CRIME. POLICE AND PRISONS IN MONGOLIA

CRIME IN MONGOLIA

The crime rate is low. Mongolians are generally very law abiding people, and violent major crimes is rare. But that is not to say problems don't occur. Petty crime is more common than it used to be; some places should be avoided after dark; drunks sometimes pick fights with foreigners; and thefts on trains and crowded buses are becoming more common.

Economic hardships have brought about an increase in begging, pickpocketing and vandalizing of parked cars and other crimes. Prostitution has increased, sometimes involving children, especially near hotels frequented by foreigners. Livestock rustling is a concern for some animal herders. At the Russian border, mysterious spools of thread are placed in empty laptop computer cases and carried by Buryat women from Mongolia into Russia.

According to the OSCA: Crime in Ulaanbaatar, and throughout Mongolia, has sharply increased in recent years. Mongolia’s National Police Agency’s (NPA) statistics show that overall incidence of crime in 2014 had increased by 7.7 percent for all of Mongolia and 11.2 percent for Ulaanbaatar over 2013. The NPA reported the following countrywide statistics among the major crime categories (as defined by NPA standards) for 2014: 1) Intended (actual) Murders: 211, a 3.4 percent increase; 2) Grave Crimes (very serious, less than murder): a 21.9 percent increase; 3) Intentional Infliction of Severe Bodily Injury: 8,132 cases, a 7.5 percent increase; 4) Rape: 344 cases, a 12.8 percent decrease; 5) Vehicle Thefts: a 84.4 percent increase; 6) Pickpocketing: a 37.6 percent increase; 7) Robberies: 686 cases, a 10.6 percent increase; 8) Economic Crimes: an 82.1 percent increase. [Source: “Mongolia 2015 Crime and Safety Report,” Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State ^^^]

Drug addiction and trafficking are a minor, but growing, problem, as disposable incomes continue to grow for most Mongolians. Mongolian National Police view drug trafficking as a serious threat, and foreign travelers in the possession of drugs can expect an uncertain and opaque judicial process if charges are filed. ^^^

The police report that there are no known organized criminal groups or gangs operating in Mongolia. However, in September 2013, three gunmen associated with the environmental organization Fire Nation entered the Government House in central Ulaanbaatar north of the main square and fired rounds from hunting rifles in protest of an environmental bill under review by Parliament. Members of the group were also held responsible for planting an explosive device that day that did not detonate in a high-rise building across from the main square. The perpetrators were arrested and imprisoned. Incidents such as these are extremely rare. ^^^

Crime in Mongolia in the 1980s

In the late 1980s, the most common crimes were theft and embezzlement of state property, black-marketing, juvenile delinquency, misappropriation of materials (food and drugs, for example), and speculation (such as selling automobiles). To combat these crimes, the authorities called for better enforcement of laws, harsher punishment for criminals, and additional public involvement in fighting crime. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

Hooliganism and vandalism by juvenile delinquents in the towns and cities also caused the authorities grave concern. Much of this activity was attributed to the rising rate of divorce and to broken homes. To combat this situation, the authorities called for efforts to strengthen the family structure; to ensure better compliance with family and marriage laws; to improve the laws on family, marriage, child adoption, and guardianship; and to better integrate schools with the job market, in order to discourage idleness among students more effectively. *

In 1989 Mongolian government and party leaders, now less fearful of foreign threat, were taking steps to reduce the size of the armed forces and to make further use of the skills of demobilized military personnel in support of the civilian economy. The leaders were more concerned with the threats of corruption and of incompetence in law enforcement that allowed for an increase in crime, especially economic crimes. To remedy this situation, the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party called for renewed efforts to reform law-enforcement organizations by enhancing the role of the Ministry of Justice, to ensure the independence of prosecutors, and to improve the training and evaluation of judicial cadre. *

Crimes Affecting Foreigners in Mongolia

There have been reports of pick pocket thefts and muggings in Ulaan Baatar. Razorblade thefts have been reportedly around the department stores, post office, train station, markets and other crowded places. Watch your stuff at the train station. Don’t trust the porters there. Visitors are advised not walk the streets alone at night or visit the ger suburbs. Keep you distance from drunks. They can sometimes be abusive. The street children in Ulaan Baatar can also be an annoyance. When camping make sure you pitch your tent far enough away from people that might potentially bother you.

