Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1989

The Mongolian People's Republic (MPR) is a highly centralized
Communist state, in which the Mongolian People's Revolutionary
Party (MPRP) , the 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, though there are recent signs that the top
leadership is sanctioning movement toward reform of the party
and government. The Politburo of the MPRP Central Committee,
headed by Jambyn Batmonkh, rules. Nominally, the People's
Great Hural, or National Assembly, enacts laws, but it
faithfully carries out the policies of the MPRP leadership.
However, the Great Hural has recently shown signs of movement
toward increased openness in criticizing government practices.
It meets for 3 days once a 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 the
political influence of the U.S.S.R. is great. While two
Soviet Army divisions were recently withdrawn, a significant
military presence remains, as do thousands of civilian Soviet
advisers and technicians. A Mongolian version of perestroika
(restructuring) and glasnost (openness) has begun; changes
along these lines have been noted. Consistent with this
policy. Chairman Batmonkh and other leaders have publicly
criticized political abuses of the past and called for
political and economic reform. Contact with and interest in
the non-Socialist countries is increasing.
The Mongolian security apparatus functions under the direction
of the Council of Ministers in accord with the Constitution.
The primary body with responsibility for state and public
security is the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). It
oversees subordinate bodies, including the Central Militia
Office and the network of local police departments. In
addition, the MPS administers the State Security
Administration, which is responsible for counterintelligence
and internal political security. The MPS also oversees the
Border and Internal Troop Administration, which performs
customs and immigration control, and border security duties.
In keeping with recent indications that a high-level political
review is under way in the Government of past policies and
practices, the MPS has stated publicly that it is reevaluating
its responsibilities, which will now include "establishing
reliable guarantees against permitting any kind of illegal
encroachments on human rights in the future...." There is
little information yet to assess MPS policy changes in this
Mongolian economic life is dominated by the U.S.S.R. and
shaped by its trade, approximately 95 percent of which is
conducted with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Soviet
involvement in the economy primarily focuses on the mining of
nonferrous metals that are subsequently shipped to the
U.S.S.R. for processing. Mongolia is now making efforts to
diversify international trade with non-Socialist nations.
Despite increasing industrialization and urbanization, a
majority of the population is engaged in agriculture, 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 limited. Until
recently, there were no known domestic opposition groups.
However, on the eve of the Party's Seventh Plenum, a new group
surf aced--the Mongolian Democratic Association, composed of
students and intellectuals. Two demonstrations by this group
which were critical of current and past government practices
were permitted by the authorities; banners calling for
multiparty elections, an end to bureaucratic privileges, and a
more market-oriented economy were displayed.
Individual civil and political liberties are highly
restricted. Though the numbers are increasing, few Mongolians
are authorized to travel outside of Socialist countries.
Emigres from Mongolia are few. Political opposition to the
MPRP has recently been permitted, though the extent of the
party's control over this opposition remains unknown.
Freedoms promised under the Constitution, including speech,
religion, demonstration, and assembly, have been severely
restricted in the past, but there are now signs that the
authorities are relaxing these policies. The Party's official
daily recently published a lead editorial calling for
guarantees of human rights, including elections, and
"large-scale renewal" to ensure rights and freedoms.
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
      a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There are no indications in recent years of political or
extrajudicial killings.
      b. Disappearance
There are no indications in recent years of disappearance due
to political persecution.
      c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Information is unavailable on this subject.
      d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Government recently acknowledged that political arrests
and detention occurred in the 1930 's and has published
numerous official criticisms of those policies as violations
of human rights. In keeping with recent signs of increased
government openness in criticizing abuses of the 1930 "s and
1940's, the Minister of Public Security stated publicly that
his ministry is now "directing its activities at
rehabilitating honest citizens repressed during that period,
at establishing reliable guarantees against permitting any
kind of illegal encroachments on human rights in the future,
and cooperating with corresponding organizations in this
matter." The current extent of arbitrary arrest, detention,
or exile is unknown. There is little information available
yet on the practical effect of these new policy directives on
the Ministry of Public Security apparatus.
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.
      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 known about
the application of these rights by the authorities. Job and
residence changes must be approved by the State. The State
also plays a role in finding or assigning jobs.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
      a. Freedom of Speech and Press
These freedoms have been tightly circumscribed. The
Constitution provides 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." Actions deemed by the MPRP to fall outside this
guideline may result in arrest and detention. Various party
and government organizations, including the Ministry of Public
Security and the local militia, control political and social
conduct. Citizen volunteer committees work with the militia
to monitor social and political conduct at the neighborhood
Prior to the institution of Mongolian-style glasnost and
perestroika, fundamental public criticism of the Government
was not permitted. In late 1988, however, for the first time
a limited amount of direct criticism of past and present party
and government leaders, and of the Soviet Union, was carried
in public media. Letters published in the official press are
a form of managed criticism permitted by the Government. The
government-approved press serves largely as a propaganda
tool. Recent practice indicates that representatives of
non-Communist foreign media are able to travel to Mongolia.
