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A. UN Convention status
A1. Ratification or conclusion of the UN Convention
Liechtenstein has not yet signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
In 2013, Liechtenstein committed itself to sign the UNCRPD, including the Optional Protocol as a result of Liechtenstein's second cycle of universal periodic review.
The government of Liechtenstein appointed an inter-office working group to assess the need for preparation of ratification. Based on changes within the governmental organisation and the founding of the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein (Verein für Menschenrechte, VMR) as an independent national human rights institution in 2016, the process of preparation of the UNCRPD ratification was delayed.
In 2018, the Principality of Liechtenstein was reviewed for the third time by the UN Human Rights Council. The questions and recommendations of the participating UN representatives focused, among other topics, on the ratification of additional international human rights instruments. In other words, the ratification of the UNCRPD was at the centre of the comments on the subject of disability. Nearly half of the statements made on this subject recommended Liechtenstein to ratify the UN Convention.
In its statement regarding the recommendations for a quick ratification of the UNCRPD, Liechtenstein rejected them. As justification, the Government stated that a process is planned to clarify in detail the expected effects of ratification in cooperation with various organisations and civil society. A final decision on ratification will be taken on the basis of the outcome of this process.
A2. Ratification or accession to the Optional Protocol
During Liechtenstein's second cycle universal periodic review in 2013, Liechtenstein received the recommendation to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its Optional Protocol (OP-CRPD). Liechtenstein accepted the recommendation but has not ratified the OP-CRPD so far.
Liechtenstein submitted a report on the national human rights situation in Liechtenstein in autumn 2017 to the UN Human Rights Council. The Report serves as the basis for the third Universal Periodic Review. During the discussion session on 24 January 2018, the representatives of the UN Human Rights Council repeated the recommendation regarding the ratification of the UNCRPD and its Optional Protocol.
In its statement regarding the recommendation for a quick ratification of the UNCRPD including the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Liechtenstein rejected it. As justification, the Government stated that a process is planned to clarify in detail the expected effects of ratification in cooperation with various organisations and civil society. A final decision on ratification will be taken on the basis of the outcome of this process.
A3. Declarations, Reservations and Objections
Liechtenstein has neither signed the UNCRPD nor the Optional Protocol. Hence there are no declarations, reservations or objections.
A4. Comprehensive review
Liechtenstein has neither signed the UNCRPD nor the Optional Protocol. No comprehensive review in preparation for implementation of the UN convention has been made.
A5. Focal point
Liechtenstein has signed neither the UNCRPD nor the Optional Protocol. Hence, no focal point has been appointed.
The Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein can be regarded as the main administrative board. It was founded by 26 non-governmental organisations on 10 December 2016 and acts as an independent national human rights institution in accordance with the United Nations Paris Principles of 1932. The status of the association and the relevant legal provisions were laid down in a new law, the Law on the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein (Gesetz über den Verein für Menschenrechte in Liechtenstein; VMLG). This Act entered into force on 1 January 2017, and the association became operational from that day onward.
The Association replaced the former Office for Equal Opportunities, which was assigned to the Ministry of Society. The Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein coordinates measures to bring about equal opportunity and to protect human rights, and serves as an independent national institution for further development and the implementation of human rights as well as human rights education. The association also has the function of an independent Ombudsman for children and young people in accordance with Art. 96 of the Children and Youth Act.
A6. Coordination mechanism
Liechtenstein neither has signed the UNCRPD nor the Optional Protocol. Hence, no co-ordination mechanism has been established yet.
The Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein (Verein für Menschenrechte, VMR) and Liechtenstein Association of Persons with Disabilities (LBV) are not judicial bodies. None of their roles can be interpreted as being quasi-judicial. Their statements have no binding legal character and they do not automatically trigger a right of action (in court).
The Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein coordinates measures to bring about equal opportunity and to protect human rights. Its main tasks are:
- Advising authorities and private individuals on human rights issues;
- Counselling people who feel violated in their rights and supporting victims of human rights violations;
- Inform the public about the human rights situation in Liechtenstein;
- Conducting investigations and recommending appropriate measures to authorities and private individuals;
- Giving opinions on draft laws and regulations and on the ratification of international conventions;
- Promoting dialogue and national / international cooperation with human rights bodies.
The Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein also promotes a comprehensive national anti-discrimination act, covering the grounds of religion, belief, disability, race, origin, gender and sexual orientation.
A7. Independent mechanism
Liechtenstein has neither signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) nor the Optional Protocol. Hence, no independent mechanism due to the CRPD has been established yet.
The Office for Equality of People with Disabilities was established by the Liechtenstein government according to Article 22 of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities which is run at present by the Liechtenstein Association for People with Disabilities. The main duties of the Office are: counselling of private and public bodies; collaboration in the development of legislation; drafting of reports; etc.
Based on the Law on the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein (Verein für Menschenrechte, VMR), the responsibilities of the Association include carrying out investigations and recommending measures to public authorities and private parties, preparing comments on draft laws and ordinances and on the ratification of international agreements. Furthermore, the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein checks legal provisions for their compliance with human rights for monitoring purposes.
In 2018 the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein VMR announced its position on the signing and ratification of the UNCRPD, including the Optional Protocol. In the view of the VMR, there is nothing to prevent the signing and ratification of the Convention and the Optional Protocol, especially since the Convention can provide important impulses for shaping Liechtenstein’s policy on people with disabilities and the treatment of people with mental illnesses.
A8. Official reporting
Liechtenstein neither has signed the CRPD nor the Optional Protocol. Hence, no official reporting is due to the UN Committee.
A9. Shadow reporting
Liechtenstein has neither signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) nor the Optional Protocol. Hence, no shadow reporting due to the CRPD has been established yet.