According to the OSCA: Street crimes can be difficult to avoid and victims tend to be targeted at random. Crimes committed against foreigners have increased roughly in proportion to the overall increase in crime. Locations that have attracted thieves include the Narantuul covered market (commonly known as the “Black Market”); the State Department store (a name deriving from Mongolia’s socialist past, not from the U.S. Department of State); the Mercury food market shopping center; the Seoul Street restaurant/bar district; the section of Big Ring Road, between the Urgoo Cinema and Ulaanbaatar Hotel; and crowded sporting events. [Source: “Mongolia 2015 Crime and Safety Report,” Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State ^^^]

Marked taxi cabs are considered to be safe and reliable. Individuals who have used unregistered or private cabs have reported being robbed and physically assaulted. One such confrontation in 2014 erupted after a disagreement over a fare and ended with the victims requiring treatment at a hospital. ^^^

Scams to take money from foreign drivers are common in Ulaanbaatar. The most typical is the car washing scam and occurs during the warmer months. Local males will observe drivers as they park their vehicles near restaurants and shopping centers. Once the driver is out of sight, they will begin washing the vehicle and demand money for their unsolicited service from the driver upon his return. In some cases, the car washer will block the driver from entering his vehicle if he refuses to pay. The areas where this scam most frequently occurs are near the State Department store; along Seoul Street; and near the UB shopping mart, behind the Blue Sky Hotel and next to the Choijin Lama museum. In most cases, using the remote car alarm and plenty of loud noise will cause the unsolicited car washers to depart the scene. ^^^

Though relatively infrequent, physical assaults against foreigners in Ulaanbaatar occur and are most often motivated by xenophobia or the expectation of financial gain. Many of these assaults have occurred during the evening hours and may have been committed by intoxicated or emotionally disturbed persons. There is a small nationalist, criminal element that targets foreign nationals. This group feeds on the fear that foreign businesses will exploit Mongolians and the country’s natural resources. Foreign national males are most at risk from xenophobic attacks or threats during the late evening hours at nightclubs and bars, especially if they are in the company of Mongolian women. Additionally, nationalist groups sometimes mistake Asian-Americans for nationals of China, Japan, Korea, or Vietnam who are also known targets of such groups.

Although there is no systemic government infringement on personal privacy, visitors should have no expectation of privacy in public or private locations. Hotel rooms may be accessed by hotel staff without the occupants’ consent or knowledge and visitors should take precautions to safeguard sensitive, personal, and/or proprietary information. ^^^

Alcoholism in Mongolia

In a district of Ulan Bator settled by former herders, unconscious bodies — presumably drunks — lie by the roadside, ignored. Other drunks stumble past, held up by staggering friends. In small groups, men huddle around roadside fires, drinking. Some started their day with a shot of vodka. A report by the World Health Organization said that alcohol abuse could be Mongolia's biggest obstacle to economic and social progress. A 2006 survey carried out by Mongolia's Ministry of Health and WHO found that 22 percent of Mongolian men and 5 percent of women are dependent on alcohol, rates three times higher than in Europe. Surveys indicate that 72 percent of violent crime is driven by alcohol. Almost one in five Mongolian men binge-drink on a weekly basis. [Source: Louisa Lim, NPR, September 9, 2009 \*/]

Louisa Lim of NPR wrote: “At midnight in Mongolia's capital, Ulan Bator, 14 people are in the "sobering-up" cells at a district police station on a recent evening. This and police stations like it are on the frontline of Mongolia's battle against alcohol abuse. People are brought to the cells to prevent them from freezing to death in the winter, and from doing harm to others. The station's top-ranking policeman says the level of alcohol abuse has worsened drastically since Mongolia became independent from the Soviet Union in 1990. He blames the social upheaval that came with post-Soviet economic liberalization. \*/

