Watchdog Slams Andorra For Pursuing Criminal Charges Against Outspoken Activist

Watchdog Slams Andorra for Pursuing Criminal Charges Against Outspoken Activist

A prominent watchdog group on Tuesday called out Andorran authorities for launching a criminal investigation against activist Vanessa Mendoza Cortes after she criticized the government's stance on abortion

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 16th February, 2021) A prominent watchdog group on Tuesday called out Andorran authorities for launching a criminal investigation against activist Vanessa Mendoza Cortes after she criticized the government's stance on abortion.

According to Amnesty International, in October 2019, the activist took part in the fourth periodic review session of Andorra before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, giving an opinion on the state of protection of women and girls, as well as claiming that the country's blanket ban on abortion has a harmful impact on women. Soon after the government lodged a complaint against Mendoza with the public prosecutor's office, claiming that the activist was damaging the reputation of the government. A preliminary hearing in Mendoza case is scheduled for� Wednesday.

"Amnesty International urges the General Prosecutor to immediately drop ongoing charges. The Andorran authorities should refrain from bringing additional criminal charges or take administrative measures against Vanessa Mendoza Cortes that stem from her human rights work.

On the contrary, we urge the state to take action to ensure Vanessa Mendoza Cortes and other human rights defenders can carry out their legitimate human rights work free from reprisals and intimidation," the watchdog said in a statement, adding that legal provisions to defend the right to honor and reputation are to protect individuals and not values or state institutions.

Andorra is one of few European countries where the right to abortion is severely restricted or nonexistent, along with Malta, Poland, Monaco, Lichtenstein, the Vatican and San Marino. The country's constitution recognizes "the right to life and fully protects it in its different phases." This stance has been subject of criticism by many human rights advocates who view female reproductive rights as one of the fundamental human rights. This stance contradicts social teachings of the Catholic Church, which, despite not being considered a state religion, does have a somewhat special status enshrined in the constitution.