Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1988

The Mongolian People's Republic (MPR) , is a highly centralized
Communist state in which the Mongolian People's Revolutionary-
Party (MPRP) , the Mongolian Communist party, is the only
political party permitted to function. Since achieving power
in the 1920 's, the MPRP has continued Mongolia's long
tradition of authoritarian rule. The leadership of the
country is vested in the Politburo of the MPRP Central
Committee headed by Jambyn Batmonkh. Nominally, the Great
People's Hural, or National Assembly, enacts the basic laws of
the country. It meets for 3 days once each year. Between
sessions, the Presidium and the Council of Ministers (Cabinet)
issue decrees and executive orders.
The Mongolian State is modeled on the Soviet system, and, with
approximately four Soviet military divisions stationed there,
Moscow's political influence is great. Mongolian leaders
state that the country is instituting its own version of
perestroika (restructuring), but to date there seems to be no
visible effect on the political or economic system.
Mongolian economic life is dominated by the U.S.S.R. and
shaped by its trade with the Soviet bloc; approximately 95
percent of its foreign trade is conducted with the Soviet
Union and Eastern Europe. Soviet involvement in the economy
is primarily focused on mining and concentration of nonferrous
metals that are subsequently shipped to the U.S.S.R. for
processing. However, despite increasing industrialization and
urbanization, a majority of the population is engaged in
agricultural pursuits, with an emphasis on livestock raising
and associated light industry.
The United States and Mongolia established diplomatic
relations on January 27, 1987, and the U.S. Embassy opened
formally in September 1988. At this stage, the body of
reliable information concerning government control or
treatment of Mongolian citizens remains small. There are no
known domestic opposition groups, and emigres are few. In the
past, much of the available information has come from the
Mongolian Government itself. The few resident diplomats and
most visitors to Mongolia spend the majority of their time in
the capital, but with government permission may travel to
other parts of the country.
Individual civil and political liberties are highly
restricted. Though the numbers are increasing, few Mongolians
are authorized to travel outside Soviet bloc countries.
Political opposition to the MPRP is not permitted. Freedoms
assured to the individual under the Mongolian Constitution,
including speech, religion, demonstration, and assembly, can
be exercised only to "develop and consolidate the state system
of the Mongolian People's Republic."
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political Killing
No information is available.
      b. Disappearance
There is no information concerning disappearance.
c. Torture and Other Ciuel, Inhuman, or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment
Information is unavailable.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The extent of arbitiary arrest, detention, or exile is unknown.
With regard to forced or compulsory labor, see Section 6.c.
      e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
Current civil and criminal codes stipulate the right of the
accused to judicial process, a legal defense, and public trial
"except as stipulated by law." Closed proceedings are
permitted in the case of crimes against the State. The civil
code focuses on this category of crimes. A comprehensive
review of the legal code is currently underway.
      f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The right to privacy of person, home, and correspondence is
provided for in the Constitution, but little is knov^n about
the application of these rights by the authorities. Travel
and jot ind residence changes are decided by the State. The
State decides work assignments on the basis of work skills,
level of education, and loyalty to the Government.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution pro^ ides for freedom of speech but limits
this freedom by specifying that the exercise of individual
rights must be to "develop and consolidate the state system of
the MPR." Action.? deemed by tne MPRP to fall outside this
guideline may result in arrest and detention. According to
Freedom House, civil liberties are denied. Fundamental public
criticism of tne Government is not tolerated. Control of
political and social conduct is exercised through various
party and governmi=nt organizacions , inciuJing the Ministry of
Public Security and che local militia. Citizen volunteer
committees work with the militia to monitor social and
political conduct at the neighborhood level.
Public criticism is permitted in certain areas and on topics
approved by the Government, although this is often ritualistic
in nature. Letters published in the official press are a form
of managed criticism permitted by the Government. The press
serves largely as a propaganda tool, to provide governmentapproved
information to the populace. Representatives of
non-Communist foreign media are able to travel to Mongolia,
provided their trips are approved. Academic and artistic life
also is controlled in accordance with government policy.
Information flow is tightly monitored. Mongolian citizens
have little access to books, periodicals, or newspapers not
printed in Communist countries, but there are signs the
Government is permitting more exposure to some Western plays
and literature.
      b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of demonstration and assembly are provided for in the
Constitution, but in practice only government-authorized
organizations may assemble, and permitted demonstrations are
carefully orchestrated by government authorities.
For a discussion of freedom of association as it applies to
labor unions, see Section 6. a.
      c. Freedom of Religion
The Government controls religious activity through the Office
of Religious Affairs attached to the Council of Ministers.
This office works in close consultation with the showcase
Gandan monastery—the only monastery permitted to function.
The monastery houses approximately 200 monks. All other
monasteries have been closed since the 1930's. As a result,
Lamaist Buddhism, which was a central force in Mongolian life
prior to the establishment of the Communist Government, no
longer plays a significant part in the lives of most
Mongolians. However, rural people reportedly retain many
Buddhist beliefs privately. Vestiges of shamanism also remain.
In addition to the 200 monks at Gandan monastery, there are
reports of another 100 itinerant monks--loosely affiliated
with Gandan. Gandan monastery also runs a nominal religious
school on an extremely small scale--perhaps only two or three
new students each year. Mongolians who visit the Gandan
Monastery for worship are mostly of the older generation. Two
other monasteries are currently being restored as museums.
