Experts of the Committee on the Rights of the Child Commend Andorra for Having No Child Prisoners, Ask Questions about Access to Housing and the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined third to fifth periodic report of Andorra, commending the State on having no child prisoners, while asking questions on access to housing and the minimum age of criminal liability.
One Committee Expert welcomed that Andorra had not had child prisoners since 2017. There were serious offences in all societies, the Expert noted. How did the State manage not to resort to deprivation of liberty in such cases?
Suzanne Aho, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, noted that housing was insufficient and conditions were questionable. What were the policies in this area? Were there special programmes for targeted populations?
Luis Ernesto Pedernera Reyna, Vice Chair of the Committee and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, said the minimum age of criminal liability currently stood at 12, but this could be raised to 14. He called on the State party to raise the age of detention to 16, as suggested by the Committee in its general comment 24.
Introducing the report, Laura Mas de la Rosa, Director of the Department of Children, Adolescents and Youth, Ministry of Social Affairs and Civil Service of Andorra and head of the delegation, said Andorra was presenting the report in a totally different context since the last time it came before the Committee 10 years earlier. The health crisis caused by COVID-19 and the global crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine had had considerable impact, but had not deterred Andorra from its commitment to the rights of children and adolescents. While children's rights were a priority for Andorra, the State recognised that there were many challenges to overcome and welcomed the Committee's recommendations.
Concerning housing, the delegation said Andorra was providing support for renters. The amount of housing support provided by the State had increased from 30 to 35 per cent of rental costs for the general population, and by a greater amount for vulnerable groups. Families could receive up to 100 per cent of their monthly rent in rent support. The Government was also acquiring land to build accessible, affordable housing to meet the needs of vulnerable families and 10 million euros had been invested in this project.
The law on the criminal responsibility of minors aimed to adapt the age of criminal responsibility to the Convention, the delegation said. A series of measures were implemented to reintegrate children who came in conflict with the law into family and school environments. Crimes that were not serious were dealt with in family and school environments. More serious crimes were addressed with medical treatment and workshops. The last resort was hearings at either a children’s court or a criminal court.
In closing remarks, Hynd Ayoubi Idrissi, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Taskforce for Andorra, commended Andorra on its efforts to protect the rights of children, expressing her belief that much more would be done for children in the future. Ms. Ayoubi Idrissi called on the State to consider the Committee’s concluding observations when it developed measures for children. The rights of the child had always been prioritised in Andorra and the State party needed to continue to do this.
Ms. Mas de la Rosa, in closing remarks, said that the delegation appreciated the Committee’s comments and questions, and had tried to provide detailed responses. All persons who had participated in the dialogue had exerted great efforts to promote the rights of the child. The Government was committed to protecting those rights. The Committee’s concluding observations would guide the efforts of the State to support and protect its children.
Ann Marie Skelton, Committee Chair, in her closing remarks, said that it was a great pleasure to welcome the delegation on Andorra’s national day. Andorra had pursued many important measures to implement the Convention and made much progress, but more could always be done. Ms. Skelton expressed hope that the State party would continue to work to protect the rights of the child.
The delegation of Andorra consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Civil Service; the Ministry of Education and Institutional Relations; the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs; the Ministry of Health; the Prosecutor’s Office; the Andorran Health Assistance Service; and the Permanent Mission of Andorra to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of Andorra at the end of its ninety-fourth session on 22 September. Those and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage.
Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s ninety-fourth session and other documents related to the session can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Monday, 11 September to begin its consideration of the combined third and fourth periodic report of Liechtenstein (CRC/C/LIE/3-4).
The Committee has before it the combined third to fifth periodic report of Andorra (CRC/C/AND/3-5).
Presentation of Report
LAURA MAS DE LA ROSA, Director of the Department of Children, Adolescents and Youth, Ministry of Social Affairs and Civil Service of Andorra and head of the delegation, said Andorra was presenting the report in a totally different context since the last time it came before the Committee 10 years earlier. The health crisis caused by COVID-19 and the global crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine had had considerable impact, but had not deterred Andorra from its commitment to the rights of children and adolescents. The Consell General or the General Council, the Andorran Parliament, adopted the Qualified Act on the Rights of Children and Adolescents on 15 February 2019, replacing the 1996 law on adoption and other forms of protection of helpless minors which had become obsolete. The Act modernised, updated and unified the sectoral regulations, putting the interests of children at the centre of the system.
