* Adopted by the Committee at its seventieth session (2–20 July 2018).
Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Liechtenstein *
1.The Committee considered the fifth periodic report of Liechtenstein (CEDAW/C/LIE/5) at its 1606th and 1607th meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1606 and CEDAW/C/SR.1607), held on 5 July 2018.
2.The Committee appreciates the submission by the State party of its fifth periodic report, which was prepared in response to the list of issues and questions prior to reporting (CEDAW/C/LIE/QPR/5). It also appreciates the State party’s follow-up report to the previous periodic report (CEDAW/C/LIE/CO/4/Add.1). It welcomes the oral presentation by the delegation and the further clarifications provided in response to the questions posed orally by the Committee during the dialogue.
3.The Committee commends the State party on its delegation, which was headed by the Ambassador and Director of the Office for Foreign Affairs of the Principality of Liechtenstein, Martin Frick, and included representatives of the Migration and Passport Office, the Office of Education, the national police, the Office of Social Services, the Office for Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva.
4.The Committee welcomes the progress achieved since the consideration in 2011 of the State party’s fourth periodic report (CEDAW/C/LIE/4) in undertaking legislative reforms, in particular the adoption of the following:
(a)Act No. 504 of 2016, which established the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein, forming the legal basis for the State party’s national human rights institution;
(b)Article 283 of the Criminal Code, introducing gender as prohibited grounds for discrimination, in 2016;
(c)New law on parents and children, making joint custody the general rule following separation or divorce, provided that it is in the best interest of the child, in 2015;
(d)Amendments to the Asylum Act, incorporating gender-specific grounds for asylum, in 2012;
(e)Amendments to inheritance law, increasing the legal inheritance share of the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner from one third of the estate to one half, in 2012;
(f)Amendments to the law governing sexual offences, introducing ex officio prosecution in cases of dangerous threats against close family members, stalking, rape or sexual assault in marriages and domestic partnerships, and forced marriages, in 2011;
(g)Amendments to the Criminal Code, prohibiting female genital mutilation, in 2011.
5.The Committee welcomes the State party’s efforts to improve its institutional and policy framework aimed at accelerating the elimination of discrimination against women and promoting gender equality, such as the adoption of the following:
(a)National implementation strategy for the Sustainable Development Goals, in 2018;
(b)Revised guidelines on efforts to combat trafficking in persons, in 2017;
(c)Government programme for the period 2017–2021, which contains objectives to remedy gender stereotypes and to promote de facto equality between women and men.
6.The Committee welcomes the fact that, in the period since the consideration of the previous report, the State party has ratified or acceded to the following international and regional instruments:
(a)Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, in 2013, and Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure, in 2017;
(b)Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, in 2016;
(c)Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, in 2016.
Sustainable Development Goals
7.The Committee welcomes the international support for the Sustainable Development Goals and calls for the realization of de jure and de facto (substantive) gender equality, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention throughout the process of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Committee recalls the importance of Goal 5 and of the mainstreaming of the principles of equality and non-discrimination throughout all 17 Goals. It urges the State party to recognize women as the driving force of the sustainable development of the country and to adopt relevant policies and strategies to that effect.
8. The Committee stresses the crucial role of the legislative power in ensuring the full implementation of the Convention (see the statement by the Committee on its relationship with parliamentarians, adopted at the forty-fifth session, in 2010). It invites the Landtag, in line with its mandate, to take the necessary steps regarding the implementation of the present concluding observations between now and the submission of the next periodic report.
D.Principal areas of concern and recommendations
9.While respecting the legal sovereignty of the State party to freely decide who should be its Head of State, the Committee is concerned that the persistent exclusion of women from succession to the throne affects the implementation of the Convention as a whole in the State party.
10. Reiterating its previous concern ( CEDAW/C/LIE/CO/4 , para. 13), the Committee reminds the State party that it considers the reservation to article 1 of the Convention to be in contravention of the Convention and calls upon the State party to review its reservation, with a view to its withdrawal.
Visibility of the Convention, Optional Protocol and the Committee’s general recommendations
11.The Committee notes with concern that, although international treaties ratified or acceded to by the State party take primacy over national laws, the Convention was never invoked or referred to in court proceedings during the reporting period. It is concerned that this may point towards insufficient knowledge about the Convention among the judiciary and the legal profession, as well as among women themselves, in particular minority, migrant and refugee women.
12. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that the Convention is sufficiently known and applied in respect of all laws, court decisions and policies on gender equality and the advancement of women, including through the wide dissemination of the Convention and the Optional Protocol to the general public, the judiciary, law enforcement officials and members of the legal profession. In this regard, it also recommends that the State party take specific and targeted measures, in cooperation with civil society, to ensure the full application of the Convention, the Optional Protocol and the general recommendations.
