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Report of the principality of Liechtenstein on measures to combat violence against women, including domestic violence

Thematic areas

1. Legal and policy measures

    - You are expected to provide information on revised and/or new legislation adopted to prevent violence against women, protect the victim and punish the perpetrator or any initiatives taken to this extent.

The Protection against Violence Act1 took effect on 1 February 2001. As a central innovation, it contains a provision providing for protection against domestic violence, which includes the right to expel potential perpetrators from the home as a precautionary measure. Where a grievous attack on the life, health or liberty of a person is anticipated, the police may, as a precautionary measure, expel the potential perpetrator and issue a temporary restraining order, thereby providing adequate protection for the potential victim of domestic violence. This provision is meant to counter previous practice, whereby the victims of domestic violence (mainly women and children) were forced to abandon the home.

Revision of the laws on sexual offences
The revised laws on sexual offences2 took effect in February 2001. They place emphasis on the principle on empowering women to decide freely on matters relating to their sexuality (sexual self-determination). The main innovations as regards gender equality issues and protection of women against violence are the extension of the statute of limitations for sexual offences, the establishment of marital rape as a criminal offence and inclusion of sexual harassment in the workplace as a sexual offence.

The extension of the statute of limitations, which provides protection for victims even after their rights have been violated, covers rape, sexual coercion, sexual assault, sexual abuse and endangering a minor or adolescent, incest, abuse of authority, pandering, promotion of prostitution, and trafficking in persons. Rape and sexual coercion within a marriage or cohabitational relationship are subject to a term of imprisonment of up to ten years, provided that the victim files criminal charges against the perpetrator. Sexual harassment, whether verbal or by deed, is subject to fines or a term of imprisonment of up to six months.

In its June session 2007 the Parliament approved the introduction of a new explicit criminal provision on stalking (§ 107a of the Penal Code “Beharrliche Verfolgung”, “persistent pursuit”), thus making an explicit statement that this form of psychological pressure is not tolerated. By way of this new criminal offence such persistent harassment likely to infringe upon the private life of the victim is penalized. Accordingly, it will be a criminal offence to harass a person persistently and for a prolonged period in a way that is likely to seriously disrupt their way of life, namely:

(a) Entering into close proximity of the victim;
(b) Phone calls to the victim or similar such contact using other means of electronic communication or third parties;
(c) Ordering goods or services for the victim using their personal data; or
(d) Prompting others to make contact with the victim through the use of their personal data.

The new provision, which entered into force on 30 August 2007, will make an important contribution to the prevention of violence against women since it will enable the police to interfere already at a very early stage and to hinder the threatening behavior to result in an act of violence.

2. Support and protection for victims

    - You are expected to provide information on the adoption of new measures and revised measures to protect and support the victim (services offered for victims) or any initiatives taken to this extent.

On 1 January 2005, a partial revision of the Code of Criminal Procedure termed the "Victims Protection Act" entered into force. The goal of this legislative amendment is to improve the legal status of victims in criminal proceedings by establishing a procedural right to the gentlest possible, respectful treatment. In particular, the interests of young victims and victims of sexual offenses are taken into account more strongly. Upon introduction of these provisions, special training on victims protection was conducted for all judges and prosecutors.

The Victims Assistance Act entered into force on 1 April 2008. The goal of the act, namely the best possible support for victims, will be achieved on the basis of the two pillars of "counseling" and "financial assistance".

The appropriate care of victims and their families is the most important objective of victims' assistance. For this purpose, a Victims Counseling Office has been created. Its goal is to provide the necessary assistance in individual cases with respect to medical, psychological, social, material, and legal needs or, if it cannot provide such assistance itself, to find appropriate providers and to give information on victims' assistance. Both urgent and immediate help must be guaranteed around the clock, and longer-term assistance must be ensured. Concepts were developed for the practical implementation of counseling services, which has been taken into account the needs of victims of criminal offences, along with the efficient use of existing resources and available know-how.

In the area of financial assistance, both comprehensive legal aid and rights of compensation are provided for. Legal aid covers the actual cost of the proceedings for victims, such as court fees and expert fees, as well as free legal counsel, depending on the victim's financial situation. This is intended to help victims assert their claims against perpetrators as well as insurance companies, for instance.

In addition, these provisions are intended to enable victims to receive compensation from the State for material and non-material injury suffered, to the extent that no or only insufficient compensation is given by third parties. The compensation of non-material injuries is intended to express society's recognition of the difficult situation of the victim as part of comprehensive victims protection, and especially to take into account the situation of victims of sexual offenses, who as a rule suffer hardly any material injuries, but usually grave non-material injuries. In contrast to compensation for loss of assets, non-material compensation should not be dependent on the income of the victim. Maximum amounts are specified for both forms of compensation.

3. Data collection

    - You are expected to provide information on the improvements concerning the collection of statistical data, both on conducting population-based surveys as well as collecting administrative data or any initiatives taken to this extent.

The police, the social services and NGOs (namely the Frauenhaus, a women’s shelter, and the information center for women infra) are collecting data on victims and/or perpetrators.

4. Awareness Raising

    - If you have run or are planning on running a national Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence, developed within the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign and its aims and objectives, you are invited to include information on its main focus, slogan as well as main activities and Campaign website if possible. In addition, you are also expected to provide information on other awareness raising activities.

Liechtenstein did not run a national campaign from 2006 to 2008. However, since a few years, every year in November the Frauenhaus, a women’s shelter, is carrying out different actions to raise awareness of domestic violence.

Further in August 2007 two Members of Parliament, both members of the Liechtenstein delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, have made an inquiry about domestic violence against women in Liechtenstein in the parliament. The government replied to the inquiry in April 2008.

National Plans of Action

Furthermore, please identify whether your government has adopted and/or implemented a National Plan of Action to combat violence against women, including domestic violence during the course of the Council of Europe Campaign.

Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign

The Task Force will partly base its assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence on the following indicators. Please respond by ticking on the boxes.

    1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?

      YES x NO q

Physical violence (also against spouses, partners and cohabitants)
Psychological violence (also against spouses, partners and cohabitants)
Sexual assault (also against spouses, partners and cohabitants)
All sexual acts against non-consenting persons
Rape (also within marriage)
Sexual harassment at work
Genital mutilation
Forced marriages

2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?

      YES q NO x

3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?

      YES x NO q

see page 2 (No 2 of the thematic areas “Victims Protection Act”)

4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?

    YES x NO q

5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 3

      YES x NO q

1 women’s shelter / 4 places for the 34’000 inhabitants of Liechtenstein

6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?

      YES x NO q

Police, Office of social affairs

7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?

YES x NO q

Note 1 Act of 14 December 2000 amending the Police Act, LGBl. 2001 No. 27.
Note 2 Act of 13 December 2000 amending the Criminal Code (Sex Offences), LGBl. 2001. No. 16.
Note 3 The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign recommends a ratio for one place in a woman’s shelter per 7.500 inhabitants.