The Association of People with Disabilities published a report on the situation of persons with disabilities in Liechtenstein in 2017. The report concludes that there are too few studies and statistical data available on the situation of disabled persons in Liechtenstein. Most respondents to this report expressed their support for the Liechtenstein’s ratification of the UNCRPD, but in some part with scepticism about its implementation or practicability. They emphasized that it was important to clarify in advance what consequences a consistent implementation of the UNCRPD might have on the legal situation and structures of people with disabilities in Liechtenstein.
Since the establishment of the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein (Verein für Menschenrechte, VMR) in December 2016, no reports have been published by this Association so far. The official position of the VMR in the field of disability is clearly positive regarding the ratification of the UNCRPD.
B. General legal framework
B1. Anti-discrimination legislation
The Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein contains no provisions directly related to discrimination, neither on the grounds of gender, nor ethnicity, age or disability. However, it includes the basic principle of equality. Article 27bis states that human dignity shall be respected and protected and that no one may be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 31 states that all Liechtenstein citizens shall be equal before the law. The Law on Equality of People with Disabilities (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG) aims at eliminating and preventing discrimination against people with disabilities. Nobody shall be discriminated against on the grounds of disability. This is also valid for parents or other people caring or assisting persons with disabilities. The Law on Equality of People with Disabilities aims to guarantee equal participation of people with disabilities in the daily life of society. Regarding specific rights of disabled children, regulations about educational options are given in Art. 18 of the BGlG. No specific rights of disabled women are acknowledged.
In April 2016, an amendment to § 283 of the Criminal Code (StGB) entered into force, introducing a comprehensive prohibition against discrimination. While before, only racial discrimination constituted a criminal offence, the offence now also includes publicly inciting hatred or discrimination on the grounds of language, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, ideology, gender, disability, age, or sexual orientation.
B2. Recognition of legal capacity
Articles 187 to 268 of the Common Civil Code are about custodianship (Vormundschaft), and Articles 269 to 284 are about legal guardianship (Sachwalter). Legal guardians are foreseen for adult persons who experience mental illness or who have an intellectual disability, and who are not able to manage some or all of their affairs without the danger of disadvantaging themselves in some way. The task of the legal guardian may include only some specifically defined activities, set out, for instance, in a single legal act or several legal procedures, or it may include all the affairs of the disabled person. In 2010 the Common Civil Code was amended in order to enable private associations to be set up as legal guardianship instead of the previous state office (Article 279, paragraphs 3 and 4). Hence, the Act on Custodianship by Associations was enacted the same year; the Association for Legal Guardianship was founded subsequently.
B3. Accessibility of voting and elections
There are no stated provisions which generally exclude citizens with disabilities from exercising their voting rights, neither in the Constitution (Verfassung des Fürstentum Liechtenstein, 05.10.1921, LGBl 1921, no. 15) nor in the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG), 25.10.2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243). Restrictions on the right to elect and vote are specified in the Act on the Exercise of the Political Rights of the People (Gesetz über die Ausübung der politischen Volksrechte in Landesangelegenheiten (Volksrechtegesetz; VRG), 17.07.1973, LGBl. 2012 no. 357), but do not include disability in general.
Regarding election procedures in Liechtenstein Art. 49 (2) of the VRG states that voting booths shall be set up in the polling station in such a way that voters are able to fill in the ballot paper unattended. Voters with a physical disability may, with the approval of the Electoral Commission, take a representative to assist them in the voting booth. In addition, polling station staff must ensure that disabled voters are not offered a lower standard of service than other voters.
In practice, on the occasion of each election or referendum, the Government issues setup guidelines to guarantee accessibility to all voters. This includes measures to design voting documents (including ballot papers) according to the internal guidelines of the Government. These guidelines were introduced in 2006. However, comparing the internal guidelines of the Government with the rules of easy language for people with disabilities (published by the Association for People with Disabilities) it can be said that the voting documents are not completely accessible to people with learning difficulties (as a group of people with disabilities).
B4. Official recognition of sign language
The Law on Equality of People with Disabilities notes in Article 17 the obligation of society to take into consideration the special requirements of people with disabilities when interacting with them. This includes also the use of sign language when communicating with public authorities. This obligation is combined with the right of speech, hearing, and visually impaired people to use familiar facilities or tools, e.g. sign language, when communicating with official authorities in Liechtenstein. This includes also the possibility, upon request, to receive forms, court cases, or official notices in an understandable and comprehensible form for disabled people without additional cost. Where public services are offered via the internet, they have to be compliant with the international standards regarding accessibility for disabled people. The Criminal Court Procedures Act states that accused persons and witnesses who are deaf or dumb have to be questioned in a way to be able to answer. This may be either by conversation in written form or by the assistance of a person who is familiar with sign language, or who can communicate with the accused person or the witness successfully in another way (Articles 117 and 145 paragraph 3).
In practice, the Government has for several years granted barrier‐free access with sign‐language interpretation for its official internet platform (www.regierung.li), and for the website that provides official information about the country (www.liechtenstein.li). With financial support from the Government, the Liechtenstein Association of Persons with Disabilities (LBV) also maintains an online guide entitled "Barrier‐free through Liechtenstein" providing current information on the accessibility of public buildings, restaurants, doctors' offices, etc.
B5. National disability strategy and action plan
In Liechtenstein there is currently no explicit national disability strategy or action plan.
The Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein (Verein für Menschenrechte, VMR) defined an action plan for their future work with five main objective: women's rights and equality between women and men, children's rights, foreigners' rights and social discrimination. The Office for Equality of Persons with Disabilities has its focus on non-discrimination of persons with disabilities. No specific disability strategy and action plan have been adopted so far.
C1. Transport accessibility
Accessibility of public transport services is covered by the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG, 25.10.2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243) in Article 15 and 16.