“Unemployment and poverty are the main issues why people get drunk. In the early '90s the manufacturing plants closed down, and their workers became very poor. With the market economy, the unemployment rate became critical and the drinking really started. "Unemployment and poverty are the main issues why people get drunk. In the early '90s the manufacturing plants closed down, and their workers became very poor. With the market economy, the unemployment rate became critical and the drinking really started," says the officer, Davkharbayar.\*/

“Alcohol-related domestic violence prompted the arrests of the 14 people in lockup on this recent evening. "All of these 14 calls came from homes complaining," says Davkharbayar. "It's all domestic. These men are all our regular customers. We know them all." \*/

“The social problems emanating from Mongolia's drinking culture are even the subject of a hip-hop parody in "Reverse Day," a sardonic song by the popular band Tatar. All the women in the music video have their front teeth missing, a clear reference to the high level of alcohol-fueled domestic violence. "The Earth is spinning a bit too fast," the lyrics say. "Have one more, the alcohol is evaporating."” \*/

Rape in Mongolia

According to the U.S. Department of State: In 2014, according to NPA statistics, reported sexual assaults declined nationwide, while Ulaanbaatar recorded 152 rapes in the city, a 12.8 percent increase over 2013. [Source: “Mongolia 2015 Crime and Safety Report,” Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State ^^^]

The criminal code outlaws sexual intercourse through physical violence (or threat of violence) and provides for sentences of 15 to 25 years’ imprisonment or death, depending on the circumstances. (Note: Although the death penalty exists in the criminal code, it has been abolished in practice.) No law specifically prohibits spousal rape, which authorities do not commonly recognize or prosecute. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015: Mongolia,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \*\]

NGOs alleged that many rapes were not reported and stated that cultural norms, as well as stressful police and judicial procedures, tended to discourage reporting. The Judicial General Council reported that during the first half of the year, 98 rape cases were registered at court; 10 involved victims under age 16. In the same period, 109 persons were convicted of rape. \*\

The NPA received 223 reports of rape as of the end of September, 2014. Authorities continued to report that increasing numbers of minor girls were victims of rape: 93 cases in the first nine months of the year, up from 54 cases in the first 10 months of 2013. NGOs alleged many rapes were not reported and claimed that police and judicial procedures imposed stress on victims and tended to discourage reporting of the crime. The Judicial General Council reported that during the first nine months of the year, there were 176 rape cases registered at court. These cases involved 150 victims, of whom 68 were minors. A total of 196 people were convicted, and courts assessed a total of 7,272,120 tugrugs ($3,880) in damages. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2014: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \+\]

Domestic Violence in Mongolia

There is no specific criminal law provision on domestic violence, although prosecutors may pursue criminal charges under other provisions of the criminal code (such as assault, battery, infliction of injury, disorderly conduct, and hooliganism). Civil law provides a measure of protection for victims of domestic abuse, including the possibility of obtaining restraining orders, but a number of procedural and other barriers make restraining orders difficult to obtain and enforce. The law requires police who receive reports of domestic violence to accept and file complaints, visit the site of incidents, interrogate offenders and witnesses, enforce administrative penalties, and take victims to a refuge. It also provides for sanctions against offenders, including expulsion from the home, prohibitions on the use of joint property, prohibitions on meeting victims and on access to minors, and compulsory training aimed at behavior modification. Domestic violence cannot be reported anonymously, which may dissuade individuals from reporting it. /*/

Domestic violence cannot be reported anonymously, and callers must often give their names and locations, thereby dissuading individuals from reporting domestic abuse due to fear their identity might be leaked to the perpetrator. NGOs reported restraining orders were rarely issued in cases involving domestic violence, and that, even when issued, restraining orders were poorly monitored and enforced. Individuals allegedly perpetrating domestic violence were sometimes detained under administrative law rather criminal law provisions. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2014: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State]