Access to justice
13.While the Committee takes note of the delegation’s assurances that women’s access to justice is fully guaranteed and that no gender-specific restrictions exist under the law, it is concerned about reports that such access is restricted in practice, in particular for women with disabilities and women with insufficient knowledge of German, such as refugee, asylum-seeking and migrant women. It notes with concern the low number of applications and claims lodged under the Gender Equality Act with the Court of Justice during the reporting period.
14. The Committee recommends that the State party, in line with its general recommendation No. 33 (2015) on women’s access to justice:
(a) Raise awareness among the general public of the legislation prohibiting discrimination against women and of the remedies available to victims, and provide capacity-building for the judiciary and training for the police regarding the strict application of the legislation;
(b) Strengthen measures to raise awareness among women and girls of their rights and of available remedies and services.
National machinery for the advancement of women
15.The Committee is concerned about the lack of a comprehensive national gender equality policy, strategy or action plan to systematically address the structural causes of persistent gender inequalities. The Committee notes with concern the restructuring of responsibilities in relation to gender equality in the public administration, including the transfer of the Equal Opportunities Unit from an independent government unit to a unit under the Office of Social Services and the integration of the Gender Equality Commission and the Ombuds Office for Children and Young People into the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein, which has resulted in a more limited gender equality mandate, less accountability and reduced visibility of the new structure. The Committee is also concerned about the information provided by the delegation to the effect that, owing to limited financial resources, the State party does not have the capacity to further enhance the national machinery for the advancement of women.
16. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt an integrated policy and strategy on gender equality and its mainstreaming, including through the use of gender budgeting processes, with effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms across all sectors and levels of government;
(b) Strengthen the Equal Opportunities Unit and ensure that it is provided with the authority, visibility and human and financial resources necessary to effectively advance women’s rights, regularly assess progress in the implementation of gender equality policies, plans and programmes, and evaluate the impact of those efforts;
(c) Ensure that sufficient financial resources are allocated for the effective functioning of the national machinery for the advancement of women and for the implementation of the Convention as a whole in the State party.
National human rights institution
17.The Committee welcomes the adoption of the law establishing the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein in 2016 and the subsequent establishment of the Association, which aspires to be the State party’s national human rights institution. The Committee is concerned, however, that the Association has not applied for accreditation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions and that it does not have the right to lodge complaints in its own name. The Committee is also concerned that the allocated human and financial resources are guaranteed for only three years, after which the Association may be forced to find its own funding.
18. The Committee recommends that the State party encourage the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein to apply for A status accreditation with the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, empower it to lodge complaints in its own name, and allocate adequate and sustainable human, technical and financial resources to the Association to allow it to effectively carry out its mandate, in particular with regard to women’s rights and gender equality, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (the Paris Principles). The Committee reminds the State party that in order to ensure the independence of the national human rights institution, the State party should ensure that sufficient funding is allocated to enable the institution to carry out its mandate, irrespective of other sources of funding.
Temporary special measures
19.While the Committee welcomes government initiatives to strengthen equal opportunities, such as the women’s politics course, discussions with parliamentarians and the exhibition on the topic of role models, it remains concerned about the limited understanding that the State party has demonstrated with regard to temporary special measures within the meaning of article 4 (1) of the Convention. Moreover, the Committee regrets that most of the measures were implemented without a view to their long-term sustainability. The Committee reminds the State party that, even if its system of direct democracy allows individuals to request a public vote to amend national legislation so that, for example, minimum quotas for the representation of women in political and public life could be introduced, that does not absolve the State party of its international obligation to adopt targeted measures, including temporary special measures in line with general recommendation No. 25 (2004) on temporary special measures, to accelerate the achievement of substantive equality between women and men in all areas covered by the Convention.
20. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Set time-bound targets and allocate sufficient resources for the implementation of temporary special measures with specific incentives, with a view to achieving substantive equality between women and men in all areas under the Convention in which women are underrepresented or disadvantaged, such as political and public life, education and employment, bearing in mind that the term “measures” encompasses a wide variety of legislative, executive, administrative and other regulatory instruments, policies and practices, such as outreach or support programmes, allocation and/or reallocation of resources, preferential treatment, targeted recruitment, hiring and promotion, time-bound numerical goals and quota systems;
(b) Continuously raise awareness among politicians, the media and the general public of the necessity of special measures, whether temporary or permanent, in order to achieve substantive equality between women and men in all areas covered by the Convention.
