International Criminology World

Europe : Andorra

Andorra is the last independent survivor of the March states, a number of buffer states created by Charlemagne to keep the Muslim Moors from advancing into Christian France. Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorran people in return for their fighting the Moors. In the 800s, Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, named the Count of Urgell Overlord of Andorra. A descendant of the Count later gave the lands to the diocese headed by Bishop of Seu d'Urgell.

In the 11th century, fearing military action by neighboring lords, the bishop placed himself under the protection of the Lord of Caboet, a Spanish nobleman. Later, the Count of Foix, a French noble, became heir to Lord Caboet through marriage, and a dispute arose between the French Count and the Spanish bishop over Andorra.

In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a pareage, a feudal institution recognizing the principle of equality of rights shared by two rulers. This pareage provided that Andorra's sovereignty would be shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell of Spain. The pareage gave the small state its territory and political form.

Over the years, the title was passed between French and Spanish rule until, in the reign of the French king Henry IV, an edict in 1607 established the head of the French state and the Bishop of Seu d'Urgell as Co-princes of Andorra.

Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain. In recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry along with developments in diplomatic activity, transportation, and communications have removed the country from its isolation.


Andorra's national income in 2001 was about $2.2 billion, with tourism as its principal component. Attractive for shoppers from France and Spain because of low taxes, the country also has developed active summer and winter tourist resorts. With some 270 hotels and 400 restaurants, as well as many shops, the tourist trade employs a growing portion of the domestic labor force.

There is a fairly active trade in consumer goods, including imported manufactured items, which, because they are taxed at lower rates, are less expensive in Andorra than in neighboring countries. Andorra's tax-free status also has had a significant effect on its relationship with the European Union. Andorran negotiations with the EU began in 1987. An agreement that went into effect in July 1991 sets duty-free quotas and places limits on certain items--mainly milk products, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages.

The results of Andorra's elections thus far indicate that many support the government's reform initiatives and believe Andorra must, to some degree, integrate into the European Union in order to continue to enjoy its prosperity. Although less than 2% of the land is arable, agriculture was the mainstay of the Andorran economy prior to the upsurge in tourism. Sheep raising has been the principal agricultural activity, but tobacco growing is lucrative. Most of Andorra's food is imported.

In addition to handicrafts, manufacturing includes cigars, cigarettes, and furniture for domestic and export markets. A hydroelectric plant at Les Escaldes, with a capacity of 26.5 megawatts, provides 40% of Andorra's electricity; Spain provides the rest.


The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. There is no state religion; however, the Constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, which receives some privileges not available to other faiths.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

The country has an area of 180.7 square miles, and a population of approximately 67,000. Very few official statistics are available relative to religion; however, traditionally approximately 90 percent of the population are Roman Catholic. The population consists largely of immigrants, with full citizens representing less than 37 percent of the total. The immigrants, who primarily are from Spain, Portugal, and France, also largely are Roman Catholic. It is estimated that, of the Catholic population, about half are active church attendees. Other religious groups include Muslims (who predominantly are represented among the approximately 2,000 North African immigrants and are split between two groups, one more fundamentalist); the New Apostolic Church; the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons); several Protestant denominations, including the Anglican Church; the Reunification Church; and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Foreign missionaries are active and operate without restriction. For example, the Mormons and members of Jehovah's Witnesses proselytize from door to door.

The Constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Roman Catholic Church "in accordance with Andorran tradition" and recognizes the "full legal capacity" of the bodies of the Catholic Church, granting them legal status "in accordance with their own rules." One of the two constitutionally designated princes of the country (who serves equally as joint head of state with the President of France) is Bishop Joan Vives Sicilia of the Spanish town of La Seu d'Urgell. The Catholic religious celebration on September 8 of the "Virgen de Merixtall" is also a national holiday.

There is no law that clearly requires legal registration and approval of religions and religious worship. In 2001 the Government passed a law of associations, which is very general and does not mention specifically religious affairs. Prior to the 2001 law, each Ministry had its own registry for associations. In August 2001, the Government opened a new, consolidated register of associations to replace the existing separate registries. The registry records all types of associations, including religious groups. Registration is not compulsory; however, groups must register or reregister in order to be considered for the support that the Government provides to nongovernmental organizations. In order to register or reregister, groups must provide the association statutes, the foundation agreement, a statement certifying the names of persons appointed to official or board positions in the organization, and a patrimony declaration that identifies the inheritance or endowment of the organization.

The authorities reportedly had expressed some concern regarding what treatment groups whose actions may be considered injurious to public health, safety, morals, or order should receive. The law does not limit any such groups, although it does contain a provision that no one may be "forced to join or remain in an association against his/her will."

In early 2003, the Muslim community requested that the Government provide a building to convert into a mosque. Authorities responded that the buildings identified by the Muslim community were either unavailable or not subject to government disposition. The Muslim community has also approached the Catholic Bishop asking that a former church, no longer utilized as such, be converted into a mosque. According to press reports, Catholic religious authorities are not supportive of the request. There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

Instruction in the tenets of the Catholic faith is available in public schools on an optional basis, outside of both regular school hours and the time frame set aside for elective school activities, such as civics or ethics. The Catholic Church provides teachers for religion classes, and the Government pays their salaries. The Cultural Islamic Center provides 43 students with Arabic lessons. The Government and the Moroccan community continue to discuss plans that would allow children to receive Arabic classes in school outside of the regular school day.

The Government has not taken any official steps to promote interfaith understanding, nor has it sponsored any programs or forums to coordinate interfaith dialog. However, it has been responsive to certain needs of the Muslim community. On occasion the Government has made public facilities available to various religious organizations for religious activities.

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such persons to be returned to the United States.