Children and adolescents had actively participated in the drafting of the Act. To fulfil the obligations arising from the Act, the Department of Children, Adolescence and Youth was established to coordinate matters relating to children and adolescents in Andorra, enabling the Government to provide a more adequate response.
The National Commission for Children and Adolescents was renewed to coordinate the policies and measures adopted by the administration relating to children and adolescents. One of the main tasks of the Commission was the coordination of the first National Plan for the Care of Children and Adolescents, which was adopted by the Government in 2022 after an extensive process of consultation and participation of children and adolescents. With regard to the protection system, a framework was established on interventions arising from situations of risk or neglect which required the effective coordination of services aimed at the prevention, detection, notification and referral of situations of abuse. The mechanisms for reporting risk situations were also strengthened. A free hotline for children was introduced which was active 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Since 2012, the Criminal Code had undergone multiple reforms to comply with the recommendations of the international organizations to which Andorra was a party and the guidelines of the international conventions that it had ratified. These were related to issues including the prosecution and punishment of the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography, sexual abuse, domestic violence and trafficking. The qualified law of the person and the family 30/2022 of July 21, 2022 replaced the traditional concept of parental authority and now emphasised that parental authority needed to be exercised jointly by both parents. The Government also approved the law of the statistics plan 2022-2025 which consolidated data, providing the Government with better information for the elaboration, implementation and evaluation of public policies. Under this law, work was being done on text to regulate the unified register of abuse and to centralise all notifications related to the abuse of children and adolescents. The law also ensured the creation of an intensive protection centre for the care and education of adolescents in crisis situations.
Child and adolescent mental health were a priority for Andorra, emphasised by the adoption of the comprehensive plan for mental health and addictions. Furthermore, the Community Rehabilitation Service for Adolescents was created, which served as a pioneering rehabilitation unit to ensure continuity of care for adolescents with severe mental disorders. Special work had been done to improve attention to diversity and inclusive education. The schooling model for students with disabilities accommodated all students, guaranteeing the free choice of the educational system and resources in schools. The model also included a reception programme for newly arrived and refugee pupils, and a protocol for monitoring the schooling of pupils who were unable to attend school in person. Children with disabilities were also guaranteed full health coverage.
In 2022, in response to the global urgency to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, the Government launched a free voucher for public transport. A working group of the Government accompanied young people from Andorra in the youth movement "Friday for Future" to approve the declaration of climate emergency, leading the international recognition of Andorra's commitment to the fight against climate change. Ms. Mas de la Rosa underscored that while children's rights were a priority for Andorra, the State recognised there were many challenges to overcome and welcomed the Committee's recommendations.
Questions by Committee Experts
HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Taskforce for Andorra, wished Andorra a happy national day. She congratulated Andorra on all the legal amendments made since the last review. Had Andorra considered adopting the third Optional Protocol to the Convention? She congratulated Andorra on the Qualified Act on the Rights of Children and Adolescents, but asked what had been done in implementing the regulations. Had lessons been learned from the previous national action plan? Who was responsible for coordinating the implementation of the provisions of the Convention? What was the funding and staffing available to the coordination mechanism? Had Andorra reflected on adopting child friendly budgeting?
What measures had been taken to equip the State with a national statistics body which would cover all the provisions of the Convention? What was being done to disseminate information about the Convention, particularly to children? Which entity received complaints from children? Could the Ombudsman receive complaints and was it really a monitoring mechanism in line with the Paris Principles? Was there a regulatory framework for the tourism sector? Was the legal age of marriage 16, without any exceptions? Was corporal punishment banned in all settings? Was there a confidential complaints mechanism for children at school? Were children taught how to protect themselves from violence?
