LIECHTENSTEIN: Children's Rights References in the Universal Periodic Review (Second Cycle)

Summary: A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the second Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholders' Information'. Also included is the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.

 Liechenstein - 2nd Cycle - 2012
Wednesday, 30 January, 9am - 12.30.

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National Report

UN Compilation

Stakeholder Report

Accepted and Rejected Recommendations

(Read about the first cycle review)


National Report

In regard to the ratification of international conventions, Liechtenstein has accepted three recommendations. It is the standard practice of the Liechtenstein Government to decide on accession to a convention only once the relevant legal and practical preconditions have been established domestically. This ensures that all provisions of the convention may actually be applied from the time of entry into force. In the case of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, implementation included the need for amendments to the criminal law relating to sexual offenses, which have meanwhile been undertaken. The proposal to Parliament is currently being prepared, with the goal of ratifying the Optional Protocol before the end of 2012 if possible. In connection with the planned ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the plan is to expressly include the relevant offenses relating to enforced disappearances in the Criminal Code, for which preparatory work is underway. Once this step is complete, ratification should be accomplished quickly. With regard to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, the Government has appointed an inter-office working group to assess the need for amendments in preparation for ratification. In light of the ongoing reform of the National Public Administration (see paragraph 13), the final report of the working group has been delayed. The plan is to continue preparations once the administrative reform is complete, with the goal of ratifying the Convention as soon as possible (Paragraph 8).

In 2009, Liechtenstein ratified both the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons. At the same time, the relevant reservations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees were withdrawn. Also in 2009, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption was ratified. On 8 May 2012, Liechtenstein became the first State to ratify the amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression. In recent years, Liechtenstein also signed the following conventions relevant to human rights: the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, the Convention on Cybercrime and its Additional Protocol concerning the criminalization of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (all 2008) as well as the Council of Europe Convention on the counterfeiting of medicinal products and similar crimes involving threats to public health.

The most important innovation at the institutional level in the last four years was the creation of an Ombuds Office for Children and Young People (OSKJ) in 2009. The OSKJ is an independent, neutral and generally accessible contact and complaints office for questions relating to children and young people. The OSKJ's mandate includes receiving questions, concerns and complaints and mediating in the event of difficulties and conflicts between private individuals and offices, authorities and all public organizations dealing with children's and youth issues. All matters are treated with the strictest confidence. A further task of the OSKJ is to monitor implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international protective regimes for children. The first Ombudsperson was elected by the Liechtenstein Parliament in October 2009 for a term of four years and began her work the beginning of 2010. Also in 2009, the Children and Youth Advisory Council was created as an additional institution at the national level to represent the interests of children and young people. The Advisory Council is composed of the organizations and groups working in the field of children and young people.

With respect to measures taken in the legal field, the amendment of inheritance law and the new provisions on sexual offenses in the Criminal Code are especially noteworthy. Inheritance law was fundamentally revised in 2012, in order to improve the legal standing of the surviving spouse or registered partner. For this purpose, especially the legal inheritance share of the surviving spouse or registered partner was increased. Before the reform, a legal inheritance share of one third of the estate went to the surviving spouse or registered partner – apart from the shares received by direct offspring. This in effect disadvantaged spouses who were not working. The new inheritance share is one half of the estate. This accordingly also increases the compulsory share, which is calculated on the basis of the legal inheritance share. The law governing the compulsory share now also includes an abuse clause, which ensures that the surviving spouse is not disadvantaged.

Recommendations no. 64/4, 65/24, 65/25: Establishment of an independent mechanism mandated to consider complaints of child rights violations; prohibition of all forms of corporal punishment of children; measures for the protection and well-being of children affected by parental detention or imprisonment.

