Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1992

Mongolia, once a highly centralized Communist state, installed its first freely
elected government in 199K) as part of its transition towards multiparty democracy.
Following passage of a new electoral law, Mongolia's first multiparty legislative elections
were held m July 1990. As a result of those elections, a new government was
formed in September 1990.
Mongolia has a president, prime minister, and a popularly elected legislature. In
January the legislature approved a new Constitution, which entered into force on
February 12. In addition to establishinc Mongolia as a sovereign republic and providing
a broad range of rights and freedoms, me new Constitution restructured the
legislative branch of government, replacing the bicameral legislature (Great People's
Hural and SmaU Hural) with the unicameral State Great Hural (SGH) with 76
members. The new Constitution also replaced legislative election of the President
by election throus^ a popular vote. Elections for a new President are scheduled for
June 1993. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet are nominated by the President
and approved by the SGH.
Thirteen parties, including the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP),
renstered to participate in me June 28 elections which elected the first SGH. The
MFBPs approximatelv 67 percent of the popular vote gave it 71 of the 76 SGH
seats. In contrast to the previous coalition government, the three opposition parties
represented in the SGH refused to join Prime Minister Jasrai's Government, which
is thus entirely composed of MPRP members.
The state security apparatus—now a department responsible to the Cabinet—continues
to redefine its role in Mongolia's post-Communist society. Althou^ legislation
enacted in Au^st 1991 banned police and security officers, along with a wide
range of other officials, from membership in political parties, several parties nominated
security, national police, and border police officials as candidates in the June
SGH campaign. However, all withdrew before the election. Some national police and
border guara officers also are active in the ultranationalist "Committee of 281" and
its associated "Independence Party."
A State Security Law enacted in 1992 establishes SGH control and supervision
of the Department of State Securitv's (DSS) budget; presidential control of policy;
and government oversight of daily activities, with the State Procurator also
overseeing the legal aspects of security operations. However, the new law also provides
the Department a special ri^t to conduct surveillance in order to carry out
its duties, and establishes the presence of security representatives in all public enterprises.
Total military expenditures for 1989, the last year for which the U.S. Arms Control
and Disarmament Agency conducted a detailed analysis, were $259 million.
Since that year ti^t government budget restraints, withcmiwal of Soviet aid, and
skyrocketing inflation nave severely cut into military expenditures. Althou^ no accurate
figures are available, real ^llar spending on the military has likely significantly
Despite increasing industrialization and urbanization, a large portion of the population
is engaged in agriculture, with an emphasis on livestock raising and associated
li^t industiy. After decades of nearly total dependency on the former Soviet
Union, Mongolia is attempting to increase its foreign trade with other countries and
to make the difficult transition to a market economy. The new Constitution lays the
legal groundwork for this transition by establishing the right to private ownership
ofproperty, and to conduct private commercial activity. However, these efforts have
been handicapped by a severe foreign exchange shortage and a general economic
The new Constitution establishes the basis for continued significant progress in
most human rights categories. It forbids discrimination of any sort and clearly establishes
freedom of speech and press, assembly, and the ris^t of citizens to change
their government. Implementation of the rights provided Tor in the Constitution,
however, will depend on SGH enactment of a range of implementing laws.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing.
^There has been no evidence of such
killings in recent years.
      b. Disappearance.
^There were no known instances of politically motivated abductions
or oisappearances in recent vears.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
According to the new Constitution, "no person shall oe subjected to torture, inhuman,
cruel, or degrading treatment." There have been no reports that torture or
other such treatment or punishment has been practiced in the recent past. However,
in September a senior official of the Ministry of Justice confirmed recent press reports
that several prisoners starved to death while in jail when prison officials were
unable to provide minimum caloric requirements due to a national food shortage.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, and Exile.—There were no confirmed reports of arbitrary
arrest, detention, or exile.
Under the new Constitution, no person shall be searched, arrested, detained, or
deprived of liberty except by law. A person arrested for committing a crime, his family,
and his legal counsel are to be notified of the reasons for the arrest within a
Eeriod of time established by law. Mongolia's Legal Code \a currently under revision.
