Freedom in the World
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In February 2005, the Council of Europe's Committee for the prevention of torture carried out its third visit to San Marino. The European Union (EU) Savings Taxation Directive, which taxes savings accounts held by European citizens in the country, came into effect in July.
Founded in the year 301, San Marino is the world's oldest and second-smallest republic (after Vatican City). Although the Sammarinesi are ethnically and culturally Italian, they have succeeded in maintaining their independence against great odds since the fourth century. The papacy recognized San Marino's independence in 1631, as did the Congress of Vienna after the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. In 1862, Italy and San Marino signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation that began a long period of closeness between the two countries. Despite its dependence on Italy, from which it currently receives budget subsidies, San Marino maintains its own political institutions. It became a member of the Council of Europe in 1988 and a member of the United Nations in 1992. Tourism and banking dominate the country's economy.
Early elections called in June 2001 led to the return of a coalition of the Christian Democrats (PDCS) and the Socialist Party (PSS). The PDCS won 25 seats, the PSS 15, the Party of Democrats (PD) 12, the Popular Alliance of Democrats (APDS) 5, the Communist Refoundation (RC) 2, and the National Alliance (AN) 1. A government crisis late in 2003 was resolved in December of that year with the replacement of the minister of foreign affairs.
The world famous Italian opera singer Renata Tebaldi died at her home in San Marino in December 2004. She was 82 and had lived in San Marino for twenty years. A highly acclaimed soprano, Tebaldi was, during her long career, a great rival of Maria Callas's.
In February 2005, the Council of Europe's Committee for the prevention of torture carried out its third visit to the country. The delegation followed up concerns that were raised in previous visits about detentions at San Marino Prison and safeguards offered to people detained by law enforcement agencies.
The European Union (EU) Savings Taxation Directive, which provides a way to tax revenue from savings accounts held by European citizens in a member state other than their own country of residence or in certain non-EU countries, came into effect on July 1. San Marino agreed to participate in the directive, which is intended to prevent harmful tax practices.
In October, Claudio Muccioli and Antonello Bacciochi were elected as captains-regent-joint heads of state. The term of office for captains-regent is six months.
The Sammarinesi can change their government democratically. The 60 members of the Great and General Council (a unicameral legislature) are elected every five years by proportional representation. The executive power of the country rests with the 10-mem-ber Congress of State (cabinet), which is headed by the two captains-regent selected every spring and fall by the Great and General Council from among the council's own members to serve as joint heads of state for a six-month period. Although there is no official prime minister, the secretary of state for foreign affairs has assumed some of the position's prerogatives.
The PDCS, PSS, and the PD are the three dominant political parties in the country. Due to the small size of the country and its low population, no party gains an absolute majority and the government is usually run by a coalition of parties.
There are few problems with corruption in the country. San Marino was not ranked in Transparency International's 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index.
Freedom of speech and the press is guaranteed in San Marino. There are daily newspapers, a state-run broadcast system for radio and television called RTV, and a private FM station, Radio Titiano. The Sammarinesi have access to all Italian print media and certain Italian broadcast stations. Access to the internet is unrestricted.
The country prohibits religious discrimination by law. Roman Catholicism is the dominant, but not the state, religion. People can request a donation of 0.3 percent of their income through their taxes to be allocated to the Catholic Church or other churches such as the Waldesian Church or the Jehovah's Witnesses. Academic freedom is respected in the country.
People are free to assemble, demonstrate, and conduct open public discussions. Despite the small size of the country, people join civic organizations. Workers are free to organize into trade unions and bargain collectively with employers. They are also free to strike, if they do not work in military occupations. Approximately half of the country's workforce is unionized.
The judiciary is independent. Lower court judges are required to be noncitizens- generally Italians-to assure impartiality. The final court of review is San Marino's Council of Twelve, a group of judges chosen for six-year terms from among the members of the Grand and General Council. The country's prison system generally meets international standards, and civilian authorities maintain effective control over the police and security forces.
The population is generally treated equally under the law, although the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance has raised some concerns in the past about the status of foreigners in the country. Most of the foreign-born residents are Italians; only about 2 percent-mostly women from Central and Eastern Europe who work as private nurses for the elderly and ill-come from outside the EU. San Marino has no formal asylum policy, and a foreigner must live in the country for 30 years to be eligible for citizenship. The European Convention on Nationality recommends that the period of residence before a foreigner can apply for citizenship should not exceed 10 years. In 2001, San Marino ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Women are given legal protections from violence and spousal abuse, and gender equality exists in the workplace and elsewhere. There are, however, slight differences in the way men and women can transmit citizenship to their children. The country has restrictive laws regarding abortion, which is permitted only to save the life of the mother.