21.The Committee welcomes the numerous initiatives taken by the State party, such as the celebration of a “national future day” and the project on the subject of role models, to eliminate discriminatory stereotypical attitudes. It also notes the inclusion of gender issues in curricula, which helps to raise the awareness of teachers about the use of gender-inclusive language and teaching materials. The Committee notes with concern, however, that discriminatory stereotypes with regard to the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society persist in the State party and that women and girls continue to choose traditional educational and professional fields. In addition, the Committee regrets the persistence of prejudice and of hate speech against women facing intersecting forms of discrimination, notwithstanding measures taken by the State party.
22.The State party should intensify its efforts to eliminate discriminatory stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society. In that regard, the Committee recalls its previous recommendation ( CEDAW/C/LIE/CO/4 , para. 19 (a) and (b)) that the State party further strengthen its efforts to put in place a comprehensive policy with proactive and sustained measures, targeted at women, men, girls and boys, to overcome stereotypical attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and in society, in particular in areas where women are in the most disadvantaged position. The Committee also recommends that the State party take more efficient measures against hate speech, with a special focus on women facing intersecting forms of discrimination.
Gender-based violence against women
23.The Committee notes with appreciation the 2011 amendments to the Criminal Code, in particular the law governing sexual offences, and the signing of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) in 2016. However, it notes with concern:
(a)The absence of a law on gender-based violence against women in the State party;
(b)Reports that the amendments to the Criminal Code have not been sufficiently implemented owing to, among other things, the excessively high standard of proof required by the judiciary;
(c)The lack of systematic data collection on gender-based violence against women;
(d)The decrease in the number of expulsion orders and prohibition-of-entry orders issued during the reporting period and the absence of a corresponding decrease in cases of gender-based violence against women;
(e)The practice of resorting to police counselling or mediation in cases of gender-based violence against women;
(f)The absence of specialized training for the judiciary and the police on gender-based violence against women.
24. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt a comprehensive law on gender-based violence against women, in line with general recommendation No. 35 (2017) on gender-based violence against women, updating general recommendation No. 19, and speedily ratify the Istanbul Convention;
(b) Ensure the effective implementation of the current legislation against gender-based violence and review the standard of proof required by judges, with a view to revising any excessive thresholds by adopting a more victim-friendly approach;
(c) Systematically collect data on gender-based violence, disaggregated by sex, age and relationship between the victim and perpetrator, in line with general recommendation No. 35;
(d) Conduct a study of the reasons for the decline in the number of expulsion and prohibition-of-entry orders issued during the reporting period;
(e) Prohibit mediation or counselling by the police in cases involving gender-based violence against women, in line with general recommendation No. 35 and the Istanbul Convention;
(f) Provide specialized capacity-building to the judiciary, the police and other law enforcement officers on gender-based violence against women in the light of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and as laid out in general recommendation No. 35 and in the Istanbul Convention.
Trafficking in women and girls and exploitation of prostitution
25.The Committee welcomes the revision of the Foreigners Act to provide for aggravating circumstances in cases of trafficking in persons, including women and girls, resulting in heavier sentences for perpetrators. It also welcomes strengthened regional cooperation in the prosecution of traffickers and cybercriminals. The Committee further welcomes the establishment of a financial sector commission to detect illicit financial flows linked to trafficking in persons and contemporary forms of slavery. It remains concerned, however, about the limited awareness-raising activities in the State party related to trafficking in women and girls and the exploitation of prostitution.
26. The Committee recommends that the State party continue its efforts to combat trafficking in women and girls through increased regional cooperation, including the harmonization of prison sentences. It also recommends that the State party pursue international, regional and bilateral cooperation with countries of origin, transit and destination, including through the exchange of information and the harmonization of procedures, in order to prevent trafficking and bring perpetrators to justice. The Committee further recommends that the State party intensify information campaigns on the criminal nature of trafficking and other awareness-raising activities and that it expand its attention to vulnerable groups constituting potential victims of trafficking in persons, such as asylum seekers and children.
27.The Committee is concerned about reports regarding the low number of criminal investigations and the absence of prosecutions in cases of exploitation of women in prostitution during the reporting period. It notes with concern that the law on prostitution criminalizes women in prostitution, which may prevent them from reporting on exploitation and abuse by pimps and clients.
28. The Committee recommends that the State party increase efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute cases of exploitation of women in prostitution and that it decriminalize women in prostitution in all settings and provide them with support and exit programmes.
