Legal status of associations discussed

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During its plenary session on January 6, Parliament reviewed a bill on the Legal Status of Associations, which was submitted by the government on November 24, 2021.

Speaker of Parliament G.Zandanshatar gave a five-day break for the discussion of the bill afterthe Mongolian People’s Party (MPP) caucus in Parliament requested it.

Chairman of the caucus D.Togtokhsuren said that due to a large number of comments and proposals made by lawmakers, the MPP caucus needs more time to review them.

Professional associations with official membership and public legal entities performing public functions shall be separated from the unified organizations on a voluntary basis in accordance with the bill. The bill stipulates that in addition to clearly defining their purposes in their rules, associations should explain the direction of their activities in accordance with the International Classification of Nonprofit Organizations, and specify their funds.

It states that if associations are engaged in public benefit activities and enjoy tax exemptions, they must submit financial and tax activity reports to the relevant authorities.

During the session, lawmaker Sh.Radnaased mentioned that upon passage of the bill, non-governmental organizations would operate for the benefit of the public. It reflects that non-governmental organizations will also protect the interests of minorities and not be allowed to participate in political activities. However, he sees the provision on “protecting the interests of minorities” as purely political.

He added, “Around 2008, the Association of Elderly People organized a demonstration, demanding pension raise. Then the Association of Students took part in. They threw stones at the east side of the State Palace and smashed all the windows. It was a political activity under the guise of a non-governmental organization. Moreover, there are many associations whose activities overlap. For example, there are two associations for horse trainers. The bill does not reflect provisions regulating such issues.”

Head of Legal Policy Department of the Ministry of Justice and Internal Affairs P.Sainzorig explained, “The issue of protecting the interests of minorities concerns many minority groups in society. It has been suggested that activities aimed at the protection of sexual minorities may be considered a community service. Moreover, it is not possible to restrict a person’s constitutional right to associate.”

“This law on NGOs has been under discussion for the last five years. We use the name of the NGO. Originally, 20 years ago, the terms 'foundation' and 'association' were included in the Civil Code, but they have been misused for 20 years. A country with a strong civil society organization has strong ‘immunity’. MPP needs to strongly support civil organizations when it has an absolute majority in Parliament,” parliamentarian B.Enkhbayar said.

Member of Parliament Ts.Munkh-Orgil stressed that it is not possible to include all proposals in the bill. He noted that NGOs are doing their best to contribute to social development without government support.

Misheel Lkhasuren