Alleged perpetrators of domestic violence were sometimes detained on administrative rather than criminal charges. Those detained under administrative charges were typically fined MNT 15,000 ($7.51) and released after a maximum detention of 72 hours. The determination of whether to charge alleged perpetrators with administrative or criminal offenses depended on the severity of physical injury inflicted on the victim. /*/

The NCAV stated that in the first nine months of the year, it provided services, including shelter, to more than 1,000 persons. The government continued to contract with the NCAV and other NGOs to provide services to victims. The Ulaanbaatar Metropolitan Police Department’s Prevention of Domestic Violence and Crimes against Children Division included a police-run shelter for victims of domestic violence. The shelter staff received Ministry of Justice-funded training from NCAV staff members during the year. /*/

According to the NCAV, there were seven shelters (two in Ulaanbaatar) and five one-stop service centers (three in Ulaanbaatar) run by a variety of NGOs, local government agencies, and hospitals. The one-stop service centers, located primarily at hospitals, provided emergency shelter to victims for up to 72 hours. Victims who needed longer-term accommodations were transferred to shelters. The small number of shelters, particularly in rural areas, presented a challenge for domestic violence victims seeking assistance. /*/

Cases of Domestic Violence in Mongolia

According to the U.S. Department of State: Domestic violence remained a serious and widespread problem. In the first seven months of the year, the NGO National Center against Violence (NCAV) registered 660 reports of domestic violence, attributing an increase over the previous year to greater public awareness. Vigorous campaigning by NGOs and government entities was credited with bringing domestic violence into the public discourse and elevating government efforts to combat it. The NCAV also reported an increase in the number of police officers requesting information and a drop in complaints that police had refused to respond to domestic violence calls; The NCAV attributed these developments to growing government and public awareness of domestic violence problems. All police officers’ position descriptions include combating domestic violence. /*/ [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015: Mongolia,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State ]

In the first nine months of 2014, the NPA received 543 reports of domestic violence, nearly double the 284 reported for the same period in 2013. The NCAV attributed the increase to greater public awareness. Vigorous campaigning by NGOs, along with a December 2013 speech by President Elbegdorj drawing attention to the issue and calling on citizens to unite against domestic violence, were widely credited with bringing domestic violence into the public discourse and elevating governmental efforts to combat it. One outcome was the revision of all police officers’ position descriptions to include combating domestic violence. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2014: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \+\]

The NCAV stated that in the first six months of 2014, it provided temporary shelter to 83 persons (36 women and 47 children) at its shelters. The NCAV also provided psychological counseling to 371 individuals and legal counseling to 469 individuals (the categories overlap). A total of 712 people received services from the NCAV between January and June. Of the 712, 564 people were referred to the NCAV as victims of domestic violence, and 148 were referred as victims of sexual abuse. Of those who experienced sexual abuse, 82 percent were victimized by their spouse. The NCAV continued domestic violence prevention campaigns without governmental support. The government continued to contract with NGOs to provide services to victims. For example, for the year the NCAV received 22.4 million tugrugs ($11,950) from the General Social Welfare Services Agency, five million tugrugs ($2,670) from the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection and 28.5 million tugrugs ($15,200) from the Ministry of Justice to assist victims of domestic violence. \+\

Civil Unrest and Political Violence in Mongolia

According to the OSCA: Mongolia is generally a peaceful country with few incidents of political violence, violent demonstrations, or civil unrest. The political process is relatively stable and allows for expression of dissenting views. Presidential elections were held in June 2013 in the absence of violence or civil unrest. There have been no widespread reports of violence or conflict between ethnic group. [Source: “Mongolia 2015 Crime and Safety Report,” Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State ^^^]

Peaceful protests do occur in the center of Ulaanbaatar, but the turnout is usually small in number. There is a vocal nationalist-resource movement that has staged small protests targeting international mining consortia, with fringe elements occasionally vandalizing foreign-owned businesses. Large-scale demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience have been uncommon since the country rejected Soviet-style socialism in the early 1990s. There were violent post-election protests that left Turkmenistan people dead (See History).

