Civil Liberties in Andorra

Overview

Andorra has a parliamentary system of governance and free and fair elections are held every four years. Civil liberties and political rights are commonly respected. The country has rigid naturalization criteria, and more than half of the populace consists of noncitizens who lack the right to vote. Abortion remains completely outlawed, and there is a significant wage gap between gents and ladies. The miniscule Jewish and Muslim communities lack dedicated cemeteries, and the nation lacks any recognized mosque.

Civil Liberties

A. Freedom of Expression and Belief

Is free and independent media present?            

There are quite a few daily and weekly newspapers, and the country’s solitary domestic television station is operated by the public broadcaster Ràdio i Televisió d’Andorra. Residents have access to a selection of foreign media services. While press freedom is respected in general, criminal defamation laws continue on the books, and political, business, and religious interests have traditionally influenced media coverage; reporting on the activities of Andorra’s banks has been particularly hard. The largest media outlets are dependent on state advertising, which restricts their opportunities to condemn the government.

Do individuals enjoy freedom to practice and express their religious belief or disbelief in public and private?

Freedom of religion is upheld in general, but the Roman Catholic Church enjoys a privileged status that lets it to draw on some state support and side-step some bureaucratic processes that other faith groups need to adhere to.

Notwithstanding years of negotiations between the Muslim community and the government, there is no recognized mosque for the country’s approximately 2,000 Muslims. The government has held meetings with Muslim and Jewish communities to deliberate about the possible establishment of a special cemetery where those groups could carry out burials according to their customs and beliefs, but negligible progress has been made.

Is there academic liberty, and is the education system free from undue political indoctrination?

There are no constraints on academic liberty, and the educational system is free from indoctrination.

Are individuals free to express their personal opinions on political or other sensitive subjects without fright of surveillance or retribution?

There are no significant restrictions on personal expression or independence of private discussion. Authorities are not known to unlawfully monitor private online communications. Nevertheless, authorities clamped slander charges on activist Vanessa Mendoza Cortés in 2020, who advocated for safe abortions, which Amnesty International and international human rights groups akin to it called an attack on freedom of expression.

B. Associational and Organizational Rights

Is there freedom of assembly?

Andorran law affords freedom of assembly, and the government honours this right in practice. Demonstrations in opposition to government policies and in reaction to other social and political controversies takes place occasionally. Authorities forced temporary restrictions on large gatherings during 2020 to restrict the spread of COVID-19. In 2021 demonstrations against the prohibition on abortion drew hundreds of participants.

Is there freedom for NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), particularly those that are involved in human rights– and governance-related work?

Various NGOs function without constraints. Human rights groups are let to publish their findings in general and they can advocate for improvements without repercussions. Nonetheless, Vanessa Mendoza Cortés (leader of the women’s rights organization Stop Violence), was charged with slandering the co-princes and state institutions in July 2020 by testifying before a UN body in 2019 about the abortion ban.

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