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TITLE: MONGOLIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACATICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995









                            MONGOLIA


During 1994 Mongolia showed steady--if sometimes 
uneven--progress in its transition from a highly centralized 
Communist-led state toward a full-fledged multiparty 
democracy.  The Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP), 
the lineal descendent of the former ruling Communist party, 
dominates the unicameral legislature.  In 1992 parliamentary 
elections, the MPRP garnered 71 of the 76 seats in the State 
Great Hural (SGH), even though opposition parties received over 
40 percent of the popular vote.  Owing to this imbalance, a 
lingering sense of disenfranchisement continues among the 
political opposition.  The Prime Minister is nominated by the 
President and approved by the SGH.  The President and Prime 
Minister together nominate cabinet officers, who must also 
receive SGH approval.

Security forces remain under civilian control.  The Mongolian 
military continued its downsizing in 1994.  The newly named and 
reorganized Mongolian Central Intelligence Agency (MCIA) is 
responsible for internal security.  Its head has ministerial 
status and reports directly to the Prime Minister.  There were 
no reports of human rights abuses by the MCIA during the year.

The economy continued to progress steadily, if unevenly.  
Despite increasing industrialization and urbanization, a large 
portion of the population is still engaged in agriculture, with 
an emphasis on livestock raising and related light industry.  
After decades of nearly total dependency on the former Soviet 
Union, Mongolia is increasing its trade with other countries 
and making the difficult transition to a market economy.  The 
new Constitution lays the groundwork for this transition by 
establishing the right to private property and to conduct 
private commercial activity.  A shortage of capital and a 
slowdown in economic growth constrained reform efforts.

The human rights record remains generally good.  Human rights 
problems included the lack of laws to codify human rights 
provisions contained in the Constitution, occasional violence 
against prisoners and detainees by security forces, lack of 
access to defense attorneys for pretrial detainees, monitoring 
of telephone lines by security forces, some limitations on 
access to government-owned media, and violence against women.  
A short, bitter strike at a major joint venture textile company 
emphasized the still problematic status of labor law in this 
rapidly changing country, the necessity for clarifying workers' 
rights, and the need for new industrial safety legislation.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated abductions or 
disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution forbids these abuses.  However, there were 
credible reports that police and prison officials sometimes 
beat and otherwise physically abuse prisoners and detainees.  
Mongolian detention facilities are Spartan, and conditions in 
them--including insufficient food and heating--may on occasion 
pose a threat to the health of detainees.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution provides that no person shall be searched, 
arrested, detained, or deprived of liberty except by law, but 
these protections have not been codified.  Under the Legal 
Code, police may arrest those caught committing a crime and 
hold them for up to 72 hours without a warrant.  A warrant must 
be issued by a prosecutor for incarceration of longer duration, 
or when the actual crime was not witnessed.  A detainee has no 
statutory right under the current Code to see an attorney, and 
defense attorneys are routinely denied access to their clients 
before trial.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The courts system consists of local ("people's") courts, 
provincial courts, a Constitutional Court, and the Supreme 
Court.  The courts are independent, and there is no evidence 
that they discriminate against any group or that decisions are 
made for political reasons.

The Supreme Court is at the apex of the judicial system; its 
members, appointed for 4-year terms, hear appeals from lower 
courts.  The local courts hear mostly routine criminal and 
civil cases; provincial courts hear the more serious cases, 
including those of murder, rape, and grand larceny, and also 
serve as the appeals court for local court decisions.  The 
President nominates, and the SGH approves, justices to the 
Supreme Court for 4-year terms.  Lower court judges are chosen 
by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, based on the 
recommendation of the members of the Supreme Court, for 4-year 
terms also.

All accused persons are guaranteed due process, legal defense, 
and a public trial, although closed proceedings are permitted 
in cases involving crimes against the State, rape cases 
involving minors, and particularly brutal murders.