Tntil that revision is complete, the existing Legal Code remains in force. That Code
permits police to arrest those in the act of committing a crime and hold them for
up to 72 hours without a warrant. For incarcerations of longer duration, or when
the actual crime was not witnessed, a warrant must be issued by a prosecutor. Prosecutors
are appointed by the State Prosecutor for a 5-year term. The State Prosecutor
was appointed by the GPH for a 5-vear term. At year's end, the SGH was reviewing
a new law on the structure and operations of the state prosecutor system.
Under the existing Legal Code, a person in detention has no statutory right to
see an attorney, and defense attorneys have been routinely denied access to their
clients prior to trial. The new Constitution, however, provides for the right to legal
assistance upon request but does not provide for free legal counsel for the indigent.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The new Constitution provides the ri^t to a fair
trial, legal assistance, appeal of a court judgment, and request for pardon. Court
proceedings are to be open to the public except in cases involving crimes against
the State, rspe cases involving minors, and particularly brutal murders, as specifically
prescribed by law. The accused is entitled to examine the evidence pertaining
to his case. Trials aie conducted in Mongolian but an interpreter is provided if the
accused does not understand Mongolian. A person has tne right not to testify
against himself or his family. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The new Constitution also provides for a number of structural changes that have
not yet been implemented. A General Council of Courts (GCC) is to select all judges
and protect their rights. The Supreme Court is to be the hi^est judicial body with
its justices nominated by the GCC and confirmed by the SGH and President. The
Supreme Court is constitutionally empowered to review and make decisions on
criminal cases and legal disputes assigned to it, examine all lower court decisions
excluding specialized court rulings upon appeal, and provide ofiicial interpretations
of all laws except the Constitution itself. Tne sole authority for interpreting the Constitution
is the newly created Constitutional Court. It is comprised of nine members,
including a chairman, appointed for 6-year terms. Three are named by the SGH,
three by the President, and three by the GCC.
While the Supreme and Constitutional Courts are now fiinctioning, fiirther restructuring
of the court system must await enactment of implementing legislation
by the SGH. In the interim, the existing three-level court system remains in operation.
The local (or "people's") courts handle most routine criminal and civil cases
such as assault, petty larcenv, traflic accidents, and liability disputes. Provincial
courts hear serious cases such as murder, rape, grand larceny, oiiicial corruption,
and security cases. Provincial courts also review local court decisions. The Supreme
Court serves as an appeals court for the people's and provincial courts. To date the
Supreme Court has rarely overturned the verdicts of the lower courts. Supreme
Court judges were appointed by the former Great People's Hural (GPH) for a 4-year
term, (jower court judges were appointed by provincial hurals, also for 4-year terms.
Current civil and criminal codes provide for the right of the accused to judicial process,
a legal defense, and public trial "except as stipulated by law." Closed proceedings
are permitted in cases involving crimes against the State, rape cases involving
minors, and particularly brutal murders. Witnesses are usually required to appear
at trials, but written testimony is sometimes accepted instead. The accused must
answer aU questions put to him by the prosecutor.
The status of the Mongolian Military Court is unclear. In the past, the Military
Court was a separate entity rather than part of the national court ^stem. Since
no reference to this court is made in the new Constitution, new legislation is needed
to resolve the issue. Many expect that the Military Court will be fiiUy integrated
into the civilian judicial system.
In the past the courts have been nominally independent, but in reality were closely
controlled by the MPRP. Since the 1990 revolution, there has been a comprehensive
review of the Legal Code and the structure of the judiciaryin order to establish
a legal system which will conform to international stendards. The new Constitution
stipulates that the judiciary will be independent and strictly glided by law; it remains
to be seen how this stipulation will oe implemented.
There are no political prisoners.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
right to privacy of Mongolian citizens, their families, correspondence, and homes is
provided for in the new Constitution. Despite political reforms and cutbacks in the
apparatus of government, however, the Government, under old regulations still in
force, retains the authority to exercise control over individual activity. Warrants
must be issued by a prosecutor before persons or premises may be searched.
