The Principality of Monaco is a constitutional monarchy in which the sovereign prince plays the leading governmental role. The prince appoints the government, which consists of a minister of state and five ministers. The prince shares the country’s legislative power with the popularly elected National Council, which is elected every five years. Multiparty elections for the National Council in 2018 were considered free and fair.
The national police are responsible for maintaining public order and the security of persons and property. The Palace Guard is responsible for the security of the prince, the royal family, and their property. Both report to the Ministry of Interior. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were no reports security forces committed abuses.
Significant human rights issues included the existence of criminal libel laws.
The country had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. The Inspection Generale des Services de Police of the Ministry of Interior is responsible for investigating whether any killings carried out by security forces were justifiable.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them. Impunity was not a significant problem in the security forces.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns. Authorities usually sent noncitizens sentenced to long prison terms to France to serve their terms.
Physical Conditions: There were no major concerns in prisons and detention centers regarding physical conditions or inmate abuse.
Administration: Authorities conducted proper investigations of credible allegations of mistreatment.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers such as regularly scheduled visits by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention and provide for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court. The government generally observed these requirements.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
Arrest warrants are required. A detainee must appear before an investigating magistrate within 24 hours of arrest to be informed of the charges against him and of his rights under the law, and authorities generally respected this requirement. There is a functioning bail system. Authorities released most detainees without bail, but the investigating magistrate may order detention on grounds that the suspect might flee or interfere with the investigation of the case. Detainees generally had prompt access to a lawyer, and the government provided one to indigent defendants. The investigating magistrate may extend indefinitely the initial two-month detention period in additional two-month increments. The investigating magistrate customarily permitted family members to see detainees.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.
The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and are generally informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them. Except for cases involving minors, trials are conducted in public, usually before a judge or tribunal of judges. Defendants have a right to be present at their trial. Defendants have the right to consult with an attorney in a timely manner. An attorney is provided at public expense, if needed, when defendants face serious criminal charges. Defendants and their counsel have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense and have access to free interpretation if necessary. Defendants are able to question the testimony of prosecution or plaintiff witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence in their defense. They may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have a right to appeal.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were delays in judicial matters. The court was closed to the public from mid-March to May 4. As of September 1, all hearings had been postponed except those related to emergencies. Some sentences were suspended and scheduled to be carried out later in the year.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
The country has an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, and residents have access to a court to bring lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, human rights violations. Plaintiffs regularly used available administrative remedies to seek redress for alleged wrongs. Persons may appeal court decisions involving alleged violations of the European Convention on Human Rights to the European Court of Human Rights after they exhaust all avenues of appeal in national courts.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Expression, Including for the Press
The constitution and law provide for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for the press.
Libel/Slander Laws: The law prohibits public “denunciations” of the ruling family and provides for punishment of six months’ to five years’ imprisonment for violations. Authorities did not charge anyone with violating these statutes during the year. The law on freedom of expression prohibits defamation or insult, particularly against citizens responsible for a public service or office.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The constitution and law provide for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons
f. Protection of Refugees
Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. Monaco is not normally a refugee-receiving country. France handles immigration matters for Monaco.
Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
The authority to change the government and to initiate legislation rests solely with the prince. The constitution can be revised by common agreement between the prince and the elected National Council. The constitution and law provide citizens the ability to choose the National Council in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: Observers considered the National Council elections in February 2018 to be free and fair.
Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit the participation of women and members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented these laws effectively. There were no reports of government corruption during the year.
Corruption: On February 17, the Council of Europe’s anticorruption body, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), published a compliance report following the recommendations that were made in its 2017 prevention of corruption evaluation report. The report noted the progress in the prevention of corruption of magistrates including new measures to better define ethical standards and to provide for a periodic review of judges.
On July 8, the court dismissed a criminal investigation for fraud and money laundering initiated by Russian billionaire, art collector, and owner of local soccer team AS Monaco, Dmitry Rybolovlev, against Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier. The long-running $2-billion art dispute was dismissed on the ground that “all investigations were conducted in a biased and unfair way.”
Financial Disclosure: Appointed and elected officials are not subject to financial disclosure laws.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights
While the government did not restrict the establishment or operation of groups devoted to monitoring human rights, none existed in the country. International human rights organizations generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.