The Constitutional Court has sole jurisdiction in matters 
involving constitutional issues, and in corruption and other 
criminal charges levied against high government officials.  In 
late summer, after a lengthy investigation the court charged 
well-known opposition Member of Parliament Elbegdorj with 
having revealed state secrets in a public speech.  Elbegdorj 
was acquitted of all charges in a 1-day closed trial.  Both he 
and some of his supporters contend that the charges and 
subsequent trial constituted harassment for his political views.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The Constitution provides that the State shall not interfere 
with the private beliefs and actions of citizens, and this is 
generally respected.  The head of the MCIA may, with the 
knowledge and consent of the Prime Minister, direct the 
monitoring and recording of telephone conversations.  The 
extent of such monitoring is unknown.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for the rights of freedom of speech 
and expression, and the Government generally respects them.

A growing range of newspapers and other publications represent 
major political party viewpoints as well as independent views.  
Although in the past the Government controlled access to 
newsprint, all newspapers now buy newsprint directly from 
private suppliers, and neither party-affiliated nor independent 
media report difficulty securing an adequate supply.  The 
Government now plays no role in the allocation of newsprint.  
Due to transportation difficulties, uneven postal service, and 
the fluctuations in the amount of newsprint available, however, 
in outlying regions access to publications is somewhat 
restricted.

In April, after several months of charges and countercharges of 
corruption by both opposition and progovernment forces, the 
Mongolian Democratic Union (MDU) called for a hunger strike in 
Ulaanbaatar's central square.  Reminiscent of a similar MDU 
action that had helped spark the prodemocracy movement in 1990, 
the 2-week action drew the support of several opposition 
political parties and others concerned about basic social and 
economic issues.  President Ochirbat helped mediate an end to 
the strike with a promise to introduce new legislation 
codifying the constitutional right of free expression.  The 
strike and a counterstrike by government supporters, ended when 
the three parties represented in Parliament agreed to discuss 
new legislation dealing with press freedom and the rights of 
assembly.  As the year ended, such legislation was still in the 
drafting stage.

There is a single, government-financed television station with 
countrywide reception, as well as several radio stations.  The 
latter are particularly important as the major sources of 
current news in the countryside.  Government-financed 
television and radio stations report both opposition and 
government views.  In response to a 1993 threat by opposition 
political forces to leave the Hural (Parliament), the 
Government briefly granted opposition parties limited access to 
both broadcast and print media.  Revocation of this access was 
one of the factors leading to the 2-week-long hunger strike 
discussed above.

Academic freedom is evident, although there continues to be a 
shortage of teaching materials.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for peaceful assembly and 
association, and this is generally respected in practice.  An 
additional cause of the April hunger strike, however, was the 
first reported denial of a meeting permit by police forces, 
whichopposition forces claimed was made on political grounds.  
The President promised to introduce legislation delineating 
these rights, and clarified that the permit process is a public 
order and safety measure, not a means of controlling the 
expression of political criticism.  By year's end, no 
legislation had been passed.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides only for the right both to worship 
and not to worship and explicitly recognizes the separation of 
church and state.

However, the Constitution's provision for regulation of church 
and state relations led to the passage in late 1993 of a law 
that appeared to make distinctions between the three 
"traditional" Mongolian belief systems--i.e., Buddhism, Islam, 
and Shamanism--and all others.  The three most discriminatory 
provisions of the law were struck down by the Constitutional 
Court in January.  The decision left intact several provisions 
which could lead to abuse of the freedom of religion.  The most 
controversial are the provision that allows the State to 
supervise and limit, if it desires to do so, the number of 
priests, monks, and other religious authorities, as well as the 
locations of individual religious establishments, and the 
provision  recognizing the "predominant" or "preeminent" place 
of Buddhism in Mongolia.  The law prohibits the use of 
state-owned buildings for religious purposes in a country where 
most buildings are state owned.  Nevertheless, since the 
decision, several Christian churches have successfully 
registered and found places to worship.  Except for a single, 
unconfirmed charge of discrimination levied by one 
congregation, there is no credible evidence that the Government 
has used this law or any other to limit or interfere with 
religious freedom.  Proselytizing is allowed, although a 
Ministry of Education directive bans the mixing of foreign 
language or other training with religious teaching or 
instruction.  Contacts with coreligionists outside the country 
are allowed.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Citizens move freely within the country and may change their 
workplace and residence without government restriction.  The 
Government does not arbitrarily restrict travel abroad.  There 
have been no reports of forced expulsion of those having a 
valid claim to refugee status.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides citizens the right to change their 
government through periodic, free elections via secret ballot, 
with universal suffrage.  However, as noted above, the 
plurality-takes-all election law, combined with a multiplicity 
of candidates in each constituency, led to an overwhelming MPRP 
victory in the 1992 elections.  The MPRP, the successor party 
to the Communist party that controlled political life in 
Mongolia for 70 years, dominates a unicameral chamber (70 of 76 
seats), even though opposition party candidates won more than 
40 percent of the popular vote.  They have consistently 
complained that the current SGH composition does not reflect 
the will of the electorate.