According to the 1992 State Security Law, the DSS, despite internal reforms, still
reserves the right to use special surveillance methods (e.g., wiretaps) in order "to
cany out its duties." No information is available on the extent of these practices,
but the authority of the DSS seems signiflcantly less than what it was before the
1990 democratic revolution.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Freedom of speech, press, and "expression of
opinion" is provided for in the new Constitution and is now widely respected in practice,
althou^ some limits remain. Lively debate covering a broad rsmge of political,
economic, and social topics continued in 1992. Newspapers are able to publish and
circulate freely. However, except for those newspapers which were able to import
newsprint directly or obtain it as a gift, newsprint shortages prevented most newspapers
from appearing regularly. The Government controls the allocation of newsprint
importea througti oflicial trade, and opposition parties and other publishers
continued to allege that limitations on the quantities of newsprint efiectively prevented
them from publishing as frequently as the MPRP newspaper, Unen.
Although a new "independent" but government-financed television company was
formed in mid- 1992, it broadcasts only 1 day a week and only in the Ulaanbaatar
area. Government-owned Mongolian radio and television remain the only national
broadcast systems. Although both the opposition and the Government at times have
criticized Mongolian television's coverage, it regularly broadcasts the views of opposition
parties as well as those of the Gavemment, and its news programs are generallv
considered balanced. During the 1992 SGH elections, all parties and independent
candidates were given free and equal broadcast time on Mongolian radio
and television and space in the government newspaper Ardiyn Erh on the basis of
a mutuallv agreed lotteiv.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The new Constitution provides
for freedom of peaceful assembly. Demonstrations—including hunger strikes—over
various issues, mainly protesting government economic poliaes, were held throughout
the year without interference by the authorities, ^tnough permits are required
for demonstrations, this requirement is not enforced. The new Constitution also
grants the right to form a political party or other public organizations and to unite
voluntarily in associations according to social interests or convictions.
      c. Freedom of Religion
The new Constitution provides for the right both to "worship
and nonworship"; there is no state religion. The Constitution explicitly provides
for the separation oi church and state. Since the 1990 revolution, freedom of^religion
has been respected in practice. Throughout 1992 the revival of the Buddhist mith
and its institutions continued, including the reopening of a number of monasteries
and schools. The Government continued to empnasize that it no longer interferes
in the conduct of religious affairs. Two religious-based political parties participated
in the June elections with a number of Buddhist clerics among their candidates.
Mongolia's Muslim Kazakh population, concentrated in the western province of
Bayan Ulgiy, is allowed to practice religion freely. Some Mongolian Kazakhs make
the haij to Mecca each year, and a number of future clerics are now studying theology
in Turkey and other Muslim countries. The importation of Korans has been allowed
since 1990. The Association of Mongolian Religious People, formed in 1990,
continued to function freely. The Government has not interfered with the activities
of Christian and other missionaries, and proselytizing is permitted. However, a Ministry
of Education announcement stipulates that, because the new Constitution requires
that education be kept separate from religion, foreign language teaching
must not be used as a means of conducting missionary activity.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The new Constitution provides Mongouans the right to move freely
within the country, choose their residence, travel and reside abroad, and return to
Mongolia. The right to travel abroad may, however, be limited by law in order to
ensure national security and protect public order. At least some Mongolians are required
to surrender their passports upon completion of foreign travel and must re-
S[uest their return for further use. Over 131,000 Mongolians traveled abroad in the
irst 8 months of 1992. A large number of Mongolian Kazakhs chose to emigrate to
newly independent Kazakhstan, and the Government posed no obstacles to their de-
Earture. Mongolia does not receive many refugees, but a few who have come from
hina's province of Inner Mongolia have oeen accepted for resettlement.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The 1992 Constitution provides citizens the rid[it to change their government
through periodic, free elertions with universal suflrage. In June 1992, Mongolian
citizens exercised their right to vote in the first SGH elections. The elections were
generallv judged by observers to be free and open, as procedural flaws did not significant^
affect the outcome of the election. Thirteen parties, including the MPRP,
registered to participate in the campaign. The MPRP won approximately 57 percent
of the popular vote, and 71 of the 76 SGH seats. Although tne other 12 parties won
43 percent, they failed to be awarded an equivalent number of seats because the
large number of competing parties splintered the vote, and the 1992 election law
stipulated that the party which gained a simple plurality of the votes for a particular
seat, remrdless of now small a share of total votes cast, won the seat. Based
on the MPRPs victory, the ruling party formed a new Government which included
new Prime Minister Jasrai, two deputy prime ministers, and a Cabinet composed
only of MPRP members. President Ochirbat will remain in his position until a new
presidential election scheduled for June 1993.