On 1 February 2009, the new Children and Youth Act (KJG) entered into force in Liechtenstein. The Act was developed in a participatory process involving both children and young people as well as adults. Children's rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the principle of non-discrimination were expressly included in the Act. Other innovative elements include the establishment of two new independent institutions, namely the Ombuds Office for Children and Young People (OSKJ) and the Children and Youth Advisory Council (see also paragraph 12), as well as the associated enshrinement of participation of children and young people in the matters that concern them at the national and municipal level. The participation of children and young people was additionally also included in the School Act (as revised in 2011). (Paragraph 24).

Additional important elements included in the new KJG are the new rules governing the right and duty to report endangerments of the welfare of children, support when children and young people break the law, new rules governing adoptions, strengthening of the legal standing of children in judicial placement proceedings, and strengthening of the protection of children and young people (including new rules on the advertising and sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products). (Paragraph 25).

Additionally, the right to a violence-free upbringing was included in the new KJG, supplementing the existing provisions in the General Civil Code. The KJG provides that all forms of corporal punishment as well as emotional injuries and other degrading measures are impermissible. This prohibition refers not only to parents, but to all persons involved in education and upbringing. (Paragraph 26).

An important expansion of the protection of children from sexual abuse and other forms of sexual violence was realized with the revision of the law governing sexual criminal offenses in 2010 (entry into force on 16 March 2011 and in part on 1 June 2011). The amendments expand the material-legal protection of victims. New criminal offenses were introduced, including the initiating of sexual contacts with children using information and communication technologies (grooming). Moreover, a comprehensive criminalization of conduct relating to child pornography and child prostitution was included. Extraterritorial jurisdiction was introduced for several sexual offenses against children and young people. The statute of limitations for criminal acts against sexual autonomy and other sexual offenses was extended by not counting the time before the victim reaches the age of majority. To take account of the preventive aspect as well, the new provisions provide for more intensive monitoring of convicted sex offenders, including the possibility of supervised probation, issuing of instructions upon conditional release, and prohibition of certain types of work. (Paragraph 27).

28. Child rights policy is also family policy: Like other European countries, Liechtenstein is facing major family policy challenges. Social transformations have fundamentally changed family structures and the needs of parents and children. Based on these insights, the Government presented the "Framework for the Liechtenstein Family" in 2011, which provides a framework for a family, child and youth policy that is as true to life as possible. The framework of the family is further specified by a catalogue of measures. According to the most recent catalogue of measures for 2012 and 2013, the Government is focusing on the four areas of compatibility of family and work, debt prevention among young people, open youth work, and parental education. The ultimate goal is to provide good conditions for the various forms of life and family and, for this purpose, to bring together and coordinate the actors concerned in all areas.

29. In the first UPR, Liechtenstein received the recommendation that special measures should be taken to protect children whose parents have been detained or imprisoned, taking into account the physical, social and psychological development of the children. Such measures already exist in Liechtenstein: If a parent is detained or imprisoned, an interdisciplinary team consisting of child psychologists, social workers, and educators working for the Office of Social Affairs evaluates the family situation. The team determines whether the child can remain in the close family (with the other parent) or the extended family despite the imprisonment of a parent, and whether specific measures and/or support for the child by the Office of Social Affairs is necessary.

30. In 2011, the two new independent institutions created by the Children and Youth Act, namely the OSKJ and the Children and Youth Advisory Council, conducted a survey of 1,100 children and young people – which corresponds to about 20% of the children in this age group in Liechtenstein. The children were asked about their life situation, their desires, and their problems. The result is a report reflecting the perspective of children and young people, and it was presented to the Liechtenstein public and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.1 The study shows that children and young people in Liechtenstein consider their circumstances of life to be satisfactory, and that they are aware of the advantages of the country's small size and material prosperity. The report also identified various areas with further potential for improvement, such as regarding participation and parental custody (demand for prior mediation supported by the State in the event of separation and divorce). The work toward a system of joint custody by both parents is already underway in the responsible ministry.

Minority groups: 44. The school system plays another important role in the integration of the foreign population and the promotion of tolerance and understanding between the domestic and foreign population. Numerous measures have been taken in this regard, as discussed in Chapter I (Right to education).

