5 human rights violations ignored by Parliament

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Local and international organizations holds an open house for Human Rights Day at Sukhbaatar Square
Local and international organizations holds an open house for Human Rights Day at Sukhbaatar Square

Like many other countries, Mongolia observed Human Rights Day on December 10, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all. The principles enshrined in the declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. The declaration is a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Commemorating Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Director General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay proclaimed, “Once again in our time, human rights are under threat. Across the world, we see how easily they can be swept aside by dehumanizing stereotypes and the rise of intolerant discourse. Conflict, violent extremism and natural disasters can cause chaos, undermining the rights of the most vulnerable in society. Emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, also must be developed with full respect for human rights. We must remain ever vigilant that the progress made in the past 70 years is maintained, and UNESCO will continue to play its role being the leading international laboratory of ideas to tackle these challenges.”

Calling on individuals to stand up for equality, justice and human dignity, the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia (NHRC) organized an array of measures along with civil societies and other organizations.

Human rights in Mongolia

Head of NHRC J.Byambadorj remarked, “Mongolia is taking the lead with its commitment to international human rights instruments. It is also the one of the first 10 countries to ratify 17 of the 18 Core International Human Rights Instruments.

Our country has established a system to protect human rights, but we’re still faced with serious human rights violations, especially violence against women and girls and discrimination. The efforts of state-owned human rights organizations, social organizations, and individuals haven’t been as fruitful as we’d hoped.” 

Nevertheless, NHRC continues to protect human rights. It has begun carrying out the “Renewing Mother Earth: Sustainable Development Goals 2030” document with the objective to create a unified community that adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and where nobody is discriminated, everybody is involved, benefits equally, and doesn’t suffer.
“In the remaining 12 years, we, Mongolians, must think, initiate and take action faster than ever before,” J.Byambadorj encouraged. 

Member of NHRC P.Oyunchimeg said, “Although we’re good at talking and criticizing, we’re not taking any action. Living in a healthy and safe environment is a very general idea but simply put, it determines whether or not we can stay alive.”

The local system to incorporate international human rights instruments into legislation and practice is poor. Many human rights advocators believe it’s time to address not only domestic violence, child abuse and violence against women and girls but also violence against men. There is an underlying need to improve transparency of issues related to violence of all forms in rural settlements as many violence-related offenses are kept unreported. 

Last year, 198 children sustained injuries due to abuse, but this figure nearly doubled in the last 11 months, reaching 345 children. This is an indication that the detection of crimes has improved significantly since a child protection and crime prevention division was established earlier this year. As many specialists have repeatedly emphasized, violence of all forms in all settings can be eliminated if individuals change their attitude toward violence and related organizations stimulate their anti-violence operations. 

To improve transparency and anti-violence activities, P.Oyunchimeg advised hospitals and the police to interlink their information networks, and law enforcement agencies to adjust its operations based on statistical results of government organizations. 

NHRC says that it has submitted the 17th annual report on the “Situation of Human Rights and Freedoms in Mongolia” to Parliament. The report includes five chapters with the following topics: “Right to healthy and safe environment: Implementation of environmental laws and public participation”, “Some issues of human rights in relation to urban planning”, “Some issues concerning implementation of the right to compensation”, “Some issues concerning labor rights of specialized inspection personnel working in border ports”, and “Implementation of recommendations of Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council”.

In the report, the commission identified the five most serious human rights violations in Mongolia and endorsed 16 recommendations Parliament should enforce immediately. The report stressed the need to resolve issues related to the right to live in a healthy and safe environment, improve standards on mining operations and reduce its harmful effects to human health and environment, create a law that regulates rehabilitation activities of mining companies, and combat air, water and soil pollutions which are seriously endangering the lives of locals. 

Another issue the report covered was the poor law implementation. 

“The government should implement measures specified in regulation aimed to develop urban and rural areas and enhance infrastructure without delay, regularly report on such activities, and introduce modern technological solutions for clean water distribution and industrial use of grey water in operations,” said J.Byambadorj.

Special focus put on protection of rights of women and girls

NHRC announced that it has decided to partner with the Mongolian Women's Association on the protection of rights of women and girls for the next three years. 

The memorandum of cooperation was signed by Head of NHRC J.Byambadorj and President of the Mongolian Women's Association B.Oyungerel on December 10.

At the signing ceremony, participants said that, gender-based violence, sexual abuse and violation of reproductive rights of women and girls have become a serious issue in Mongolia. 

NHRC reported that it has conducted a survey on the sexual and reproductive health rights of teenage girls and girls living with disabilities and recently launched advocacy activities with support from the United Nations Development Programme. The commission is also organizing workshops on human rights and collaborating with law enforcement agencies to combat gender-based violence. 

J.Byambadorj believes the new partnership with the Mongolian Women's Association will make it easier to reach target women and girls who are in need of protection.

‘Increase Immunity of Rights – Protect Your Rights Too’

On Human Rights Day, local and international human rights organizations held an open house at Sukhbaatar Square under the theme “Increase Immunity of Rights – Protect Your Rights Too” to encourage people to stand up for equality, justice and human dignity.

Due to lack of knowledge and awareness about human rights, many people aren’t able to enjoy their rights and/ or violate other people’s rights, disrupting the harmonious community. In an effort to change this situation, human rights organizations came together to help people become aware of their rights, share useful information, help voice out people’s concerns, and provide other assistance. 

In addition to introducing their operations, organizations shared about the significance of Human Rights Day, its goal, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and ways people can stand up for their rights.

Experts underlined, “No matter who you are, everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Every individual should be standing up for their human rights not only on Human Rights Day but every day. There are many ways you can make a difference no matter how small your contribution is, starting from writing a post on your social media to demonstrating to alert people of their rights. We just need to make an effort to create a more humane world.

Dulguun Bayarsaikhan