Participation in political and public life
29.The Committee welcomes the information provided by the State party to the effect that the number of women occupying decision-making positions in the public administration doubled during the reporting period and that gender parity had been achieved in the Government and in the foreign service. However, it remains concerned that the number of women parliamentarians decreased considerably following the most recent legislative elections and that the level of representation of women at the municipal level is low. The Committee is also concerned that the measures proposed to increase the political representation of women are of a voluntary nature and depend on the willingness of political parties to assume their responsibilities. The Committee welcomes the commitment of political parties to ensuring gender parity in their electoral lists.
30. The Committee recommends that the State party revisit its policies, that it engage in a dialogue with all political parties and civil society and that it:
(a) Continue to assess the underlying causes of the underrepresentation of women in parliament, including in decision-making positions, and take appropriate measures, including such temporary special measures as creating financial incentives for political parties to give priority to women who stand for election and extending such measures to local elections in 2019, with a view to ensuring the equal representation of women on electoral lists at both the municipal and parliamentary levels;
(b) Develop a comprehensive human resources strategy for the civil service in order to prepare and train women, develop indicators to foster leadership by women and increase their representation in decision-making positions in political life;
(c) Ensure equal representation of women and men in appointments to boards of directors, foundation boards, commissions (including at the municipal level) and working groups;
(d) Collect disaggregated data on the representation of women in all fields of political and public life.
31.The Committee notes with appreciation the achievements of the State party in the field of education and the implementation of several laudable projects in that respect, such as the “pepperMINT” experimentation laboratory. It notes with concern, however, the failure to integrate a gender perspective into the field of education in general. The Committee is also concerned about the following:
(a)The absence of mandatory legal provisions specifically addressing equal representation of women and men among university students (one third of students are women) and staff, as well as the equal representation of migrants and other vulnerable populations;
(b)The gender neutrality of efforts to optimize the transition from compulsory to higher education and the lack of information on their impact;
(c)The absence of a mechanism for students, including women and girls, to report bullying or sexual harassment.
32. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt mandatory legal provisions that specifically prohibit discrimination against women, girls and other vulnerable populations in education;
(b) Take measures to increase the number of women among students and teaching staff, as well as among migrants and other vulnerable populations, at the University of Liechtenstein;
(c) Step up its efforts, in collaboration with neighbouring countries, to collect sex disaggregated data on the educational choices of students from Liechtenstein who study abroad;
(d) Implement gender-sensitive measures to orient girls and boys towards non-traditional career choices, strengthen vocational, professional or entrepreneurial training for women and girls and provide gender-sensitive teacher training, remedial classes, scholarships and other incentives aimed at bridging the educational gap between girls and boys;
(e) Institute a mechanism for students, including women and girls, to report bullying and sexual harassment.
33.The Committee notes the positive measures taken by the State party to close the gender wage gap. However, it notes with concern:
(a)The State party’s decision not to become a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO) or to ratify the Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100), the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111) or the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156), which could impede the full achievement of the right of women to equal conditions of work;
(b)The slow rate at which the gender pay gap decreased during the reporting period and the ineffectiveness of the measures taken to close the gap;
(c)The vertical and horizontal segregation in the labour market and the concentration of women in low-paid jobs;
(d)The overrepresentation of women in part-time work owing to their disproportionate share of the burden with regard to child-rearing and care responsibilities.
34. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Become a member of ILO and ratify ILO Conventions Nos. 100, 111 and 156 and ensure that its labour laws are in conformity with them;
(b) Work to close the gender pay gap, including through gender-neutral analytical job classification and evaluation methods and regular pay surveys;
(c) Address occupational segregation, including by adopting measures to eliminate discrimination against women in recruitment and promotion;
(d) Promote equal sharing of family and care responsibilities between women and men by introducing flexible working arrangements, increasing the number of childcare facilities and introducing innovative measures to increase social acceptance of men taking care of their children and of women choosing to return to work following childbirth;
(e) Guarantee a minimum of 26 weeks of paid maternity leave and an additional minimum of four weeks of paid leave to be taken by the supporting parent;
(f) Adopt professional guidelines for tracking gender equality performance in key sectors, with indicators to monitor their implementation.
35.The Committee welcomes the State party’s revision of the Criminal Code pertaining to the decriminalization of abortion. It remains concerned, however, about the restrictive circumstances in which abortion is legal under the law of the State party, in particular with regard to the criminalization of abortion in cases of fetal impairment. The Committee is also concerned about the persistence of early pregnancies and the limited access to information on contraceptives available in the State party. The Committee is further concerned about medically irreversible sex-reassignment surgery being performed on intersex persons from Liechtenstein in neighbouring countries at the State party’s request, and about the growing trend of young women developing an addiction to alcohol, tobacco and/or cannabis.