Racial discrimination: 50. Schools play an important role in the prevention of racism. At the level of instruction, special importance is attached to historic and political education. Education about National Socialism is a mandatory priority topic in the curriculum for the secondary level. Suitable teaching materials are made available, and the development of textbooks relevant to Liechtenstein is actively promoted. Additionally, campaigns and projects are offered at schools allowing pupils to critically confront racism and right-wing extremism. The annual Holocaust Memorial Day is of special note in this regard. Alongside the continuing training courses for teachers mentioned above, measures for dealing with extremist tendencies include low-threshold counseling for pupils (e.g. schoolmate/teacher serving as a confidant) and school social work.

Religious tolerance: 65. Special attention is paid in schools to promoting tolerance of religions and worldviews. Tolerance education is especially important in the subjects "Social Education" and "Religion and Culture". The latter is conceived so that pupils of all religions and religious communities can participate. It is interdenominational and covers all major world religions.

75. Liechtenstein has a smoothly functioning education system that allows people to engage in lifelong learning and gives everyone in the country the best educational opportunities. There are nine years of compulsory education. Schooling is available free of charge to all children and young people regardless of their origin, religious affiliation, gender or any disability. Also free of charge is attendance of kindergarten before compulsory education begins. Individual promotion and equal opportunity are the overarching goals of the Liechtenstein education system.

76. Tolerance is a central and binding principle for instruction at all school levels. The curriculum of the compulsory schools defines as an overarching goal that pupils must be given the tools to grasp the diversity of human beings and respect otherness. As part of human rights and democracy education, pupils learn to understand the key principles and orient their conduct accordingly. The schools implement the curricular goals seriously in this regard as well as those promoting intercultural competences and ethnic and religious tolerance, for instance in the numerous thematic project weeks and elective subjects offered.

77. Girls generally exhibit higher academic achievement than boys. It continues to be the case that children with a migration background are overrepresented in the type of school with lower academic demands. However, migration background is only one factor among many that influence the scholastic success of a child. National tests showed also for Liechtenstein that especially socio-economic status and the education background of parents have a substantial impact on educational success.

78. An important innovation in this context are the new Education Statistics to be regularly compiled and published starting in 2012. The statistics will improve the determination of typical educational careers and the influence of migration and social background.

79. Numerous support measures exist to ensure that all children have the same opportunities. Foreign-language children are offered intensive language instruction in the special subject "German as a second language", which aims to give them the ability to follow instruction in ordinary classes or kindergarten with as few language difficulties as possible. In addition, there is a wide range of offerings in special education, social-pedagogical and school-supporting measures. For disabled children and young people and for those with learning difficulties who, despite the integration measures, are unable to following ordinary instruction, a school for special education exists in Liechtenstein that is also available to children and young people from the neighboring countries.

80. In light of the increasingly prevalent insight that measures must be applied as early as possible so that differences in achievement can be compensated, the Government is increasingly implementing projects for early childhood education and parental education. Different pilot projects at the municipal level are in the implementation phase.

81. Also at the secondary level, various reform projects are underway with the goal of ensuring more individualized promotion of young people and improvement of educational opportunities for everyone. Also in this connection, the Government adopted an overall concept for support measures in the educational field in summer 2012.

After completing their compulsory schooling, young people have the option of enrolling either in vocational and professional education and training or in a baccalaureate school, which prepares them for tertiary education. Vocational and professional education and training combines practical work in training companies with education in vocational schools and specialized courses, and it can be completed in combination with a vocational baccalaureate. After completion of compulsory education, the Office of Vocational Training and Career Guidance helps young people identify their path for continuing studies. Young people who have not decided on a path two months before leaving school are assisted by employees of the Office. The same Office also conducts an annual mentoring program for interested young people in the last semester of compulsory education. A very low rate (less than 5%) of young people without a solution for continuing their studies is the gratifying result of these measures. The dual-track vocational education and training program (apprenticeships) is also an important factor for the success of the Liechtenstein economy and one of the reasons for the low rate of youth unemployment (see Chapter IV, G).