Several new political parties were formed in 1994, bringing the 
recognized total to 19.

There are no legal impediments to the participation of women in 
government and politics, but they are underrepresented in the 
highest levels of government and the judiciary.  Although there 
are significant numbers of women in various midlevel ministry 
positions, there are no women in the Cabinet or in either the 
Supreme or Constitutional Courts, and only three in the 
legislature.  Underrepresentation of women at the highest 
levels of government and the professions has several causes, 
including tradition and some degree of discrimination by the 
virtually all-male web of leadership.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

In late 1994 the Human Rights Committee, which was founded in 
1990, merged with two smaller human rights groups to become a 
local affiliate of Amnesty International.  They continued to 
operate without government restriction.

The Government welcomed visits by representatives of several 
international human rights organizations, and a representative 
of the International Committee of the Red Cross is resident in 
Mongolia.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution states that "...no person shall be 
discriminated against on the basis of ethnic origin, language, 
race, age, sex, social origin, or status" and that "men and 
women shall be equal in political, economic, social, cultural 
fields, and family affairs."

     Women

Women comprise about half the work force, and a significant 
number are the primary earners for their families.  By law and 
practice, women receive equal pay for equal work and have equal 
access to education.  They comprise a majority of the work 
force in the legal and medical professions and are well 
represented in middle-level management of government, 
education, and research institutions.  Growing numbers of women 
are involved in the creation and management of private 
companies such as trading and manufacturing.  Women are, 
however, almost totally absent from the highest ranks of 
government and the professions.

There is growing public discussion of domestic violence, 
including spousal and child abuse, after many years of 
government and societal denial.  The large economic and 
societal changes under way have created new stresses on the 
family, including loss of jobs, inflation, and lowered spending 
for social and educational programs.  These factors, coupled 
with the serious problems caused by extremely high rates of 
alcohol abuse, have led to increased instances of abuse and 
abandonment and added to the ranks of single-parent families, 
most of which are headed by women.  There is no known police or 
government intervention in cases involving violence against 
women beyond prosecution under existing assault laws when 
formal charges are filed.

     Children

Increased stress on the family structure and in society has had 
direct effects on many children.  There are growing numbers of 
infants and small children orphaned by maternal deaths and 
desertion, and in the major urban centers, particularly 
Ulaanbaatar, growing numbers of street children.  The 
Government is committed in principle to children's rights and 
welfare, but lacks the resources to go beyond minimal support 
for shelters and programs which require additional private 
donations to operate.  The few orphanages and shelters are hard 
pressed to accommodate all the children who need temporary or 
permanent placement and to raise sufficient funds from 
government and private sources to sustain their activities.  It 
appears difficult for many Mongolians--reared in a culture that 
values children and in which extended families and multiple 
caregivers have always been the rule--to recognize or admit the 
gravity of this relatively new problem.

     People with Disabilities

People with disabilities receive government benefits according 
to the nature and severity of the disability; those who have 
been injured in industrial accidents have the right to be 
reemployed when ready to resume work.  The Government also 
provides tax benefits to enterprises which hire the disabled, 
and some firms do so exclusively.  There is no government 
legislation mandating access for the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution entitles all workers to form or join union and 
professional organizations of their own choosing.  Union 
officials estimate that the combined membership in all unions 
now totals over 470,000, close to half of the work force.  
During 1994 there was a government-mandated registration of all 
workers' organizations, and almost 600 separate unions were 
recognized.  Most of these are affiliated with the Mongolian 
Trade Unions Confederation (MTUC), formerly a part of the MPRP, 
but now officially separate.  The newer Association of Free 
Trades Unions (AFTU) has a growing number of affiliates.  Both 
organizations are developing contacts with international labor 
organizations and confederations in other countries.  
Membership figures may be rather unreliable as many companies 
and institutions undergo privatization and restructuring and as 
many workers change occupations.  There are no arbitrary 
restrictions on who may be a union official; such officers are 
elected by secret ballot.