Transport infrastructure constructed after the Act has entered into force on 1 January 2017 has to be designed in a barrier-free way. This holds also for transport systems, especially for bus stops, communication systems, ticket vending machines and transport vehicles.
If a person within the meaning of Art. 15 of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities is disadvantaged as a result of non-compliance with the regulations on accessibility, he/she may claim the right to have the deficiency rectified or the disadvantage ceased within five years of the commissioning of the transport infrastructure / facility with the government or competent municipality.
Article 32 sets time limits for public transport systems in order to fulfil the general standard expressed in Articles 15 and 16. Public transport infrastructure / facilities (Art. 15) must be barrier-free within the following periods:
- if completion has not taken place more than five years before this Act comes into force: within 20 years of this Act coming into force;
- if completion took place more than five years before the entry into force of this Act: within 12 years after the entry into force of this Act.
C2. Built environment accessibility
Accessibility of the built environment is covered by the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (AEPD) in Art. 11 to 14 (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG), as of 25 October 2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243). Section C of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities provides in Art. 11 to 14 regulations for buildings and public transportation facilities regarding accessibility and suitability for people with disabilities. These rules can be seen as a general duty to provide accessibility, which exists in the absence of an individual request. According to the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities public buildings must be constructed in a way that gives people with disabilities the possibility to move around freely. If buildings are not convenient for people with disabilities – especially public places – they must be adapted in order to give people with disabilities the freedom to move around freely as soon as work has been completed on the building. Houses with six or more apartments which were constructed before the law entered into force must be adapted at the first major renovation the house undergoes in order to give people with disabilities access and free movement. If such a building is constructed under the new law, it must be accessible from the start. However, if there are problems with space, etc., the government may make an exception. The reasons, though, must be valid and the problem of providing unfettered access must be unsolvable. These rules can be seen as a general duty to provide accessibility, which exists in the absence of an individual request. Thus, the general regulation on equal treatment based on the AEPD and the Act on the Medical Profession is also valid for technical accessibility standards or guidance relating to medical equipment. Furthermore the European Community Medical Devices Directives that have successively been introduced into the provisions which are applicable to the European Economic Area Act on the Medical Profession, comprising the 28 EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, can be seen as the basis for the current regulations in the Liechtenstein national law. Nevertheless, the rules within section C of the AEPD do not apply to private doctors’ surgeries. There is no specific regulation regarding accessibility of medical equipment used in the course of medical consultations and examinations.
C3. ICT and Web accessibility
Art. 17 of the Law on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG), of 25 October 2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243) states that the obligation of society is to take into consideration the special requirements of people with disabilities when interacting with them. Where public services are offered via the internet, they have to be compliant with the international standards regarding accessibility for disabled people. The Government has granted barrier‐free access with sign‐language interpretation for its official internet platform (www.regierung.li) and the website that provides official information about the country (www.liechtenstein.li). In respect of the services and information provided by the Parliament of Liechtenstein on its web page, a complete barrier-free version is accessible. This version is based on the same data stream as the 'regular' website and therefore the content in respect of time and quality is identical.
D. Independent living
D1. Choice of living arrangements
The law does not provide for compulsory living arrangements. In Liechtenstein, the policy on living circumstances of people with disabilities focuses on the needs and preferences of the concerned persons and their assistants. Although the various institutional care facilities provide a variety of specialised services for sheltered residential homes, the preference is unbroken for self-determined, community based living conditions. Thus, every single case is treated in its own way, mainly by the disabled person him/herself or by the legal guardian or the custodian. Preferably, people with disabilities act freely and make individual choices. This is also expressed in the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG), 25.10.2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243), which states in Article 1 that the purpose of the act is, inter alia, a self-determined life for persons with disabilities.
There are special housing services in order to facilitate everyday life of people with disabilities in their habitual surrounding. If this is not possible, the municipalities run care homes for older people, which are also potentially at the disposal of disabled people. In addition, there are various offers from private organisations.
The most well-known institution in Liechtenstein with a service agreement with the government is the Special Education Centre (Heilpädagogisches Zentrum, HPZ). The HPZ's wide range of five different types of housing makes it possible to respond to the respective needs and individual phases of life of the residents to offer them all necessary living conditions.
The Liechtenstein old-age and health assistance (Liechtensteinische Alters- und Krankenhilfe, LAK) offers living space in six facilities with care and assistance for people who are no longer able to live independently due to their age and/or disabilities. The LAK also offers "short-period-care" such as in situations when caring family members are on vacation, are sick, etc.
The Social Networking Establishment, SNK is a private organisation that provides currently nine rooms (eight more are under construction) for assisted living to young adults with disabilities (up to 30 years of age).
The Association for Sheltered Housing (VBW) is a non-profit organisation that provides social-psychiatric, therapeutic, and socio-educational services that make a contribution to basic psychosocial care in Liechtenstein.
The Life-Aid Balzers offers 44 institutional care arrangements, which are adjusted to the individual situation of each person.
The policy on living circumstances of people with disabilities in Liechtenstein focuses on the needs and preferences of the concerned persons and their assistants. Although the Special Education Centre and the Association for Sheltered Housing provide for sheltered residential homes, the preference is for self-determined living conditions. Public and private actors provide financial assistance as well as special working and day-care institutions, if these services are requested by the concerned persons and their social environment.
For the government and the competent authorities in Liechtenstein, the provision of services at an individual case level is the central focus. However, it has to be said that de-institutionalisation in Liechtenstein, in the spirit of the European Expert Group on the Transition from Institutional to Community-based Care, would need a de-institutionalisation strategy at governmental level. This would have to include not only all support services across different administrative and private sectors, but also the further development of individualised support services based on a flexible care-infrastructure for persons with disabilities.