SUZANNE AHO, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, commended Andorra on having 100 per cent birth registration. How much time went by before a birth was registered? Was it free of charge? Were the children of migrants born in Andorra registered? Andorra granted a temporary passport; how long did this last and when was a definitive passport granted? Were measures taken to protect data? Had any measures been taken to protect children from harmful online material and content, such as gambling? Had measures been taken to raise awareness about digital skills?
RINCHEN CHOPHEL, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, congratulated Andorra on the significant progress achieved in many areas since the last report. He was pleased to note that the Government had added many measures to protect children against discrimination, including legislative measures. However, concern remained around stereotypes of girls and children with disabilities. What measures were being taken to eliminate discriminatory practices against girls and children with disabilities? Andorra was commended for putting in place the requirements for ensuring the best interests of the child in the Qualified Act on the Rights of Children and Adolescents. What tangible actions were taken to monitor compliance to this? What strategic approaches were in place to strengthen children’s views in all areas affecting them?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said the third Optional Protocol was currently under consideration but an update could not be provided at this time. Regarding the Qualified Act on the Rights of Children and Adolescents, this was a very ambitious document, and many activities needed to be undertaken by the various ministries which dealt with different aspects of children’s lives. Regulations had been drawn up for the Commission of Children and Adolescents with the aim of providing the rules to establish policy on children and adolescents. Regulations were being updated on adoption to underscore the search for origin and international adoption.
The drafting of the national action plan was supported by two Council of European experts. Government officials, local authorities and journalists were also involved in the drafting of the plan. A proposal was drawn up containing 42 actions to promote the national plan. There were children’s committees where children between the ages of 6 and 12 provided feedback on the provisions of the plan. Teachers collected proposals from the children and this feedback was provided to the National Youth Council. Between the ages of 16 and 18, children could participate in the Youth Commission which had a diverse range of members, including children with disabilities.
In 2021, the Department of Children, Adolescents and Youth was created within the Department of Social Affairs. Resources could be improved, but Andorra was in a position to provide a response through programmes which already existed. One issue which was being worked on was budgetary allocation and budgetary share. Work was being carried out with the Ministry of Finance and the Statistics Department to determine the exact budget for children’s affairs. Data had been collected on risk situations, and it was ensured that reporting procedures were simple. The online reporting facility made it easy for professionals working in the field to notify at risk situations they came across in their daily work.
A decree established data collection by the School Inspectorate Service, which collected data from all schools. This information was used to draw conclusions, which were then disseminated to those responsible for education, with a view to combatting school bullying. The Ministry of Education had data on children at risk. There was also a joint project with the Statistics Office which established whether children were attending the correct school year for their age. It was hard to obtain data on school dropouts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, debating sessions were established with the national parliament and civil society on rights, including the right to education. This right was endangered during the lockdown. Andorra had three education systems which were free of charge.
Every year, campaigns were held which taught children about their rights. A joint strategy with the Ministry of Sport aimed to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. There were activities led by the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the Government was planning the future strategy for raising awareness of the rights of children, youth, and adolescents. Children had access to complaints procedures, including where minors over the age of 12 could meet privately with the Ombudsman to present a complaint to them. Minors could also go before the police services to present complaints.
There were three different groups of minors who worked, including those with weekend jobs, and they were all closely monitored by the labour inspectorate. So far this year, there had been a total of 499 requests for minors’ contracts. On the definition of the child, this encompassed boys, girls and adolescents until they became of age. The age of marriage was set at 18 and the law stipulated that those under the age of 18 could not marry. It was no longer possible to marry under the age of 18 in Andorra; the law did allow minors to emancipate themselves once they were 16 or older.
Corporal punishment was criminalised in all forms in Andorra, including within the family realm. The Criminal Code governed multiple behaviour on corporal punishment and physical abuse. A perpetrator of abuse could face up to 12 years in prison, or an even harsher sentence. Female genital mutilation was also criminalised under the Criminal Code. Use of corporal punishment always resulted in the arrest of the perpetrator, rather than a fine. It was then determined if the minor required protection measures, such as removing parental authority or a temporary prohibition of the parent being in proximity to the child.