Societal attitudes between and among differing religious groups in general appear to be amicable and tolerant. For example, the Catholic Church of la Massana lends its sanctuary twice per month to the Anglican community, so that visiting Anglican clergy can conduct services for the English-speaking community. Although those who practice religions other than Roman Catholicism tend to be immigrants and otherwise not integrated fully into the local community, there appears to be little or no obstacle to their practicing their own religions.

There are no significant ecumenical movements or activities to promote greater mutual understanding among adherents of different religions.

An opinion poll published by the Institute of Andorran Studies on the "the values and traditions of the Andorran Society" indicates that 52 percent of citizens see themselves as "very religious people."

U.S. officials discuss religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. Both the U.S. Ambassador, resident in Madrid, and the Consul General, resident in Barcelona, have met with Bishop Vives, the leader of the Catholic community.


The crime rate in Andorra is low compared to more industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Andorra. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Andorra will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 3.03 per 100,000 population for Andorra, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 3.03 for Andorra, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 1.52 for Andorra, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2000 was 19.70 for Andorra, 23.78 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2000 was 527.27 for Andorra, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2000 was 1253.03 for Andorra, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2000 was 78.79 for Andorra, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 414.17 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 1886.37 for Andorra, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA.


Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 9.52 to 3.03 per 100,000 population, a decrease of 68.2 percent. The rate for rape decresed from 6.35 to 3.03, an decrease of 52.3 percent. The rate of robbery decreased from 11.11 to 1.52, a decrease of 86.3 percent. The rate for aggravated assault decreased from 25.4 to 19.7, a decrease of 22.4 percent. The rate for burglary decreased from 596.83 to 527.27, a decrease of 11.7 percent. The rate of larceny increased from 1201.59 to 1253.03 an increase of 4.3 percent. The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 107.94 to 78.79 and decrease of 27 percent. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 1958.74 to 1886.37 a decrease of 3.7 percent.


The judicial system is blended. Courts apply the customary laws of Andorra, supplemented with Roman law and customary Catalan law. Civil cases are first heard by the batlles court--a group of four judges, two chosen by each Co-prince. Appeals are heard in the Court of Appeals. The highest body is the five-member Superior Council of Justice.


The country has no defense force and depends on neighboring Spain and France for external defense. The national police, under effective civilian control, had sole responsibility for internal security.

Andorra has only a small internal police force. All able-bodied men who own firearms must serve, without remuneration, in the small army, which is unique in that all of its men are treated as officers. The army has not fought for more than 700 years, and its main responsibility is to present the Andorran flag at official ceremonies


The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observed these prohibitions.

Police legally may detain persons for 48 hours without charging them with a crime. Warrants are required for arrest. The Government declined to modify the law to provide individuals under arrest immediate access to an attorney. Legislation provides for legal assistance beginning 25 hours after the time of arrest. There was a system of bail.

The country is party to a network of 47 States with prisoner transfer agreements, and qualifying prisoners were permitted to serve their sentences in their own country.

The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and the Government did not employ it.


The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice. The highest judicial body is the five-member Superior Council of Justice. One member each is appointed by the two Princes; the head of government; the President of the Parliament; and collectively, members of the lower courts. Members of the judiciary are appointed for 6-year terms. The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. There were no reports of political prisoners.


Prison conditions generally met international standards. Men were held separately from women, as were juveniles from adults. Pretrial detainees also were held separately from convicted criminals. The Government permits visits by independent human rights observers; however, no such visits occurred during the year 2003



Violence against women increased in year 2003. There were no formal barriers for women in government and politics, but relatively few women ran for office. There were 4 women in the 28-member Parliament, and 3 women held Cabinet-level positions.

There were reports that violence against women increased from the previous year. The AIA and the AAW received approximately 40 cases of physical abuse against women. Women suffering from domestic violence requested help from the AIA and the AAW, but very rarely filed a complaint with the police for fear of reprisal. There is no specific legislation regarding violence against women, although other laws may be applied in such cases. Some complaints were reportedly filed with the police during the year, but no figures were available, as the police refused to make figures public.

The law prohibits rape and forcible sexual assault, which are punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.

The law prohibits discrimination against women privately or professionally; however, the AAW reported that, in practice, there were many cases of women dismissed from employment due to pregnancy. Women did not earn equal pay for equal work; observers such as the Andorran Chamber of Commerce, and NGOs such as the Andorran Women's Associations estimated that women earned 25 percent less than men for comparable work, although this gap continued to decrease slowly.

The AAW actively promoted women's issues and collaborated with the Department of Public Health and Social Welfare to help battered women, single parent families, and others in need. Despite demands from both the AAW and the AIA, the Government declined to create a department specifically for women's issues or create shelters for abused women.


The Government was committed to children's welfare and provided a universal system of health care and education. The Secretariat of State for the Family was responsible for promoting children's welfare. Free, universal public education began at age 4 and was compulsory until age 16. The Government provided free nursery schools, although their number continued to fall short of what was needed.

There were isolated reports of violence against children, but there was no societal pattern of abuse


Although the Constitution provides that legal foreign residents are to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as citizens, some immigrant workers believed that they did not have the same rights and security. Many immigrant workers held only "temporary work authorizations." When job contracts expired, they had to leave the country. The Government prohibited the issuance of work permits unless workers could demonstrate that they had a fixed address and at least minimally satisfactory living conditions.

The law does not prohibit trafficking in persons, although it does provide up to 3 years imprisonment for traffickers of illegal workers. There were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country.

Some immigrant workers complained that they did not have the same labor rights as citizens .The law gives legal status to the approximately 7,000 immigrants working in the country with no work permits or residence permits. This law also makes allowances for annual quotas of legal immigrants.


Internet research assisted by Josh Berke and Peggy Fisk

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