A de-institutionalization strategy has not been on the political agenda since 2013, and no specific activities or programmes have been launched by the government. Thus, no specific data to analyse the development of institutional care and community based living of people with disabilities is available.
The Government Program 2017 - 2021 identifies some important challenges and problems for Liechtenstein for which the Government has defined measures. However, they do not include topics in the area of the de-institutionalisation of people with disabilities.
D3. Quality of social services
According to the Social Assistance Act (Sozialhilfegesetz, SHG, 15.11.1984, BGlG 1985, no. 17), the government is responsible for providing social services and concluding contracts with private service providers to ensure inpatient and outpatient care. Based on Art. 21 of the Social Assistance Act, the Office of Social Services supervises private social assistance institutions, while the Government exercises ultimate supervision. Part of these service agreements is a quarterly reporting to the Office for Social Services on the resulting costs, the services rendered and the persons cared for. This means that the Office regularly has access to detailed data on the services performed.
The Office for Equality of People with Disabilities and the Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein have the task – among others - to submit recommendations or applications for action to the government relating to the quality of community-based social services to people with disabilities. This task is not based on a set of defined or international accepted standards nor on an independent inspection body or a complaints procedure. There are no reports published regarding this issue. Thus, no standards or key legislation is available.
D4. Provision of assistive devices at home
The main legal basis for assistive device(s) provision is the Act on Disability Insurance. There is a wide range of assistance, including, among others, assistive devices (Articles 47 and 48). The provision of assistive devices, according to Article 47 paragraph 2 of the Act on Disability Insurance, is foreseen for the following purposes: at the workplace; in schools, education and training; to adapt to the status of disability; for mobility; for contacts with the environment; for self-help. This does not include devices for medical treatment (Article 48 Section 3). Persons with disabilities are entitled to assistive devices, regardless of whether they are able to work or not. Persons with disabilities can chose between registered doctors, practitioners, or recognised domestic or foreign institutions, to receive support and assistive devices (Article 47 paragraph 3). Measures of non-registered institutions outside Liechtenstein are only covered by the Insurance if the Insurance has accepted this beforehand (Article 47 paragraph 3).
D5. Availability of personal assistance schemes
The Act on Disability Insurance (Gesetz über die Invalidenversicherung (IVG), 23.12.1959, LGBl. 1960 no. 5) provides regulations in the area of personal assistance, which are provided mainly from the disability insurance. This regulation - Ordinance on the Act on Disability Insurance (Verordnung zum Gesetz über die Invalidenversicherung (IVV), 22.12.1981, LGBl. 1982 no. 36) includes mainly Personal Assistance in the Workplace/in the working environment, in order for people with disabilities to maintain a job , to integrate into a new job, to restore the working ability or to be able to take-up an activity in the mainstream labour market. In addition, personal assistance services in employment (Arts. 39-44) can be provided by specific career counselling, job services, and vocational training.
The Act on the Supplementary Benefits to the Old Age and Widow’s/Widower’s Pension (Gesetz über Ergänzungsleistungen zur Alters-, Hinterlassenen- und Invalidenversicherung (ELG), 10.12.1965, LGBl. 1965 no. 46) provides for personal assistance service benefits to people who need personal assistance, or supervision, in their everyday life.
The Model of Care and Nursing Allowance provides direct payments of outpatient care services, irrespective of age, income and wealth. Precondition for financial support is the proven use of third-party assistance, be it by family aid organisations or by employing relatives or third parties. These benefit payments are made directly to the person with disabilities and are limited to people who are not permanently in institutional care facilities, as stated in the By-Law on the Care and Nursing Allowance (Verordnung über das Betreuungs- und Pflegegeld für die häusliche Betreuung (BPGV), 9.12.2009, LGBl. 2009, no. 313).
Apart from personal assistance in the working environment and home care benefits, no national action plan on disability or any other specific programme exist. All additional support services are regulated and funded individually by private organisations such as the Social Networking Establishment, Life-Aid Balzers, Family help service and the Association for People with Disabilities.
D6. Income maintenance
People with disabilities are supported by the national disability insurance. If the income of a concerned person lies below a minimum (threshold), defined in Article 1 paragraph 1, the Act on Social Assistance (Sozialhilfegesetz, LGBl. 1987 no. 18, Art. 12 a) provides minimum income benefits (MI). As stated in Art. 3 of the Act on Social Assistance a person is eligible for MI benefits if: a) he/she is a Liechtenstein citizen and receives an income from employment and/or social transfers (including pensions) which is below the minimum income defined by the law; b) he/she is a Liechtenstein resident but not a citizen and cannot support him/herself and the eligibility of MI benefits is laid down in accordance with state treaty (state treaty between Liechtenstein and the citizenship country of the resident) as follows:
- the home country of the resident grants minimum income benefits reciprocally (i.e. treats Liechtenstein citizen resident in that country equally to its own citizens), or
- where it is necessary, in the common interest or in the interest of the person in need, to prevent that person from becoming homeless.
According to Articles 1bis to 1quinguies of the Act on Social Assistance, the provisions are valid for persons who receive payments from the national insurance system, e.g. old people, widows and widowers, and also people with disabilities. The Act on Social Assistance provides also for benefits in case of helplessness (Section B). This part of the Act aims at helping people who need personal assistance, or supervision, in their everyday life. Furthermore, the Act on Social Assistance regulates the provision of assistance for special medical treatment, including medical treatment due to genetic impairment (in Section C), and the provision of assistance for home caring (in Section D of the Act).
D7. Additional costs
People with disabilities are supported by the national disability insurance scheme. Article 1 paragraph 2 of the Act on Supplementary Assistance states that the guaranteed income level can be augmented by up to two-thirds to meet expenses for stays in care homes, for illness, for caring at home, or technical assistance.