Public administrations were obligated to protect children and adolescents against all forms of ill treatment or abuse. The Social Action Protocol was used to address situations of risk for children without shelter. In all possible cases, Andorra aimed to have all evidence to ensure that children did not have to make statements in court. If the family could not provide resources for physical and psychological recovery, this was provided free of charge. Schools often provided for the first channel of communication, as children and teachers spent a lot of time together and teachers could quickly report on situations of abuse.
An online tool was made available to all secondary school pupils on their devices, once authorised. It was previously used to report on school bullying but could also be used to report on health risks or situations at home. The messages were received by three people at the school who would address the situation. If the child trusted the mechanism, they would provide their name and support would be provided. However, sometimes children retracted their statements and support could not be provided. All schools aside from two had the tool in place, and peer support services were available in those two schools. A hotline was also in place which linked to the School Inspectorate Service. If girls faced abuse at parties, they could take this up with the school and this would be managed with the corresponding mechanism.
The Civil Registry Act established that all legal acts pertaining to civil identity needed to be registered. All births in Andorra needed to be registered on the civil registry in 15 days, although this could be extended to 30 days if justified. Births abroad were also registered if one of the parents was Andorran. Parents, relatives, and doctors were responsible for birth registration. All civil registration acts were free of charge, but there was a levy for issuing a certificate. Migrant children were registered on the civil registry. A child of stateless persons born in Andorra was Andorran, however, this lapsed if the child was given the nationality of one of the parents. Children born in Andorra and whose parents were foreign could acquire Andorran nationality after 10 years. According to the law, they needed to decide whether to retain this nationality or not. Temporary passports were not a temporary nationality.
A data protection agency was established in 2015; it was a legally autonomous public body that ensured that personal data use safeguarded fundamental rights and privacy. The agency acted fully independently from the Andorran Government. Andorra was a party to the Personal Data Convention. In Andorran schools, all pupils had access to iPads, laptops and desktop computers. Rules had been created for using these devices, and a cyber security plan was also created, which outlined responsibilities for pupils, teachers and families. Families were informed about risks of hypersexuality and sexual text messaging. Workshops were also held for young people on the risks of TikTok and other social media and how to protect themselves.
A holistic plan on secondary victimisation had been drawn up, including the use of a story which adapted a traditional folk story to explain this issue to children. Media were called on to protect identifies and not to identify children who had been exposed to certain situations. An awareness raising plan for gender on use in schools had also been drawn up. There was an awareness raising campaign in schools for gender equality, with a focus on girls with disabilities. There was an equality officer in every school to ensure gender equality. A network was created among these officers to ensure all material was shared. The Criminal Code regulated the use of children’s images and reporting.
Questions by Committee Experts
RINCHEN CHOPHEL, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, asked whether there was explicit prohibition in the law on discrimination. Could perspective on patriarchal norms be provided? It was understood that measures were in place for childcare for working parents; however, this did not extend for certain categories of parents, such as those in the tourism industry. What was the situation of equality sharing of parental responsibilities? What types of resources were allocated for the implementation of the law on social and health services? Children who could not stay with their families were only placed in residential care as a last resort, which was noteworthy. Could the delegation expand on this further? What kind of resources were available for foster care or adoption? How was it ensured that the best interest of the child was guaranteed in adoption settings?
Mr. Chophel noted with appreciation the measures taken to ensure children with disabilities had the same rights as other children in the State party. What type of measures were being implemented to raise awareness on the rights and needs of children with disabilities? Were these accompanied by appropriate budgetary allocations? What was being done to enhance the capacity of child professionals on the needs of children with disabilities? What access did children with disabilities have in terms of personal devices?
SUZANNE AHO, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, asked about children who did not have a residency permit; how did they have access to free health care? Could data be provided on the rate of breast feeding? What measures had been taken to promote breast feeding in the country? What was the current status on decriminalising abortion? What abortion services were available? Was there access to contraception? What measures had been taken to address obesity and drug use? What had been done to prevent suicide among children and adolescents? What measures had been taken to combat drug use among youth and ensure early detection in schools? Were there any services made available to address addiction? What measures were being taken to care for these children at a community level? What was being done to combat the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco among youth? There was no section in the report on HIV/AIDS; did this not exist in Andorra?
