Liechtenstein

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Persistent violations


Footnotes



Introduction

Geography

Liechtenstein is a doubly-landlocked country in central Europe, located on the mountainous border between Austria and Switzerland. The capital city is Vaduz.

Population and language

Around 37,000 people live in the country,[1] a third of whom were born outside of Liechtenstein. The country is largely German speaking and Roman Catholicism is the state religion.[2]

History and politics

Liechtenstein formed as an independent principality within the Holy Roman Empire at the beginning of the 18th century and became fully independent state in 1806. The monarchy still retains an active part in national politics and in 2003 the hereditary monarch, Prince Hans-Adam II, was granted significantly greater powers following a referendum. Crown Prince Alois has since assumed the day to day powers of the monarchy, and has the power to appoint the Prime Minister, veto legislation and dismiss Parliament.

There is a national legislature elected by universal suffrage, in which the Patriotic Union (Vaterländische Union) and the Progressive Citizen's Party (Fortschrittliche Bürgerpartei in Liechtenstein) have been the dominant political parties over the last 50 years.

Economy


The population of Liechtenstein is among the world's richest and enjoys a gross national income per capita of more than US$137,000.[3] Traditionally viewed as a tax haven, the country has come under pressure over the last two decades to combat money laundering and tax evasion. The State agreed to comply with transparency and tax-information sharing standards in 2009, and has since been removed from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development's list of uncooperative tax havens.[4] An amnesty introduced in 2010 has allowed those holding offshore accounts to declare their holdings and pay only 10 per cent of taxes evaded since 1999.[5]

Media and civil society

Liechtenstein is largely dependent on foreign media, satellite televisions is particularly popular, though one private television station, one private radio station and two daily newspapers operate in the country.[6]

Reporters Without Borders rated the country 7th out of 179 in its Press Freedom Index of 2013, reflecting the strong guarantees of media freedom in the country.[7] Freedom House too has recognised the country's press as among the freest in the world.[8]

Human rights and children's rights

Though generally a country with high human rights standards, international human rights mechanisms have largely agreed on their criticisms of the Liechtenstein's record. The issue of xenophobia and discriminatory treatment affecting minority children has been a common theme among UN Treaty Bodies' reports on the country, particularly with regards to the barriers migrant children face in accessing education. The UN Committee against Torture has also raised pervasive concerns about Liechtenstein's treatment of children in conflict with the law, particularly in relation to the lengthy pre-trial detention of children, including in the same facilities as adults.[9]

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2012"
  2. Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein, Article 37(2)
  3. World Bank Data, GNI per vapita. Atlas method (current US$), 2009
  4. Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, "List of uncooperative tax havens" 10 November 2009
  5. The Financial Times, "Liechtenstein tax amnesty extended" 7 February 2012
  6. Freedom House, "Freedom of the World 2013: Liechtenstein"
  7. Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2013"
  8. Freedom House, "Freedom of the Press 2008: Liechtenstein"
  9. CRIN, "Liechtenstein: Children's rights in UN Treaty Body reports" 24 April 2012

Sources:

Quick Facts

  • Population: 36,600 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Population under 18: 7,000 (UNICEF, 2011)
  • Number of internet users: 31,206 (85% of the population) (Internet World Stats, 2012)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 24 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Happy Planet Index ranking: N/A