Additional assistance is provided for blind people by the Law on Assistance for Blind People (Gesetz über die Gewähung von Blindenbeihilfe, of 17 December 1970, LGBl. 1971 no. 7). Article 1 of this Law states that this support is implemented for extraordinary expenses due to blindness. Articles 2 and 3 define the categories of persons who are entitled to profit from these benefits. The maximum monthly benefit is CHF 500 (Article 4). The extra assistance for blind people according to the Law is not charged to the disability insurance but is provided additionally (Article 5). In cases, where the total income (including the family financial assets) is below the minimum income defined by the By-law on the Old Age and Widow’s Pension Law (Verordnung zum Gesetz über die Alters- und Hinterlassenenversicherung (AHVV), of 07 December 1981, LGBl. 1982 no. 35), a supplementary benefit is paid to persons with an invalidity insurance allowance.
Within the long-term care system in Liechtenstein, the Care and Nursing Allowance is provided in accordance with the By-Law on Care and Nursing Allowance (Verordnung über das Betreuungs- und Pflegegeld für die häusliche Betreuung, BPGV, 9.12.2009, LGBl. 2009, no. 313). The Care and Nursing Allowance is paid for outpatient care services irrespective of age, income and wealth of the person in question. Precondition for financial support is the proven use of third-party assistance, be it by family aid organisations or by employing relatives or third parties.
D8. Retirement income
The Liechtenstein regulation regarding pension systems distinguishes between the Old Age and Widow’s/Widower’s Pension (mandatory contribution system arranged by the state for all employees) and the occupational retirement scheme. Basically, all employees, who are subject to a compulsory pension by the occupational retirement scheme, are also subject to the compulsory Old Age and Widow’s/Widower’s Pension (AHV) insurance scheme. The pension insurance system is set up as a mandatory contribution system for inhabitants and commuters with a working engagement in Liechtenstein. People with disabilities are covered by the social security system like anybody else if they have been employed and have been paying into the pension insurance during their active professional life. Article 52 of the Law on National Old Age and Widows and Widowers Pension (Gesetz über die Alters- und Hinterlassenenversicherung (AHVG), of 14 December 1952, LGBl. 1952 no. 29) states that every person who has paid contributions to the retirement insurance is entitled to a pension.
In 2016 the Parliament approved an amendment to the legislation for the statutory pension system. The annual state subsidy was reduced by more than 50% to an amount of 30 million Swiss francs from 2018 onward and the contributions rose from a total of 11.48% to 11.79% for employed persons. In addition, from 2018 on, the general retirement age increases from 64 to 65 for both sexes. The early retirement arrangement with reduced pension payments for persons entitled to a statutory pension remained unchanged. In respect of the early retirement arrangement, the age conditions remained unchanged, but the corresponding reduced benefits increased from the range of 4.5% to 26.1% up to 5.22% to 40.71%, depending on the age and duration of early retirement.
If contributions have not been paid for the whole of the professionally active period from 20 to 65 years of age, only a partial pension will be disbursed. If a person is supported by the disability insurance at the time when the pension age is reached, the disability insurance will be converted into a retirement pension (Article 67bis para 1). The main criteria for the Old Age and Widow’s/Widower’s Pension is given in the following act and regulation:
- Old Age and Widow’s/Widower’s Pension Act, as of 14 December 1952 (AHVG)
- By-law on Old Age and Widow’s Pension Act, as of 30 November 2010 (AHVV).
The occupational retirement scheme acts as a backup policy in the sense that the whole costs of living which occur during a person’s working life mostly cannot be covered by the first line of defence (Old Age and Widow’s/Widower’s Pension).
E1. Special schools
According to Art.18 of the Law on Equality of People with Disabilities (AEPD, Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG), of 25 October 2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243), early intervention and basic training that is customised to the specific needs of persons with disabilities must be ensured by the State (§1). Art. 18 of the AEPD states:
- Decisive are the rules of the Act on School Education.
- The State shall further ensure that children and young people with disabilities receive vocational education with respect to their special needs, abilities and interests.
The State can participate in the disability-related costs provided that they are not covered by insurance and other benefits.
In addition, Law on Vocational Training (AVT, Art. 1c) supports the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities in any area of vocational training. The specific needs of people with disabilities in respect of their pre-vocational training (in terms of basic education and training) are taken into account by Art. 16 of the AVT through the possibility of shortening or extending the training period.
Children and adolescents who are impaired in their development are supported by appropriate pedagogical and therapeutic measures in preparation for attending a special or regular school, in addition to training in a special school or to enable them to take part in regular lessons, insofar as this is necessary to promote their development.
The Office for Education decides on the allocation of a child to the regular kindergarten or regular school at the request of the child's parents. Pursuant to Art. 51 of the Ordinance on Special Measures in Schools, Pedagogical and Therapeutic Measures, Special Training and the School Psychology Service (Verordnung über die besonderen schulischen Massnahmen, die pädagogisch-therapeutischen Massnahmen, die Sonderschulung sowie den Schulpsychologischen Dienst, 28.12.2001, BGlB. 2001, no. 197), the following preliminary clarifications must be made:
- the special education needs of the child or young person;
- the suitability of the regular kindergarten or regular school eligible for allocation; and
- the objective, content and scope of the special training course.
In addition, the parents, the kindergarten or school management, the doctor and the school psychology service must be consulted.
Children and adolescents who are impaired in their development and are therefore deemed unable to meet the requirements of the regular kindergarten and regular school are trained in a special school. The training takes place in the form of a school education adapted to the developmental disorder or impairment, or in the form of support in manual matters, in everyday activities and in their ability to interact with the environment.
Art. 41 of the Ordinance on special educational measures, pedagogical-therapeutic measures, special training and the School Psychological Service defines the terms 'developmental disorders and impairment'.