Housing was insufficient and conditions were questionable. What were the policies in this area? What were the programmes to combat poverty? What was the forecast of the ongoing budgetary cuts? Were there special programmes for targeted populations?
LUIS ERNESTO PEDERNERA REYNA, Vice Chair of the Committee and and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, said education was compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16. Did the Government plan to make school compulsory and free, even for children aged three to six, to ensure parents with working commitments could have their children present in school? Why was no data published on dropout rates? What measures would schools take to address the dropout rate? What measures had been taken to address harassment of children? What had been the impact of closing schools during the COVID-19 pandemic? How were children involved to provide their input on the right to leisure and access to culture? The humanitarian policy Andorra had with Ukrainian and Syrian children was appreciated. However, some adjustments were necessary in the national legislation, particularly for children seeking asylum. Would this legislation be reviewed to be brought in line with the Convention?
LUIS ERNESTO PEDERNERA REYNA, Vice Chair and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, asked what measures were being taken to implement law 31 of 2018, which raised the age of joining the labour market to the age of 15? Since 2017, there were no children in Andorran prisons. The minimum age of criminal liability currently stood at 12, but this could be raised to 14. The age of detention could be raised to 16, as suggested by the Committee in general comment 24. What was considered a situation of risk for a minor?
HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, asked about the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Who was responsible for the coordination and follow-up of implementation? What was being done to organise the workshop devoted to the Optional Protocol, which had not yet taken place? What measures had been taken to implement the Protocol into the school curriculum? Sale of children was not the same as trafficking. What was being planned to expressly criminalise the sale of children? Andorra had no army, but there could be enrolment of children by non-State armed groups abroad. What was the legal basis that the State would use in such a case? Would the State party consider expressly criminalising the use of children in armed forces? Andorra was commended for its show of solidarity in receiving children from Ukraine. Had training been conducted on dealing with children who had participated in armed forces?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said there were a series of acts that prohibited discrimination specifically in Andorra. The Constitution and law 13 of 2019 on discrimination stated that no person should be discriminated against on the basis of age. Act six of the 2022 law on equal rights set out ways of preventing discrimination, stigma and stereotypes, and aimed to prevent discrimination against women and girls. It called on public authorities to disseminate material that did not have sexist content and required public officials to be trained on preventing discrimination.
When guardians of single parent families worked in the tourism sector, the State provided them with subsidies and additional support to ensure that their basic needs were met. The State was working to ensure that a balance could be struck between work and family life. In the national plan for childhood, there were measures to support families that did not have access to employment, including a family support network supported by civil society organizations.
The State promoted family-based care, and supported foster families when such care was unavailable. Psychosocial support was provided free of charge to foster families. The State would be increasing the budget for this service. The level of support for families welcoming children with disabilities had been increased. There were continuous awareness raising campaigns and capacity-building efforts for foster families. A service provided job seeking and psychological support to children leaving foster homes. The State only processed international adoptions when international human rights standards were respected. The State was drafting and finalising a regulation on adoptions.
The right of children to visit their parents in prisons was provided. Family members or social workers accompanied children to visit their parents. Visitation occurred in child-friendly rooms with toys. In one case, a woman had given birth while deprived of liberty. She was housed in a separate unit and provided with goods necessary to care for her baby.
The mother-child programme implemented within 11 dedicated health care centres promoted breastfeeding. The State had also conducted over 800 home visits to promote breastfeeding. Women who wished to interrupt their pregnancy were provided with information and support. There were 109 cases of HIV/AIDS that had been diagnosed in the last five years. There were only three individuals under 19 years old who had contracted the disease. All these people were being monitored. Minors were provided with health care regardless of their migration status.
Workshops were offered to primary school children on health, hygiene and sexuality. Some 15,000 children participated in these workshops each year. Workshops were also held in secondary schools on sexual and reproductive health. There was a high level of participation in these workshops each year.