Ultranationalist groups, although less active than in recent years, continued to commit isolated acts of violence, most often targeted at Chinese workers. Members of the LGBT community also continued to express fear of ultranationalists, who in the past have targeted LGBT persons. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2015: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State]

There have been no reports of terrorist attacks or indigenous terrorist groups operating in Mongolia. Authorities are cognizant that their porous borders might allow transnational terrorists to enter the country. Authorities closely monitor visitors from countries that have been the homes of transnational terrorists.

Human Trafficking in Mongolia

According to the U.S. Department of State: Mongolia is a source and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Mongolian men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor, and women are subjected to sex trafficking abroad, primarily in China, Hong Kong and, to a lesser extent, Malaysia and Indonesia. Mongolian men are subjected to forced labor in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, and the Czech Republic. Mongolian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Sweden. Women are subjected to domestic servitude or forced prostitution after entering into commercially brokered marriages to Chinese men and, with decreased frequency, South Korean men. There have been reports over the past five years that Mongolian girls employed as contortionists, under contracts signed by their parents, have been subjected to forced labor and sometimes forced begging in Mongolia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and Turkey. The majority of repatriated Mongolian victims in 2014 were exploited in China. [Source: “2015 Trafficking in Persons Report: Mongolia,” Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons,U.S. Department of State *~*]

Women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Mongolia in massage parlors, hotels, bars, and karaoke clubs. Traffickers sometimes use drugs or fraudulent social networking, online job opportunities, and English language programs to lure Mongolian victims into sex trafficking. NGO reports suggest an increasing number of victims from rural areas are subjected to sexual exploitation in Ulaanbaatar. Previous reports allege Japanese tourists engage in child sex tourism in Mongolia. Mongolian children are sometimes forced to beg, steal, or work in the informal construction, horse racing, animal husbandry, mining, agricultural, and industrial sectors—often with the complicity of family members. The vulnerability of some Filipina domestic workers in Mongolia to trafficking remains a concern, although immigration authorities noted the number of undocumented workers has decreased significantly. Thousands of North Korean and Chinese workers employed in Mongolia as contract laborers in construction, production, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, factories, wholesale and retail trade, automobile maintenance, and mining are vulnerable to trafficking. North Korean laborers reportedly do not have freedom of movement or choice of employment and receive sub-minimum wages while being subjected to harsh working and living conditions. Chinese workers have reported nonpayment of wages. Corruption among Mongolian officials remains a significant problem in the country, impairing anti-trafficking efforts. *~*

The Government of Mongolia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In 2014, the government passed five implementing regulations for the Law on Victim and Witness Protection, referred 36 potential trafficking victims to an anti-trafficking NGO for assistance, and promulgated a labor trafficking announcement on social media and television networks. The government maintained limited victim protection efforts in 2014. The government convicted one trafficker in 2014, compared with five in 2013 and began implementation of one of the five regulations necessary to allow for full use of the 2012 anti-trafficking law. During the reporting year, the government reduced funding to an NGO-run shelter, and neither finalized nor implemented the national action plan to combat trafficking. *~*

Police in Mongolia

The primary organization that is charged with maintaining peace and security in Mongolia is the National Police Agency (NPA). According to the U.S. Department of State: The NPA and the General Authority for Border Protection, which operate under the Ministry of Justice, are principally responsible for internal security. The KGB-like General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia (GIA), whose civilian head reports directly to the prime minister, assists the aforementioned forces with internal security as well as foreign intelligence collection and operations. The armed forces, which report directly to the Ministry of Defense, are responsible for national defense but also assist internal security forces in providing domestic emergency assistance and disaster relief. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015: Mongolia,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \*\]