The Office for Education decides on the allocation to a special school at the request of the parents or ex-officio. Pursuant to Art. 48 of the Ordinance on Special Educational Measures, Pedagogical Therapeutic Measures, Special Training and the School Psychology Service, the following preliminary clarifications are required:
- the special education needs of the child or young person;
- the suitability of the special school to which the child or young person is to be assigned.
Furthermore, the doctor, the school psychology department or other experts and specialist bodies must be consulted.
E2. Mainstream schools
The Law on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG) asserts that the state has to promote appropriate forms of training for pupils, as well as adequate training and support for teachers to integrate children and young people with disabilities into mainstream schools, and the assistance by professionals is given in such cases. The priority in the legal framework is to include disabled children within mainstream education, but in practice, in many cases, children and young people with disabilities attend the Special Education Centre, especially children with intellectual impairments. Art. 15a of the Law on School Education (SchulG) deals with special school actions for pupils with intellectual disabilities. Article 15b focuses on pedagogical and therapeutic measures. Support can start even before official school age and ends at the age of 20, exceptionally at the age of 22.
Art. 26 of the Ordinance on special educational measures, pedagogical-therapeutic measures, special training and the School Psychological Service (Verordnung über die besonderen schulischen Massnahmen, die pädagogisch-therapeutischen Massnahmen, die Sonderschulung sowie den Schulpsychologischen Dienst, 28.12.2001, BGlB. 2001, no. 197), distinguishes between the following types of pedagogical and therapeutic measures:
- Speech therapy measures;
- Psycho-motor measures;
- Early educational measures;
- Measures for the sensory impaired
Article 15b paragraph 3 states that the professionals who are providing special assistance must have a specific professional degree which qualifies and legitimises them to carry out these duties. Details are provided in the Law on School Education (Schulgesetzt (SchulG) and the Ordinance on special educational measures, pedagogical-therapeutic measures, special training and the School Psychological Service.
E3. Sign language and Braille in school
Section 2 of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG), 25.10.2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243) says that the state promotes appropriate forms of training and support for teachers to integrate children and young people with disabilities into mainstream schools. Beside this, no specific regulations about the right of children to learn Braille or sign language exist. Likewise, no specific provisions are noted in the Act on School Education (Schulgesetz (SchulG), 15.12.1971, LGBl. 1972 no. 7) with respect to sign language and Braille in school. General provisions, however, make clear that the integration of children with disabilities into mainstream schools is preferred and assistance to do so is offered by the state, e.g. by professional experts. Most children and young people with disabilities attend the Special Education Centre, especially children with mental impairment, where they receive individual teaching and training for future professional life.
E4. Vocational training
The Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz (BGlG), 25.10.2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243) in Art. 10, §1 covers all types and stages of vocational training and education. This includes the access to careers guidance, vocational training, retraining, and further training, as well as access to practical professional experience. In addition Art. 1c of the Act on Vocational Training (Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBG), 13.03.2008, LGBl. 2008 no. 103) promotes, among other measures, the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities in relation to a vocational training system. The specific needs of people with disabilities in respect to their pre-vocational training (in terms of basic education and training) are taken into account by Art. 16 of the Act on Vocational Training through the possibility of shortening or extending the training period. The national disability insurance is the main legal act relating to vocational training for people with disabilities. The Act on Disability Insurance (Gesetz über die Invalidenversicherung (IVG), 23.12.1959, LGBl. 1960 no. 5) provides for the relevant assistance in Articles 39 to 43. It includes a) professional and career planning, b) job service and checking out jobs, c) vocational training, and d) capital assistance for self-employed people with disabilities. The vocational training can either consist of initial professional education or, if disability occurs after having started a professional career, of training for a new profession, or of training to adapt to the existing profession. In addition, the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities provides for vocational education and training for children and young people with disabilities. This aid is supposed to be adapted to their special needs, talents, and interests (Article 18 paragraph 3). The state can also cover additional expenses stemming from disability, on condition that additional expenses are not covered by the insurances or other helping institutions.
E5. Higher education
There are no provisions regarding specific measures for people with disabilities in university or university college education. However, general provisions from the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (Gesetz über die Gleichstellung von Menschen mit Behinderungen (Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz; BGlG), 25.10.2006, LGBl. 2006, no. 243) are also relevant for higher education in terms of tertiary education. This holds especially for accessibility. The Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (Art. 11-12) ensures access of people with disabilities to public buildings. This means that public buildings must be constructed in a way that gives people with disabilities the possibility to move around freely. If buildings, and especially those of public use, are not convenient for people with disabilities they must be adapted as soon as construction work has been completed on the building. The Act on Equality of People with Disabilities in Art. 17 states that the obligation of society is to take into consideration the special requirements of people with disabilities when interacting with them. This obligation is combined with the right of speech, hearing, and visually impaired people to use familiar facilities or tools such as Sign Language when communicating with official authorities in Liechtenstein. It should be mentioned that most of the university level education takes place outside Liechtenstein since there is only a very limited range of studies that can be pursued in Liechtenstein. The vast majority of tertiary education for Liechtenstein residents takes place in the neighbouring countries of Switzerland and Austria.
