Was it worth it?

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It is now not necessary to explain how the MPP won another landslide victory in the recent Mongolian parliamentary elections. However, what we should be discussing more about the upcoming four years, what it will look like from recent events that set the precedence for what is to come. In this article, I would like to present an analytical point of view on this matter from a human rights perspective.

What actual and potential human rights violations has the government of Mongolia or in other words, the ruling party, MPP committed?

The most recent potential human right’s violation we all have witnessed is that the authorities let a young Mongolian woman and a Mongolian male driver stay in no-man’s-land for two days, refusing to let them enter their home country. And the best excuse that they came up with after two days of hard work is that they had to check how she, the young woman, had crossed the borders of Russia, Director General of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs L.Munkhtushig said. The student travelled by herself with whatever means available all the way from the Czech Republic since the government’s efforts to bring back its citizens from abroad due to COVID-19 has been dismally slow.

When a large number of Mongolians were demanding the authorities to let her in, the reason why she is stuck is in no-man’s-land between Mongolia and Russia was said to be that the customs authorities refused to let her in and told her to go back to Russia. Whilst the authenticity of this explanation may be in question, no reasonable man in Mongolia would be surprised if this explanation was authentic as the government has set an indefinite border closure in mid-March 2020.

We perhaps need to remind L.Munkhtushig that our Constitution prohibits him from extraditing and exiling Mongolian citizens to any other country in any case:

“Article 15.2 of the Constitution of Mongolia Deprivation of Mongolian citizenship, exile and extradition of citizens of Mongolia shall be prohibited.”

He also mentioned that the Russians warned (them) that crossing Russian borders illegally is a crime punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Even if the young Mongolian woman had crossed the border of Russia illegally, under no circumstances do the Mongolian authorities have the right to refuse entry to its own citizen. Furthermore, according to the territorial theory in the Criminal Code, which states that criminal jurisdiction depends upon the place of perpetration, hence it obviously is not within the power of Mongolian officials to determine whether or not she crossed another country's border illegally. I hope it would not be necessary to mention that the territorial theory is applied in the Criminal Code of Mongolia.

Another very clear example of human rights violations would be the decisions issued by the State Emergency Commission (SEC) and the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar respectively on July 1 and June 30. By their decision, they have violated a constitutional right, including the right to peaceful demonstration and meetings. The SEC and mayor have ordered mayors of districts not to accept any request from anyone to organize any kind of meeting, including peaceful gatherings and protests. How it violates citizens' right to freedom of thought is that according to the Law on Organizing Gatherings and Protests, one who is organizing such activity must submit their request to organize to the mayor of the district, who then gets to decide whether to allow it.

On the other hand, according to the Constitution, the citizens of Mongolia shall be guaranteed the privilege to enjoy “freedom of thought, free expression of opinion, speech, press, peaceful demonstration and meetings. Procedures for organizing demonstrations and other assemblies shall be determined by law,” (Article 16.16).

If we follow this pattern of quiet “abusive” attitude against human rights, it started even before the election. For example, the arguably illegal imprisonments that we have witnessed with our very own eyes before and after the election would be clear examples. It at the very least lacks transparency, which makes it difficult for us, the citizens of Mongolia, to be sure about whether or not justice was actually delivered. Transparency is a key to our democracy and a key to faith in our judiciary.

One example of this which I could be quite certain is the indictment against former prosecutor G.Erdenebat on the basis of Article 251.1 of Criminal Code of Mongolia /2002/.

“251.1. Forcing of testimony by an inquirer or investigator by duress, violence, torture, humiliation, deception or other illegal methods shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of up to five years with or without deprivation of the right to hold specified positions or engage in specified business for a term of up to three years.”

In other words, the court found him guilty, which could be committed only by an inquirer or investigator.

Thus, the reasons to believe that it was not a fair judgement are that (i) it most likely breached “grounds and rules of retroactive application of the Criminal Code”, which is regulated by Article 12 of the Criminal Code (2002) and in Article 1.9 of the Criminal Code (2015), and (ii) it also most likely breached “Principle of Legality”, which is regulated in Article 3 of the Criminal Code (2002) and in Article 1.2 of the Criminal Code (2015).

The reason why it leaves us many unanswered questions is again the issue of not being transparent. In most cases, this issue of not being transparent arises when there are things to hide. And when the authorities have things to hide, most likely there will be human rights violations. Is this just a beginning of a gradual undermining of human rights in Mongolia? If so, was it worth giving the MPP another landslide victory?

Myagmardorj Buyanjargal
Myagmardorj is a freelance writer and certified translator who holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from the National University of Mongolia and Bachelor of Science Degree in engineering in mining technology from the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.