36. The State party should:
(a) Harmonize articles 96 to 98 (a) of the Criminal Code with a view to legalizing abortion both for the pregnant woman who undergoes the procedure and the health-care providers who perform it, including in the case of rape, incest, risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman, or severe impairment of the fetus, and decriminalizing it in all other cases;
(b) Step up efforts to prevent early pregnancies and ensure that access to information on contraceptives is readily available to young women and girls;
(c) Specifically prohibit non-consensual sex-reassignment surgery on intersex persons and develop and implement a rights-based health-care protocol for intersex children that requires their informed consent about the performance of medically irreversible sex-reassignment surgery;
(d) Collect data and provide information on the use of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis among women and girls in the State party in its next periodic report.
Economic empowerment of women and social benefits
37.The Committee welcomes the introduction of flexible working arrangements and special day-care facilities for employees in the private sector. It is concerned, however, that few such measures have been introduced in the public sector. The Committee notes that older women constitute more than 90 per cent of participants in the “Coming back” programme, which is aimed at reintegrating persons into the workforce. The Committee is also concerned about the lack of a strategic approach to enhance favourable conditions for entrepreneurship among women in the State party and about insufficient funding opportunities for enterprises led by women.
38. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure that flexible working arrangements, part-time work, telecommuting and other measures are available to women and men working in all sectors, in order to reduce segregation with regard to work and benefits;
(b) Conduct a study in order to evaluate the impact of the part-time work of women on their access to social benefits, in particular pensions;
(c) Provide economic packages and incentives to expand economic opportunities for women and promote women-led businesses, including through closer regulation of the private sector and through the introduction of business facilitation grants, incubation schemes, financial inclusion services, stimulus packages and other entrepreneurship initiatives aimed at expanding economic opportunities for women and girls.
Disadvantaged groups of women
39.The Committee is concerned about reports of discrimination against disadvantaged or marginalized groups of women facing intersecting forms of discrimination, such as migrant women and women with disabilities. It notes with concern the lack of disaggregated data on the situation of these groups of women in all spheres of life.
40. The Committee recommends that the State party collect data on women facing intersecting forms of discrimination and that, in its next periodic report, it provide information on the situation of migrant women and women with disabilities in all spheres of political, public and economic life. The Committee reiterates the recommendation in paragraph 34 (a) of the present concluding observations that the State party reconsider its decision not to become a member of ILO or to ratify the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) or that it at least ensure that its labour standards meet the minimum requirements therein.
Marriage and family relations
41.The Committee welcomes the inheritance law reform carried out in 2012. It notes with concern, however, that despite its previous recommendation (CEDAW/C/LIE/CO/4 para. 43 (a)), no study has been undertaken on the economic consequences of divorce on both spouses. The Committee welcomes the revision of the custody law in 2015, placing the best interest of the child before all other considerations. It remains concerned, however, about reports that finding a balanced custody arrangement is sometimes given priority over the best interests of the child and that this practice may ignore the issue of domestic violence. The Committee welcomes the reform of the law governing the names of registered partners, but regrets the absence of an assessment of the 2011 law recognizing same-sex partnerships and its effectiveness in achieving the equal treatment in practice of registered partnerships and traditional marriages.
42. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Conduct a study on the economic consequences of divorce on both spouses, in accordance with general recommendation No. 29 (2013) on the economic consequences of marriage, family relations and their dissolution;
(b) Analyse the effects of the law recognizing same-sex partnership to determine whether equality of treatment between registered partnerships and marriage has been achieved in practice;
(c) Ensure that domestic violence is taken into account by the courts and authorities of the State party whenever decisions are taken on child custody.
Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action
43. The Committee calls upon the State party to use the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in its efforts to implement the provisions of the Convention.
44. The Committee requests the State party to ensure the timely dissemination of the present concluding observations, in the official language of the State party, to the relevant State institutions at all levels (national, regional and local), in particular to the Government, the ministries, the parliament and the judiciary, to enable their full implementation.
Ratification of other treaties
45. The Committee notes that the adherence of the State party to the nine major international human rights instruments would enhance the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms in all aspects of life. The Committee therefore encourages the State party to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which it is not yet a party.
Follow-up to the concluding observations
46. The Committee requests the State party to provide, within two years, written information on the steps taken to implement the recommendations contained in paragraphs 16 (a), 24 (a) and 36 (a) above.
Preparation of the next report
47. The Committee requests the State party to submit its sixth periodic report in July 2022. The report should be submitted on time and cover the entire period up to the time of its submission.
48. The Committee requests the State party to follow the harmonized guidelines on reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines on a common core document and treaty-specific documents (see HRI/GEN/2/Rev.6 , chap. I).