press release is not an official record and is provided for
public information only.





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