Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
The Andorran government has worked in recent years to address the country’s reputation as a tax haven and bring its financial laws into compliance with the standards of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including a value-added tax of 4.5 percent that went into effect in January 2013. In June, Andorra announced that it would collect its first income tax starting in 2016. A number of laws enacted in February also aimed to align Andorra with international standards, addressing issues including organizational requirements and operations in the financial sector. In November, the government signed the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.
Also during the year, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled in January in favor of a man who claimed discrimination because Andorra denied him survivor benefits after his husband’s death. The couple had married in Spain, and Andorra does not allow same-sex marriage.
Political Rights: 39 / 40 [Key]
A. Electoral Process: 12 / 12
Andorra is governed under a parliamentary system. Two “co-princes,” the French president and the bishop of La Seu d’Urgell, Spain, serve jointly as ceremonial heads of state. Popular elections are held every four years for the 28-member Consell General, which selects the executive council president—the head of government. Half of the members are chosen in two-seat constituencies known as parishes, and the other half are chosen through a national system of proportional representation.
The last elections were held in April 2011, after two years of government deadlock. The Democrats for Andorra (DA) won 20 seats, followed by the Social Democratic Party (PS) with 6 and the Lauredian Union with 2. Antoni Martí became the new head of government.
B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 15 / 16
The people have the right to establish and join different political parties, and the 2011 elections marked a change of power from the PS to the DA. However, more than 50 percent of the population consists of noncitizens who do not have the right to vote. Under Andorra’s restrictive naturalization criteria, one must marry a resident Andorran or live in the country for more than 20 years to qualify for citizenship. Prospective citizens are also required to learn Catalan, the national language.
C. Functioning of Government: 12 / 12
In June 2011, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) released a report finding “shortcomings” in Andorra’s bribery laws and calling for tougher penalties for bribery and influence peddling. GRECO also highlighted inadequate campaign finance laws. A GRECO compliance report published in November 2013 concluded that Andorra had satisfactorily implemented only 3 of the 20 recommendations from the 2011 report.
Civil Liberties: 57 / 60
D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 16 / 16
Freedom of speech is respected across the country. There are two independent daily newspapers, Diari d’Andorra and El Periòdic d’Andorra, and two free weekday papers, Diari Bondia and Diari Més. There is only one Andorran television station, operated by the public broadcaster Ràdio i Televisió d’Andorra. Residents also have access to broadcasts from neighboring France and Spain. Internet access is unrestricted.
Although the constitution recognizes the state’s special relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, the government no longer subsidizes it. Religious minorities like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are free to seek converts. Despite years of negotiations between the Muslim community and the government, there is no proper mosque for the country’s roughly 1,000 Muslims. While requests to convert public buildings or former churches for this purpose have been denied, the government does provide the Muslim community with public facilities for various religious functions. Academic freedom is respected.
E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 11 / 12
Freedoms of assembly and association are generally respected, and domestic and international human rights organizations operate freely. While the government recognizes that both workers and employers have the right to defend their interests, the right to strike is not legally guaranteed. There are also no laws in place to penalize antiunion discrimination or regulate collective bargaining, although a 2009 law guarantees unions the right to operate. In March 2012, a survey by the Union of Workers of Andorra la Vella collected widespread complaints about workplace corruption, as well as physical and psychological abuse of workers. Although the government expressed concern over the report, no specific steps have been taken to investigate the issues in question. In October and November 2012, police unions organized a strike to protest unfulfilled promises, especially in the area of pension reform.
F. Rule of Law: 15 / 16
The government generally respects the independence of the judiciary. Defendants enjoy the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial. Police can detain suspects for up to 48 hours without charge. In November 2013, the UN Committee against Torture evaluated Andorra’s prison conditions and reported that although they meet international standards, there were three reports of torture under investigation.
Although they do not have the right to vote, noncitizen residents receive most of the social and economic benefits of citizenship under Andorran law. In 2012, Andorra introduced a new law on residency, which applies to all those seeking nonwork residency permits. Applications are assessed under three categories: passive residency for individuals who can show they are financially self-sufficient, business residency for individuals who own foreign companies, and cultural residency for renowned artists and other public figures.
Immigrant workers, primarily from North Africa, complain that they lack the rights of citizens. Nearly 7,000 such immigrants have legal status, but many hold only “temporary work authorizations.” Temporary workers are in a precarious position, as they must leave the country when their job contract expires, leaving them vulnerable to potential abuse by employers.
G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 15 / 16
Citizens enjoy freedom of movement and have the right to own property. Legislation passed in 2012 fully opened the economy to foreign investors as well, allowing noncitizens to own up to 100 percent of any commercial entity.
Women enjoy the same legal rights as men. Half of the seats in the legislature are held by women. However, there are no specific laws addressing the problem of violence against women, nor are there any government departments for women’s issues or government-run shelters for battered women. Abortion is illegal, except to save the life of the mother.
Andorra does not allow same-sex marriage or unions. However, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled in January 2013 in favor of a man’s right to claim his late husband’s social security survivor benefits, citing a nondiscrimination clause in Andorra’s constitution. The couple had wed in Spain, which recognizes same-sex marriage.
X = Score Received
Y = Best Possible Score
Z = Change from Previous Year