Every person living in Liechtenstein has compulsory health insurance and accordingly enjoys access to medical care. Compulsory health insurance is paid through a per capita premium, half of which is covered by employers in the case of employees. Low-income persons benefit from a reduced premium, young people up to the age of 16 pay no premiums, and persons under the age of 20 do not have to participate in health care expenses. To keep premiums for all insured persons low, the State additionally pays an annually determined contribution toward the costs of compulsory health insurance. Public health care is ensured both by the high density of physicians and by the Liechtenstein hospital. Contracts with hospitals and psychiatric facilities in foreign countries also exist. The high standard of health care is seen in indicators such as the high life expectancy and the low infant and maternal mortality.

Health: 86. In accordance with the Health Act, the State takes measures to promote public health and prevent disease. Several governmental offices, specialist offices and private service providers are entrusted with this mandate. Every person living in Liechtenstein is invited by the Office of Public Health for periodic medical check-ups, which are free of charge. Special attention is paid to children; they are invited for periodic medical check-ups nine times during their childhood. To draw the attention also of the foreign population to the importance and benefits of the check-ups for children, the invitation to these check-ups is translated into Turkish, Serbian/Croatian, and Albanian.

Substance abuse: 88. The addiction prevention campaign "YOU say how!" addressed to young people between 2006 and 2009 aimed to reduce the consumption of legal substances, i.e. alcohol, nicotine, and benzodiazepine. The campaign was evaluated in 2012 with a study surveying the consumption of addictive drugs by 15-16-year-olds. The study showed that regular consumption of both alcohol and cigarettes has fallen substantially. Only the development of the consumption of illegal drugs, which was not addressed by the campaign, is less positive. While cannabis consumption has been nearly halved since 2005, the consumption of other illegal drugs has nearly doubled for all substances. Specific measures for risk groups are under development.

UN Compilation

9. The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) recommended that Liechtenstein revise relevant legislation, and include provisions which explicitly criminalize violations of the provisions of the Optional Protocol regarding the recruitment and involvement of children in hostilities; and include a definition of direct participation in hostilities.i

CRC recommended that Liechtenstein ensure that domestic legislation enables it to establish and exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction over war crimes of conscription and enlistment of children in hostilities. It furthermore recommended that Liechtenstein strengthen measures to establish extraterritorial jurisdiction over crimes under the Optional Protocol without the criterion of double criminality.ii

14. CRC noted with appreciation the appointment in October 2009 of the first Ombudsperson for children, and recommended that Liechtenstein ensure that it is independent, in accordance with the Paris Principles, and vested with a mandate to monitor the implementation of the Convention and the Optional Protocol, as well as with adequate resources.23

28. CAT noted the limited holding capacity and the shortage of space and personnel resources of Vaduz National Prison. It was concerned that the space restrictions and personnel limitations, had resulted, on occasions, in the removal of prisoners from the prison by police for interrogation without the presence of a corrections officer; that the national prison held different categories of detainees, including convicted prisoners, prisoners on remand, detainees awaiting deportation and juveniles; and that separation between pretrial prisoners, persons detained for expulsion and convicted prisoners was not always possible.45

29. CAT noted with concern that, during the last quarter of 2009, juveniles, including one female person, were held in Vaduz National Prison, contrary to the principle of separation between adults and juveniles.46

37. CAT took note of the bilateral treaty of 1982 on the accommodation of prisoners, according to which sentences longer than two years of imprisonment were executed in a neighbouring country. It further noted that the treaty also applied to “persons who have committed a criminal offence under the influence of a mental disorder” against whom orders of preventive measures were issued and, where necessary, persons under the age of 18 years. It was concerned that the 1982 bilateral treaty did not contain any express safeguards for the prevention of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and recommended that Liechtenstein renegotiate the 1982 Treaty. 56 In its comments to CAT’s observations, Liechtenstein emphasized that this bilateral cooperation was firmly anchored in an extensive legal and structural framework composed of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the European Convention on the Prevention of Torture as well as CAT.57