F1. Non-discrimination in employment
The Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (in Art. 10, §1 and §2) specifies the extent of the duty to make provisions for the elimination of discrimination in the area of employment and occupation. People with disabilities shall not be discriminated against as employees in the public and the private sectors or at any other workplace, either directly or indirectly. Art. 10 §1 (lit. a to lit. k) of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities includes the aspects of recruitment, payment, voluntary social security benefits, vocational training, occupational career and promotion, other conditions for employment, termination of employment, accessibility to job services, vocational training and other services outside an employment contract, membership and co-operation in trade-unions, and conditions for the access to self-employment. There are exceptions to this general rule provided in Art. 10 §3 and §4 and Art. 10 §3 of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities, which state that discrimination does not apply if a special attribute is necessary to fulfil the professional tasks and the disabled person concerned does not fit into this scheme. As there are no specific references in the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities, it can be assumed that the scope of discrimination covers all aspects of the conditions for access to employment, to self-employment or to occupation. However, in relation to the public sector, discrimination is further limited by the Act on the Employment of Public Officials (Gesetz über das Dienstverhältnis des Staatspersonals (Staatspersonalgesetz; StPG), 24.04.2008, LGBl. 2008 no. 144) which explicitly names the integration of people with special needs, such as people with disabilities (Art. 4 sect. 2), as an objective of human resources, whereas there are no such positive statements relating to the private sector. There are no extra provisions in the labour law. Thus, special obligations for employers concerning employees with disabilities are rather weak in Liechtenstein.
F2. Public employment services
The Law on Disability Insurance (Gesetz über die Invalidenversicherung (IVG) guarantees people with disabilities assistance when they are searching for a job. The occupational integration of disabled persons is a central objective of the Liechtenstein Disability Insurance (IV). Therefore, it provides the following services for people with disabilities:
- vocational counselling for insured persons who are disabled as a result of impairments acquired in their choice of occupation or in the exercise of their previous activity;
- covering additional costs due to disability in case of initial vocational training, further training or preparation for an auxiliary work or employment in a sheltered workshop;
- re-training for a new job if necessary due to disability;
- re-training in the previous profession;
- act as an employment agency;
- work trials to clarify the ability to work, which are possible at specialised clarification centres and institutions with protected workplaces as well as at companies of the private sector and public administration;
- financial support under special conditions to take up or expand self-employment and to finance operational changes due to disability.
Art. 13bis of the Bye-Law to the Act on Disability Insurance (Verordnung zum Gesetz über die Invalidenversicherung (Invalidenversicherungsverordnung; IVV), lists details to these activities. If a person with disability finds a new job which makes it necessary to relocate to another place (due to the disability), transportation costs are covered by the disability insurance. Expenses for advertisements and inspection of a workplace are not covered by the insurance.
F3. Workplace adaptations
Within Art. 10 of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities (AEPD) no explicit regulation exists which refers to the employers' obligation to create reasonable accommodation and/or adaptation of workplaces for people with disabilities.
However, Art. 7 §3 of the AEPD states that indirect discrimination is observed if no attempts were undertaken to accommodate the situation of a concerned person. In terms of ensuring non-discrimination within employment and occupation, the obligations based on the AEPD do not differ according to the employment type of the disabled person. Thus, the obligations of the AEPD extend to public and private employers of any size and all employees. Adaptions to workplaces and other integrative activities are to be developed on a case-by-case basis, whilst binding and strong legal obligations on employers are lacking in Liechtenstein legislation.
In the event that indirect discrimination is a consequence of barriers, Art. 7 §4 states that it must be checked whether legal provisions regarding accessibility exist, and if so, whether the legal tasks are fulfilled. Within the same article, the AEPD lists the type of disproportionate burdens (unverhältnismässige Belastungen) that may justify unequal treatment and prevent this from being regarded as indirect discrimination. In detail, Art. 7 §2 specifies that the following criteria in particular have to be taken into consideration when deciding whether the likely burden is 'disproportionate' or not:
- the costs of the adaptation/accommodation;
- the resources of the enterprise;
- the extent to which public assistance is available;
- the effect on the general interest of people with disabilities.
Art. 20 of the Act on Equality of People with Disabilities states that pilot projects on the integration of people with disabilities into the working environment may be supported by society. The term 'society' is not elaborated any further, but one can assume that the government and the municipalities are addressed in this case, maybe also the disability insurance and other public services. One of the measures according to Art. 20 is financial support in order to adapt a workplace to the special needs of a person with disability. Article 32bis paragraph 6 of the Act on Disability Insurance (Gesetz über die Invalidenversicherung (IVG), 23.12.1959, LGBl 1950 no 5) says that the government is allowed to enact a by-law to support measurements for the preservation of an existing workplace for a disabled person, or to integrate a person into another workplace at the same enterprise or to ensure that another adaptions to workplaces and other integrative activities are developed on a case-by-case basis, while binding and strong legal obligations on employers are lacking in the Liechtenstein's legislation.
F4. Financial incentives
The Act on Disability Insurance (Gesetz über die Invalidenversicherung (IVG), 23.12.1959, LGBl. 1960 no. 5) and the connected By-Law provide for financial incentives for employers to adapt the workplace for a person with a disability to continue an employment, or to integrate or to re-integrate a disabled person. Art. 45bis of the Act on Disability Insurance states that financial incentives in the sense of subventions to the wages and salaries are granted in the case of an employment of a person with disability of above 40%. There are a couple of further requirements, all in connection with the disabled person and his/her employment contract. The government is entitled to provide a state grant to the salaries for employed persons with a disability under certain conditions, which is applicable for various modes of employment: full employment, partial employment, re-integration, vocational training in the home country or abroad, etc.
G. Statistics and data collection
G1. Official research
No specific research institute for data collection on disability exists. The Central Statistical Office does not publish any statistical data regarding persons with disabilities, thus Liechtenstein has no specific data source regarding information on persons with disabilities. Even the real number of people with disabilities is unknown. One can estimate that the percentage of people with disabilities is similar to the neighbouring states, Switzerland and Austria.
In 2017, the Liechtenstein Disability Association (Liechtensteiner Behindertenverband, LBV) commissioned a study regarding the situation of disabled people in Liechtenstein. The study concluded that there were not sufficient analyses and statistical data regarding disabled persons available to make any valid statement on the situation of persons with disabilities in Liechtenstein.