The State had developed a mental health plan up to 2030. Youth mental health units had been established with specialised services for children of different ages. Psychologists went to children’s homes and schools to offer care in those environments. Multi-disciplinary teams were established in hospitals and communities to provide mental health support. Families were included in treatment and recovery phases, and the State also worked with schools to ensure that minors were integrated into schools after receiving treatment. Specific programmes were in place for autism, substance abuse and addiction, among others. One thousand children were being cared for in mental health units. The State was working to prevent suicide, offering free appointments with psychologists for at-risk children.
The law on public security prevented minors from buying alcoholic drinks. Alternate sentencing was provided to minors consuming drugs and alcohol. These included fines and an alternative rehabilitation programme. Information and outreach programmes aimed to prevent minors’ consumption of drugs and alcohol.
Since 2010, all schools had implemented measures to reduce their energy consumption and protect the environment. There were clean-up days and tree planting days held by schools. Workshops were held annually at all schools on environmental conservation. The State was providing 10,000 euros to schools to develop green recreational spaces.
Between 6 and 16 years of age, education was compulsory, and the State aimed to change this to 3 to 18 years of age. There was already a high level of participation of children aged three to six, but there was work to do to raise the participation rate for children aged 16 to 18. Vocational training was provided for various professions to high school-age children. Students who participated in vocational training could obtain a baccalaureate degree and access higher education. A special inspection service was in place to prevent school dropouts. Places were reserved in professional programmes for children who had dropped out of secondary school. There were 139 pupils who were absent from school for a few weeks because they returned to their countries of origin for extended holiday periods. These pupils were provided with customised curricula to help them catch up with their peers. There were also 53 students who were absent for unidentified reasons. A new protocol to manage data on absences more efficiently was being developed.
In Andorra, schools were closed for around two months during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, teachers endeavoured to ensure that students continued classes virtually. Computers and tablets were provided by the State to support distance education. After the closures were lifted, social education was provided by specialists to support students’ mental health. The State had this year received only 21 reports of bullying in schools, which were addressed without requiring students to change schools.
The law on the criminal responsibility of minors aimed to bring the age of criminal responsibility in line with the Convention. Crimes that were not serious were dealt with in family and school environments. More serious crimes were addressed with medical treatment and workshops. The last resort was hearings at either a children’s court or a criminal court. Minors had not been held in pre-trial detention for many years. The rights of the accused were protected in court, and the judiciary made efforts to prevent revictimizing victims. Victims received support and gave testimonies in protection facilities.
Questions by Committee Experts
SUZANNE AHO, Committee Expert and Member of the Taskforce for Andorra, said there was a fee of 90 euros for birth registration. What was the impact of the fee? Did everyone receive a birth certificate? Was appropriate health care provided to adolescents who had abortions? Why did the State party not have data on obesity? This could inform policies to prevent obesity. There needed to be a budget for a community-based rehabilitation system for persons with drug or alcohol addictions. Andorra was among the least-polluting countries. Were children made aware of the impact of climate change? Were there programmes or policies in place to combat poverty?
A Committee Expert said Andorra did not have child prisoners. The State was working in line with its international commitments. However, there were serious offences in all societies. How did the State manage not to resort to deprivation of liberty in such cases? Were cases of addictions deemed a healthcare problem or a criminal offence? What happened if therapeutic treatment did not work? How did the State party ensure that there was no contact between perpetrators and victims during judicial processes?
Another Committee Expert said the State party was emphasising a multidisciplinary approach to child justice. Was the State party collaborating with the Council of Europe in its efforts to protect victims? How did it strike a balance between protecting the best interests of the child and promoting due process?
One Committee Expert said cases of domestic violence needed to reach a certain level of severity for imprisonment to be issued as a sanction. What sanctions were issued for cases of less severity, and what services were provided to victims?
HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Taskforce for Andorra, asked about the responsibility of the business sector in cases regarding the rights of the child and the right to a healthy environment. What was being planned to ensure that this sector could be held to account if it harmed the rights of the child? What reparation was provided to child victims?