38. While appreciating the reduction of the maximum length of pretrial detention for children under the age of 18, CAT was concerned that it remained high (one year). It was furthermore concerned that some juveniles sentenced to  imprisonment served their sentences in a neighbouring country, according to the 1982 bilateral treaty, which did not contain any safeguards for special protection for persons under the age of 18 years.58

39. CAT noted with concern that Liechtenstein did not intend to amend the Juvenile Court Act, according to which a person of trust would be present during the questioning of a juvenile by the police (or a judge) only if the juvenile so requested. Liechtenstein was urged to amend article 21 of the Juvenile Court Act to ensure the presence of a person of trust during interrogation or questioning by police of children under the age of 18 without any request of the juvenile.59

45. CEDAW noted the slow progress for decriminalizing abortion; that contraceptives were not distributed free of charge; and that women from disadvantaged groups, including women with disabilities and migrant women, encountered difficulties in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and information. It called on Liechtenstein to review legislation relating to abortion, with a view to removing punitive provisions for women who undergo abortion; and ensure that all women and girls, including adolescents, women with disabilities and migrant women, have free and adequate access to contraceptives and sexual and reproductive health services and information in accessible formats.65

CEDAW noted with concern that women and girls chose traditionally female-dominated fields of education and vocational training, and that Liechtenstein’s ongoing efforts to address stereotyped educational choices might reproduce women’s and men’s traditional educational and professional choices.66 (Paragraph 46).

CAT noted with concern that the period of administrative detention to prepare or ensure deportation might be extended up to nine months and, in the case of minors between 15 and 18, up to six months. It recommended that Liechtenstein consider reducing the permissible length of administrative detention in preparation for deportation, in particular for children under the age of 18 years and do so in the framework of the revision of the Asylum Act and the Foreigners Act.71 (Paragraph 50).

CEDAW noted that Liechtenstein’s efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in women and girls had so far focused on night club dancers, without taking into account the specific vulnerability of asylum-seeking women and girls. It was concerned about reports that in some cases, asylum seekers, including women, were pressured by the authorities to leave Liechtenstein, thereby increasing their risk of becoming victims of trafficking. It recommended that Liechtenstein recognize as refugees and grant asylum to women and girls who have been trafficked or fear being trafficked and whose claims to international protection fall within the refugee definition of the 1951 Convention.74 (Paragraph 53).

CRC welcomed Liechtenstein’s measures to provide protection, rehabilitation and other assistance for children affected by armed conflicts in their countries of origin. It noted, however, that not all assessment interviews were conducted in the presence of an NGO, as provided for in the asylum procedure. It was concerned at the lack of an identification mechanism of these children and regretted that specific recovery and reintegration programmes and services would not be available for them.78 (Paragraph 57).

Stakeholder Compilation

In 2012, Amnesty International (AI) noted that Liechtenstein established an Ombudsman for Children in February 2009, after it supported the UPR recommendation to consider establishing an independent mechanism to consider complaints of child rights violations.iii CoE-Commissioner also stated that a part-time Ombudsman for Children and Young People has already been in place for two years and that, pending the reform of the overall human rights system, this office should be properly resourced so as to be able to fulfil its important functions for children’s rights protection. (Paragraph 5).

The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) confirmed that the Children and Youth Act (2008), which came into force in January 2009, explicitly prohibited all corporal punishment of children, including by parents in the home. The Act complied with the state’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights instruments. GIEACPC, however, indicated that there was no information regarding efforts to ensure implementation of the law and recommended that Liechtenstein undertake measures to implement the law and eliminate corporal punishment in practice.

CoE-ACFC and CoE-CM stated that further efforts are needed to ensure equal opportunities in access to quality education for children belonging to all groups.

Accepted and Rejected Recommendations - To follow


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