The Constitution establishes the unicameral State Great Hural (SGH) as the supreme
organ of government. Its 76 members are elected by direct, secret ballot for
4-year terms. The SGH has the right to set the date of SGH and presidential elections
and can remove the President. The President of Mongolia serves as Head of
State and is elected to a 4-year term (with a limit of two terms) by national secret
ballot. The Government has a 4-year mandate and is nominated by the party that
wins a majority in the SGH. The SGH, in consultation with the President, will continue
to elect tne Prime Minister and approve his Cabinet.
There are no legal impediments to the participation of women in government and
politics. According to the new Constitution, "men and women shall be equal in political
and economic fields * * *" In 1991 women constituted about 30 percent of the
MPRP membership. Several women were elected to the SGH in June.
Section 4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovermental Investigation
of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A local human rights group, the Mongolian Human Ri^ts Committee, was
formed in 1990. There are no known impediments to its abibty to monitor and report
on human rights developments. The Government has cooperated with international
nongovernmental human rights organizations.
Section 5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
The new Constitution provides that "* * * no person shall be discriminated
against on the basis of ethnic origin, language, race, age, sex, social origin, or status
* * * " and that "* * * men ana women shall be equal in political, economic, social,
cultural fields, and family affairs."
There appears to be little discrimination in education on the basis of race, sex,
or religion. According to government statistics, the percentage of women in the work
force was 51.3 percent in 1992. Women formed about half of trade union membership
and also hold high professional positions in such institutions as the courts,
schools, research centers, and hospitals. Women reportedly get equal pay for performing
the same jobs as men.
Little is known about the extent to which violence against women, including domestic
violence, occurs. It has not been discussed as a matter of public policy or in
the media. According to senior officials, there is some domestic violence against
women but the problem is not common and does not require new legislation. However,
the (jrovemment believes a related problem—the growing number of orphaned
and abandoned children—is becoming a serious national problem that requires additional
government action.
Section 6. Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
The right to organize professional associations and
trade unions is provided for in the new Constitution. The charter of the Federation
of Mongolian Trade Unions (FMTU) provides for the unionization of police and military
personnel, but it is unclear whether there are any such unions. Approximately
75 percent of the total Mongolian work force is unionized. Union officials are elected
by secret ballot.
There are no arbitrary restrictions on who may be a union official. Union members,
other than civil servants and essential service workers, have the right to
strike, and several strikes took place during the year. In early 1992 medical and
railway workers conducted sit-in protests in Ulaanbaatar's main square but drew
little support. These protests apparently were settled by mutual agreement between
the strikers and the Government acting as employer and reportedly resulted in
wage increases. In November a national teachers' strike, organized with the help
of the Social Democratic Party, closed a portion of Mongolian schools for several
days. Although the Government rejected the teachers' demand for doubled salaries,
the strike was suspended in December to permit an attempt to negotiate a solution.
Most unions in Mongolia are currently affiliated with the FMTU, which formerly
was a part of the MPRP. The FMTU separated from the party during the 1990 revolution,
and its charter now states that all unions have the right to leave it should
they 80 desire. The FMTU also maintains there is no requirement for new unions
to register with it or with any government body. The FMTu is apparently no longer
an instrument of ^vemment control. No political parties can be du«ctly represented
in Mongolian enterprises. During 1990 a new union movement called 'The
Association of Free Trade Unions" (AFTU) enoerged, which includes some 70 unions.
In 1992 another new union organization, called "Blue Mongolia," came into existence
with approximately 40,000 members.