The Liechtenstein Institute does research on these questions as part of its scientific work.
G2. Census data
The national census is the most important statistical survey in Liechtenstein. In the area of population structure, its main results are published by the Statistical Office on the following topics:
- citizenship of the Liechtenstein population
- religious affiliation
- parenthood / number of children.
The national census is conducted every five years (previously it was only every ten years). However, within the national census, no collection of data regarding people with disabilities is made nor are they specifically identified.
G3. Labour Force Survey
The national Labour Force Survey is set up as employment statistic and provides an overview of the structure of persons employed and jobs as well as full-time equivalents in Liechtenstein. In particular, detailed information on commuters are also published.
Within the employment statistic no specific data regarding people with disabilities are collected, as disabled people are not identified in the collection of data.
G4. Disability equality indicators
No disability equality indicators are available for Liechtenstein. Indicators have neither been developed nor adopted.
H. Awareness and external action
H1. Awareness raising programs
The Office of Equality of Persons with Disabilities, which was set up in January 2007 with the entry into force of the Disability Equality Act, has the following tasks in relation to the integration and equality of persons with disabilities:
- raise public awareness, and
- carry out public-relations projects in cooperation with public or private organisations.
Twice a year, an editorial group at the Office of Equality of Persons with Disabilities publishes the newsletter 'Mittendrin' as part of a long-lasting awareness‐raising project.
The Association for Human Rights in Liechtenstein (Verein für Menschenrechte, VMR), which is an independent national human rights institution, has, among others, the legally defined task to promote dialogue and cooperation with human rights-relevant bodies and to inform the public about the situation of people with disabilities in Liechtenstein.
Awareness-raising is fostered by several institutions and associations. Many of these initiatives and projects are launched and / or supported through private organisations. The networking group 'Sichtwechsel', established in 2010 for persons with disabilities who are in need of support, includes a total of 20 governmental and nongovernmental bodies, met regularly during the reporting period to exchange experiences and to launch and prepare joint campaigns. The group also runs the internet platform (see links), which provides information on its activities and for persons with disabilities in Liechtenstein. Since 2012 and in collaboration with the Liechtenstein radio station (Radio L), the group organised an action day to raise awareness and inform the public on December 3, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
H2. Training for teachers
Art. 15b of the Law on School Education (Schulgesetz (SchulG), of 15 December 1971, LGBl. 1972 no. 7) regulates the prerequisites that persons must meet before performing pedagogical-therapeutic measures at mainstream or special education schools.
Professionally qualified persons or private institutions are entrusted with pedagogical-therapeutic measures. A person holding the relevant specialist diploma from a recognised education college or university of applied sciences is considered to be certified.
Training for teachers in inclusive teaching methods or activities to raise their awareness are not mandatory as part of the Liechtenstein legislation. Neither the Law on School Education nor the corresponding By-laws include regulations on trainings for all teachers regarding disability awareness.
Inclusive education is mainly performed by experts acting as assistant teachers in the mainstream school education system. Such trainings do not take place in Liechtenstein since there is no pedagogical college or university department exist in Liechtenstein. The training for teachers regarding inclusive teaching methods or activities mainly takes place in Switzerland or Austria.
The local disabled people’s organisations are not involved as trainers.
H3. Training for lawyers
Disability awareness or disability equality issues are not a compulsory part of training programs for lawyers. Thus the national disabled people’s organizations are not involved as trainers.
H4. Training for doctors
Disability awareness or disability equality issues are not a compulsory part of training programs for doctors. The Liechtenstein legislation has no specific regulations in place in this regard. The Act on Doctors (Gesetz über die Ärzte, 22.10.2003, LBGl. 2003, no. 239) does not contain any provisions regarding this issue. The national disabled people’s organisations are not involved as trainers. Regarding the content of the training programmes in the sense of human rights, dignity and needs of persons with disabilities, no official comments or statistics exist. It cannot be evaluated whether or not the legally binding training requirements issues like autonomy of persons with disabilities are integrated in a way to ensure awareness raising about the needs of persons with disabilities. The Liechtenstein Medical Council provides no information on its webpage regarding ethical standards as part of the action programmes or training requirements for medical professionals. The Liechtenstein Nursing and Care Organisation (LAK) provides training for care personnel to ensure high quality care also in the area of the needs of persons with disabilities.
H5. Training for engineers
At the University of Liechtenstein, within the field of study 'architecture and spatial development', the area of barrier-free building is not explicitly anchored in the curricula of Bachelor's or Master's degree programmes. This means that barrier-free design, equality issues or accessibility are not a compulsory part of the education/training programmes for engineers at the University of Liechtenstein.
The Liechtenstein Association of Engineers and Architects does not offer advanced training courses on barrier-free building.
H6. International development aid
Disability mainstreaming is not specifically identified in Liechtenstein's official policies or programmes of international development aid to other countries. Within the officially published principles, which apply to such international development aid programs, the commitment to the peace, freedom and security of all people and to the preservation of their human dignity is explicitly mentioned. One can assume, that equal treatment can be summarised under human dignity.
Liechtenstein continues to be committed to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) share target of 0.7 %. The most recent ODA available is 0.42 % for 2016. In 2017, Liechtenstein's total ODA, which also includes the local disaster fund and the costs of supporting asylum seekers in Liechtenstein, amounted to CHF 22.4 million.
In terms of practical implementation, the Liechtenstein Development Service is the main institution for international development aid in Liechtenstein. It operates on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Liechtenstein Development Service does not explicitly declare assistance for people with disabilities as one of the key targets of international aid. However, the general approach of the Service also includes the interests of people with disabilities, since the goals of the development aid are, inter alia, social justice, self-help, and satisfaction of basic needs of people (nutrition, security, education, health).