There are no mosques for the traditionally Islamic Kazakh
minority of 80,000 in western Mongolia. This group has been
permitted to retain cultural customs based on religious
background such as dress.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Freedom of travel and of residence is tightly controlled by
the Government. Until recent years, few Mongolians traveled
abroad, even to the Soviet Union. Foreign travel usually has
been permitted only for official purposes, but governmentsponsored
education abroad has become increasingly common. In
recent years, as many as 40,000 Mongolian youths have gone to
various places in the Soviet Union yearly for specialized
training programs. There has also been an increase in the
number of senior scholars pursuing extended study abroad,
although most foreign travel remains restricted to Soviet bloc
countries. Though overall figures remain small, increasing
numbers of Mongolians are permitted travel to the West for
official, academic, or cultural purposes. There is no known
routine emigration from Mongolia.
All Mongolians over age 16 must have internal passports and
must obtain permission from the Security Bureau in order to
travel within the country. Changes of residence or employment
must be approved by the Security Bureau and must accord with
central planning goals.
Although the 1960 Constitution assures the right "to reside in
the territory of the MPR" to foreign citizens, Mongolian
authorities in May 1983 began a systematic expulsion of the
6,000 to 7,000 ethnic Chinese. Most of the affected persons
resided in and around Ulaanbaatar and the families of many of
them had been living and working in Mongolia for several
generations. The Mongolian authorities claimed the expellees
had no formal occupation or did not abide by Mongolian law or
both. In line with the improvement of Sino-Mongolian
relations in recent years, Mongolia stopped the arbitrary
expulsion of ethnic Chinese in 1985; today Mongolia's Chinese
population numbers less than 2,000. Increasingly the
Mongolians are permitted to visit and be visited by ethnic
Mongolian relatives whose homes are in China. A bilateral
consular treaty regarding treatment of their nationals was
signed by Mongolia and China in July 1986.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens
to Change Their Government
Citizens do not have the right to change their government.
The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP) has a
monopoly on political power, and there is no institutionalized
mechanism by which the citizenry as a whole can effect
transitions in leadership or changes in government. The MPRP
is established on the Soviet model with a narrow pyramid of
power topped by General Secretary Batmonkh. Lower-ranking
members of the MPRP have very limited ability to influence the
decisions of their superiors. Elections are held at regular
intervals, but only one candidate is listed for each office,
so the choice is to vote for the candidate or cross the name
out. The 1986 election to the Great People's Hural brought
into office a large group of younger officials in their 40's.
In the 1986 election, 69.2 percent of all the deputies were
elected to the Great Hural for the first time. Many elections
reportedly result in a 99.9 percent turnout, and the sole
candidate regularly receives the entire vote.
From 1951 to 1986, the number of female deputies elected to
the Great Hural, which has 370 deputies, increased from 51 to
92. In 1987 elections to local Hurals, 33.9 percent of the
15,967 deputies elected were women. Few occupy
positions of responsibility in the Government or in party
structures, although women have served on the Presidium, the
acting legislative body between sessions of the Great Hural.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Mongolia acceded to the United Nations Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights in 1976. There is no known organization
dedicated to the protection of human rights in Mongolia.
There is no known request by an international human rights
group to investigate alleged human rights violations in
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Language, or Social Status
There appears to be little discrimination in education on the
basis of race, sex, or religion.
Universal franchise and equal rights for women are official
policy. According to government statistics, the percentage of
women in the work force rose from 30 to 48.5 percent between
1960 and 1984. Women constitute about 30 percent of the MPRP
membership and 49.8 percent of trade union membership. Women
also hold high professional positions in institutions such as
schools, research centers, and hospitals.
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
The right to organize professional associations and trade
unions is provided for in the Constitution, but it is
government controlled and directed. It is not known how such
organizations work in practice and whether trade unions have a
right to strike. According to Freedom House, all worker
committees are extensions of the MPRP. In the opinion of the
International Labor Organization (ILO), constitutional
provisions imply that no mass organizations, particularly
trade unions, have any possibility of working outside the
party framework. The ILO also notes that the Mongolian Labor
Code effectively prevents the formation of any independent
trade union organizations. All unions are grouped in the
Central Council of Mongolian Trade Unions (CCMTU) which itself
is an extension of the MPRP. The CCMTU is affiliated with the
World Federation of Trade Unions.
      b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
There is no specific provision for collective bargaining in
the labor law. However, local worker committees and people's
courts are empowered by the law to form "Commissions for Labor
Disputes" to settle labor grievances. Trade union council
representatives and enterprise managers are represented
equally on these commissions. It is not known how these
commissions function in actual practice.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
Whether forced labor is practiced is not known. Prisoners are
routinely assigned to varying work details or projects
according to a prison work plan.
      d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children
The law proscribes work for children under age 16, although
those aged 15 may work if allowed to by the local trade union
committee. Those under 18 are statutorily prohibited from
doing arduous work or from working in dangerous areas such as
mining. The workday is prescribed as 8 hours for adults, 7
hours for those aged 16 to 18, and 6 hours for those aged 15.
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The Mongolian Labor Law sets a minimum work age and maximum
work hours for all workers and exhorts state enterprises to
observe work safety requirements. The Labor Law provides that
"the monthly earnings of a worker or employee may not be lower
than the minimum amount of earnings established by the
state." No information is available on the implementation of
the labor law in this area.