Union members, with the exceptions of civil servants and 
employees in essential services, have the right to strike.  The 
Government defines essential services as those critical for 
national defense and safety, including police, employees of 
power plants, water works, public transportation, public 
communications, and certain railway employees.  Articles 6 and 
7 of the Law of Labor Conflict Resolution state that the court 
can punish organizers if it finds the strike was illegal 
because either the industry was an essential service or there 
was "insufficient cause" for the strike.  A strike at a major 
joint venture textile company ended in a court ruling that 
failed to clarify this provision or other aspects of the 
country's labor code.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Amendments to the existing Labor Law passed in 1993 provide for 
collective bargaining, but its current application remains 
unclear.  In theory, wage levels and other employment issues 
are decided in tripartite contract negotiations between 
employer, union, and government representatives; the 
Government's role is limited to ensuring that the contract 
meets legal requirements as to hours and conditions of work.  
In practice, wages and other conditions of employment still are 
set mainly by the employer whether that employer is a private 
firm or the Government.  Most industrial concerns have now been 
privatized, although the Government still controls some major 
infrastructure enterprises, including mines and the 
communications system.

There are no export processing zones in Mongolia.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law specifically prohibits forced or compulsory labor.  
However, virtually all of the military forces are required to 
help with the fall harvest.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law prohibits children under the age of 16 from working, 
although those age 14 and 15 may do so with parental consent.  
Those under 18 years of age may not work at night, engage in 
arduous work, or work in dangerous occupations, such as mining 
and construction.  Enforcement of these prohibitions, as well 
as all other labor regulations, is the responsibility of state 
labor inspectors assigned to regional and local offices.  These 
inspectors have the authority to order and, reportedly, compel 
immediate compliance with labor legislation.  Enforcement is 
limited due to the small number of labor inspectors who must 
monitor a growing number of small enterprises.

A significant number of children continue to leave school early 
to work, both in the cities and in the countryside.  In rural 
areas, this appears to be partly attributable to the closure of 
some schools and a growing shortage of teachers; the children 
often leave to help care for newly privatized herds.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

In September the minimum wage was raised to about $0.12 (33 
tugriks) per hour, or approximately $25.00 a month.  This level 
applies to public sector employees only, and it is enforced by 
the Ministry of Population Policy and Labor.  However, this is 
the lowest wage for manual labor, such as janitorial work, and 
virtually all civil servants make more than this amount.  Those 
employed in private businesses generally earn considerably 
more.  The minimum wage alone is insufficient to provide a 
decent standard of living for a worker and his family.

Labor law sets the standard legal workweek at 46 hours and 
establishes a minimum rest period of 42 hours between 
workweeks.  For those under 18 years of age, the workweek is 36 
hours, and overtime work is not allowed.  Time off is given 
equal to the number of overtime hours worked or, by law, 
compensated at double the standard hourly rate.  Pregnant women 
and nursing mothers are prohibited by law from working 
overtime.

Laws on labor, cooperatives, and enterprises set occupational 
health and safety standards, and the Ministry of Population 
Policy and Labor provides enforcement.  According to the Labor 
Law, workers have the right to remove themselves from dangerous 
work situations and still retain their jobs.  Mongolia's near 
total reliance on outmoded machinery and continuing problems 
with management and maintenance lead to frequent industrial 
accidents, particularly in the mining, power, and construction 
sectors.  Effective enforcement of existing occupational health 
and safety standards is difficult because the Labor Ministry 
has only 37 full-time inspectors to cover all firms, including 
a growing number of small enterprises.  Some of the major 
industrial sectors, however, have part-time inspectors.
(###)

[end of document]

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