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, until recently, only government-authorized
organizations were permitted. Demonstrations are generally
carefully orchestrated by government authorities, but the
extent of government involvement in two demonstrations by the
new Mongolian Democratic Association in December 1989 is
unknown. Demonstrators--mostly students and intellectuals
expressed criticism of past and current government practices,
called for plural elections, a more market-oriented economy,
intensification of perestroika and glasnost, and an end to
special privileges for government officials.
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, 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 100 itinerant monks—loosely affiliated with
Gandan. Gandan also runs a nominal religious school on a
small scale. Mongolians who regularly visit the Gandan
Monastery for worship are mostly of the older generation, but
there are signs of resurgent interest in religion among
Mongolian youth. Two other monasteries are being restored as
museums. During 1989 the traditional Mongolian script, long
suppressed in favor of Cyrillic, has been revived and is
taught in schools and on television. The destruction of
lamaseries in the 1930's has been criticized for excessive
brutality. Lunar New Year celebrations, carrying Buddhist
associations, were permitted in the cities in 1989 for the
first time in decades. Such developments appear to evidence a
modestly increased toleration of Buddhist and other
traditional practices. 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, such as dress, based on religious background.
      d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
Travel within the country does not appear to be as restricted
as in the past, but residence changes must be approved by the
authorities. 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.
In general, few Mongolians have traveled abroad, even to the
Soviet Union. In recent years, however, as many as several
thousand Mongolian youths have gone to various places in the
Soviet Union yearly for specialized programs. There has also
been an increase in the number of senior scholars pursuing
extended study abroad. Most foreign travel remains restricted
to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. 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, but there are also no indications that many people
wish to emigrate.
Although the 1960 Constitution assures the right "to reside in
the territory of the MPR" to foreign citizens, the Government
in 1983 began a systematic expulsion of the 6,000 to 7,000
ethnic Chinese. With the improvement of Sino-Mongolian
relations in recent years, Mongolia stopped expelling ethnic
Chinese in 1985; today the Chinese population numbers less
than 2,000. Increasingly, 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 established
mechanis;n 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 Party General Secretary Batmonkh. Lower
ranking members of the MPRP have had very limited ability to
influence the decisions of their superiors, but recent signs
indicate that the top leadership has sanctioned movement
toward decentralization of decisionmaking within the party.
People's Great Hural delegates, for example, are becoming more
outspoken on party policies. During a December 1989 session.
Great Hural delegates called for accelerated economic reform
and criticized "bureaucratism" in the Government and the
special privileges of high officials.
Elections are held at regular intervals, but only one
candidate has been listed for each office, so the choice has
been to vote for the candidate or cross the name out. Many
elections reportedly result in a 99.9 percent turnout, and the
sole candidate regularly receives the entire vote. However,
reforms announced in December 1988 called for the institution
of some elections with multiple candidates at all levels.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
No organization dedicated to the protection of human rights in
Mongolia is known to exist. There has been no known request
by an international human rights group to investigate alleged
human rights violations in Mongolia.
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.
Government policy is to promote equal rights for women.
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, and
some hold high professional positions in institutions such as
schools, research centers, and hospitals.
At present, there is no information to indicate a significant
incidence of societal violence against women. The extent to
which family violence, including wife beating, may occur is
unknown. Article 84 of the Constitution expressly calls for
equal rights for women in all sociopolitical spheres and
prohibits the "impairment of v;omen's equality in any form
whatsoever." In particular, the law provides for specific
protections for women with children and special assistance for
women during pregnancy and after childbirth. Because Mongolia
remains an underpopulated country with just over 2 million
inhabitants, official desire to increase the population is
Section 6 Worker Rights
      a. The Right of Association
Workers do not have the right to form and join unions of their
own choosing. The right to organize professional associations
and trade unions is provided for in the Constitution, but
these are government controlled and directed. It is not known
how such organizations work in practice, whether trade unions
have a right to strike, and whether any strikes took place in
1989. All worker committees are reportedly extensions of the
MPRP. However, there have been confirmed cases of direct
elections of plant or factory directors, and reports of labor
resistance to overbearing party interference in technical
matters of production. 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 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 Communist-controlled 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 grievances. Trade union council
representatives and enterprise managers are represented
equally on these commissions. It is not known how these
comrrdssions function in actual practice. Information whether
export processing zones exist is not available.
      c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
It is not known if forced or compulsory labor is practiced or
prohibited by law.
      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
      e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The Mongolian Labor Law sets maximum work hours for all
workers and exhorts state enterprises to observe work safety
requirements. The workday is prescribed as 8 hours for
adults, 7 hours for those aged 16 to 18, and 6 hours for those
aged 15. 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 labor law in this area or
of the effectiveness of health and safety standards set by the