The new Constitution places no restrictions on the political activity of unions or
union oflicials. In 1992 aU three labor movements, as well as individual unions, frequently
and publicly criticized government economic policies and actions. There is
no statutory prohibition against unions forming federations or joining international
bodies. Mongolian unions, formerly afliliated exclusively with international Communist
organizations, are broadening their contacts with Western labor movements.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
There reportedly have been
no collective baivainin^ agreements completed to date because of changes in the
Labor Law introduced m 1991. A draft law which guarantees the rightto baivain
collectively was not approved before conclusion of uie previous parliament and reportedly
will be resubmitted for consideration by the new Government. A state commission
and individual institutions determine wage levels. Unions are also involved
in negotiating wage levels.
The Labor Law prohibits antiunion discrimination. According to the law, an employer
must show work-related cause and must obtain the umon's approval to fire
a union official who is an employee. The courts have the ri^t to order reinstatement.
The FMTU says there were a few such cases in 1992, most of which resulted
in the workers regaining their jobs.
Export processing zones do not exist in Mongolia.
c. Prohibition (^Forced or Compulsory Labor.—Forced or compulsoiy labor is specifically
prohibited by law. However, students are freauently mooilizea to help farmers
harvest their crops. A Mongolian Student Union (MSU) spokesman chai^ged that
students were compelled to participate in the fall harvest under threat of 1 year's
involuntary leave or expulsion from school. The MSU also claimed that many students
were compelled to help with the 1991 harvest under threat of penalties to be
imposed by their schools and that a number of those who refiised were punished.
The courts rejected an MSU challenge to the constitutionality of student participation
in the harvest, and the Government has not otherwise responded to MSU complaints.
Under the Criminal Code, prisoners can be forced to labor for the Government
althou^ the extent of such compulsion is unknown.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
e law prohibits children under
the age of 16 fi:t>m working, with the exception of those aged 14 and 15 if allowed
by the local trade union committee and given permission by their parents. Those
under 18 are statutorily prohibited from woiking at night, from doing arduous woik,
or from working in dangerous areas such as mining or construction.
Mongolian Government Resolution 208 of 1991 specified those jobs barred to
women and to children under the age of 16. Enforcement of these prohibitions, as
well as all other labor regulations, is the responsibility^ of state labor inspectors assigned
to regional and local ofdces. These inspectors visit workplaces and have the
authority to order and, reportedly, compel immediate compliance with labor regulations.
Prior to 1991 child employment was banned by the Constitution, and no statistics
were kept on such employment. However, in 1991 the Government created the National
Commission for Children. The Commission, under the Ministry of Labor, is
responsible for verifying the extent and condition of child labor. As a first step, the
Coinmission reauested basic information from Mongolian firms. Its staff also visited
businesses to obtain data. According to the commission, as of late December, no
Mongolian firm provided any information in response to its requests. No alternate
source of data on child labor appears to exist.
e. Acceptable Conditions <^Work.—Hie government-established minirrmm wage
applies to all workers. While it is difiicult to determine what portion of the wont
force is paid at the minimum wage, this wage, together with subsidies provided
workers, appears to provide an adequate standard of living, althou^ that is endangered
by continuing mflation.
The Labor Law sets 46 hours as the standard woricweek, and establishes a minimum
rest period of 42 hours between work weeks. For those under 18 the standard
workweek is 36 hours. Overtime is forbidden by law except in case of national emergency
or natural disaster, such as an earthquake or floods, and then only with the
concurrence of the local labor union.
Safety and health are priority concerns of the Government, but no specific laws
on these topics have yet oeen presented to the SGH. At present, the Labor Law,
the Cooperatives Law, and the Enterprise Law provide occupational safety and
health standards, and the Ministry of Labor sets additional standards. These standards
are enforced by the Government with the help of the trade unions; violators
may be fined and imprisoned. Nonetheless, given Mongolia's near total reliance on
outmoded machinery and continuing problems with spare parts and maintenance,
accidents are frequent. According to the FMTU, every fourth day a Mongolian woricer
dies from an industrial accident.