Government Human Rights Bodies: The government’s mediation service is available to residents seeking redress against administrative decisions. The Office of the High Commissioner for the Protection of the Rights and Freedoms and Mediation protects human rights and fights discrimination. While the office acted independently, had adequate resources, and was considered effective, the government does not allow the high commissioner to initiate investigations on her own.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense with penalties of five to 20 years in prison, depending on the type of offense. The law prohibits spousal abuse, and victims may bring criminal charges against abusive spouses. According to the Association of Assistance to Victims of Offenses (AVIP), a Monaco-based nongovernmental organization that supports victims of domestic violence, there were 24 cases of domestic or family violence and four cases of rape as of September 1. According to AVIP, approximately 70 percent of these cases involved non-Monegasque residents.
On June 3, the government and local soccer team AS Monaco announced the creation of a joint partnership to provide temporary accommodations for victims of domestic violence. AS Monaco made part of its facilities available to shelter victims until the end of June.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a criminal offense with penalties of three months to three years in prison, depending on the type of offense. There were no reports of sexual harassment during the year.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
Discrimination: The law provides for the equality of men and women. The government enforced the law effectively.
Birth Registration: Citizenship may be transmitted by a citizen parent. The government registered births immediately.
Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage in the country is 18 for women and men. Children younger than 18 need parental authorization to marry.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Child prostitution and child pornography are illegal, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum legal age for consensual sex is 15.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
According to the European Jewish Congress, the Jewish community numbered approximately 1,000 persons, most of whom were not citizens of the country but foreign residents. According to the Monaco-based Association Culturelle Israelite, there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
There were no confirmed reports during the year that Monaco was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking.
Trafficking in persons is a criminal offense. Following its 2019 first evaluation visit to Monaco, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) published a report on the country in February and requested that the authorities do more to combat human trafficking. GRETA asserted that domestic workers and persons working on yachts may be at an increased risk of trafficking. More than 40,000 workers from France and Italy commute to and from Monaco every day.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and the law prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities in education, employment, health services, information, communications, buildings, transportation, the judicial system, and other state services. The government effectively implemented these laws.
Members of National/Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups
The country’s law does not clearly define and does not expressly prohibit direct and indirect discrimination based on national, racial, or ethnic identity.
Police and judicial statistics on hate crimes and hate speech were not published. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the country has never submitted data on hate crimes.
Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, including in housing, employment, nationality, and access to government services. It provides for fines, imprisonment, or both for persons who provoke hatred or violence against a person or group due to their sexual orientation, real or perceived. The government enforced these laws.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law provides for the right of workers, including foreign workers, to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes; government workers do not have the right to strike. Antiunion discrimination is prohibited. The law requires the majority of members of a trade union’s bureau to be citizens of Monaco or France. Union representatives may be fired only with the agreement of a commission that includes two members from the employers’ association and two from the labor movement. The government generally respected these rights.
The government generally enforced the law. Penalties were commensurate with those for other laws involving denials of civil rights, and generally sufficient to deter violations. The government provides the assistance of mediators for private or professional conflicts to avoid long and costly court procedures and to find a solution acceptable to all parties to the dispute.
The government and employers generally respected freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively, and employer organizations and trade unions negotiated agreements on working conditions that were largely respected.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The constitution and law prohibit all forms of forced or compulsory labor. Information regarding the adequacy of resources, remediation effort, inspection sufficiency, and penalties for violations was not available. No cases alleging forced labor were filed during the year.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits the worst forms of child labor. The minimum age for employment is 16. Employment opportunities for individuals between 16 and 18 years old are severely restricted. Specifically, individuals younger than 18 are allowed to work eight hours per day to a maximum of 39 hours per week and are barred from night work. The government enforced the law effectively. Penalties were commensurate with those for similar crimes; no violations were reported during the year.
d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
The law requires equal pay for equal work. No data were available to substantiate any gender pay discrepancy.
The law allows the firing of foreign employees without justification (with the exception of French members of trade unions described in section 7.a.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is a minimum wage, which exceeded the official estimate of the poverty level. Law and government decree establish wage, hour and health and safety standards that are appropriate for the country. Workplace health and safety committees and government labor inspectors effectively enforced the standards. Penalties were commensurate with those for similar violations, and inspection was sufficient to enforce compliance.
The Department of Employment in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs had an adequate number of labor inspectors. The chief inspector answered directly to the director of the Department of Employment. Labor inspectors informed employers and employees on all matters related to labor laws as well as health and safety standards. They arbitrated, mediated, and reconciled labor/management disputes. They carried out regular onsite inspections, including unannounced visits, to ensure employers respected all requirements of the law. Data was not available on enforcement of occupational safety and health standards in the small informal economy.