A Committee Expert asked whether the current education for children below the age of six was private or public. Was early education free? The Expert commended measures to prevent school dropouts. Could students who selected technical education go back to mainstream education? Returning to mainstream education was problematic in some countries. How did students who were absent for extended periods catch up?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said housing costs were increasing. The State was providing support for renters. There was also a lack of housing. Leases could be increased by no greater than 10 per cent and the amount of housing support provided by the State had increased from 30 to 35 per cent of rental costs for the general population, and by a greater amount for vulnerable groups. Families could receive up to 100 per cent of their monthly rent in rent support. The Government had created the National Institute on Housing to address housing issues. State flats were provided to families in vulnerable situations for up to two years. The Government was also acquiring land to build accessible, affordable housing to meet the needs of vulnerable families and 10 million euros had been invested in this project. These measures would help to guarantee access to housing.
Registration of minors after birth did not have immediate costs, but a tax of up to 90 euros could be applied after processing. Free legal aid could be provided for people who did not have the resources to pay the tax.
Accused persons were provided with the right to ask questions in courts. Victims were asked those questions through a judge in protection facilities or closed rooms. The judiciary ensured that victims and perpetrators did not cross paths. Information on meetings with minors could not be published. Crimes committed by minors needed to have consequences if they could not be solved in family or community environments. Alternative punishments could be issued for minors. The State prioritised finding solutions in family settings. Minors who graffitied were asked to clean up that graffiti. Other social and educational measures encouraged minor offenders to reintegrate into society.
Judges and the social services were involved in investigating child sex offences. The State was a member of the Lanzarote Committee. Protocols were also in place to investigate cases of gender-based violence. The victim support centre provided psychological support and shelter for children and adult victims of domestic violence. In 2022, 10 mothers and minor victims were housed in shelters and provided with psychological and economic support. The Government was adopting gender perspectives in its daily work.
There were around 2,000 students enrolled in early childhood education, of whom 1,900 were enrolled in public education facilities. Students in the professional training programme could return to the mainstream baccalaureate programme after having graduated from the professional programme. Degrees were also provided to young people who had equivalent professional experience to that provided through the training programme. Students who missed school due to holidays were provided with extra homework and classes to help them catch up with their peers. In the natural and social science programmes in schools, health, sustainable development and climate change were addressed. Students analysed the impacts of climate change on their lives and environment.
Public and private centres provided children with disabilities with access to leisure activities. Follow-up and oversight were conducted when there were requests to access leisure activities.
Abortion had been debated in Andorra for some time. The Government was developing measures to provide the best possible response to requests to carry out abortions in a timetable that was feasible for all stakeholders.
When a child committed a criminal act, a team of specialists from the Ministry of Social Affairs evaluated the situation of the child and if they determined that there were issues that could be addressed, response measures were implemented. The team also worked to protect the rights of the offender and their family.
HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Taskforce for Andorra, said the delegation had provided detailed responses concerning the implementation of the Convention in Andorra. She commended the State on its efforts to protect the rights of children, expressing her belief that much more would be done for children in the future. Ms. Ayoubi Idrissi called on the State to consider the Committee’s concluding observations when it developed measures for children. The rights of the child had always been prioritised in Andorra and the State party needed to continue to do this.
LAURA MAS DE LA ROSA, Director of the Department of Children, Adolescents and Youth, Ministry of Social Affairs and Civil Service of Andorra and head of the delegation, said that the delegation appreciated the Committee’s comments and questions, and had tried to provide detailed responses. All persons who participated in the dialogue had exerted great efforts to promote the rights of the child. The Government was committed to protecting those rights. The Committee’s concluding observations would guide the efforts of the State to support and protect its children.
ANN MARIE SKELTON, Committee Chair, said that it was a great pleasure to welcome the delegation on Andorra’s national day. Andorra had pursued many important measures to implement the Convention and made much progress, but more could always be done. Ms. Skelton expressed hope that the State party would continue to work to protect the rights of the child.
Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.