Civilian authorities generally maintained control over both internal and external security forces, but mechanisms to investigate specific allegations of police abuses remained inadequate. There were reported instances of security forces abusing undetained suspects with impunity. Through September 2015, the NPA reported 11 complaints of physical attacks by police against citizens that resulted in criminal cases. In such cases, the officer was released from duty when charges were filed. As of December, no cases had been resolved. \*\

The NPA reported that in addition to the seven allegations of torture through September 2014, there were 18 complaints of physical attacks by police against citizens. All of these were referred for criminal investigation, at which stage 10 of these complaints were withdrawn. As of September eight investigations continued. There was also one police officer charged with rape, and the investigation continued as of September. While many legal reforms remained under development, several laws passed in 2013 entered into force during the year, including: the Law on Victim and Witness Protection; the Law on the Marshal Service (which established the agency); the Law on Legal Assistance to Insolvent Defendants, and amendments to the Law on Police. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2014: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \+\]

Police Response in Mongolia

According to the OSCA: The Mongolian National Police continue to improve its emergency response system in Ulaanbaatar and has the ability in most instances to pinpoint the exact location of an emergency call, to include some cell phone calls. However, if the call is placed by a person who does not speak Mongolian, the caller will face a language barrier. The National Police do not have fluent English speakers for emergency dispatch call centers. Ulaanbaatar does not have a dedicated tourist police unit; nor does it have a centralized incident reporting system. [Source: “Mongolia 2015 Crime and Safety Report,” Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State ^^^]

If detained or arrested, Americans should contact the U.S. Embassy as soon as possible. Most police officers are unaware of a foreign national’s right to request Consular assistance after an arrest, which may require the national to request to speak to a Consular official on multiple occasions. Foreigners subjected to a criminal investigation or complaint may be detained or be unable to leave the country pending legal proceedings, even for petty crimes such as shoplifting. Retaining legal counsel for even minor offenses is strongly encouraged as the Mongolian legal system is complicated. Foreigners may be required to retain and pay for the services of registered translators when they are victims of reported crimes or accused of crimes. The Embassy maintains lists of interpreters and English-speaking lawyers. ^^^

Police Brutality in Mongolia

According to the U.S. Department of State: Credible sources, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), reported that police abused some prisoners and detainees. Human rights groups reported the use of unnecessary force and torture, particularly to obtain confessions, was a serious problem, and correction guards and police meted out cruel treatment to some inmates at police stations and detention centers. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2014: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \+\]

Responsibility for investigating allegations of torture or other abuses by law enforcement officers changed during the year. The Office of the State Prosecutor General’s Special Investigative Unit (SIU), which previously had this responsibility, was disbanded in January. Local police assumed responsibility for investigating allegations of torture. As police officers represented a considerable portion of alleged perpetrators, the NHRC expressed concerns the new structure would be less effective, both because it requires police officers to investigate each other, leading to possible conflicts of interest, and because such perceived conflicts of interest could undermine public confidence in investigations. NGOs asserted the SIU’s dissolution eliminated the independent torture allegation investigation mechanism altogether and the relevant agencies had not clearly communicated the new lines of responsibility to the public. As of September 24, the National Police Agency (NPA), the central authority that oversees all police nationwide, reported receiving seven complaints (down from 51 received by the SIU the previous year) accusing individual police officers of torture. The NPA dismissed three of the complaints for alleging facts that, if proven, would still not meet the legal definition of torture. The four remaining complaints were referred to local authorities for criminal investigation. \+\

Legal professionals and NGOs cited numerous barriers to holding alleged abusers accountable. For example, only police detectives and investigators can be tried under Article 251 of the criminal code, which prohibits forced testimony and is the main mechanism for prosecuting official abuse or torture. This article covers only physical abuse and does not include psychological abuse or threats against suspects or their families. \+\

Data from the Judicial General Council, the body that maintains court statistics, indicated that very few cases under Article 251 reached the courts during the year. According to the NHRC, complaints alleging psychological torture were sometimes dropped because of the impossibility of producing evidence or because the degree of injury could not be determined. Law enforcement officials can also be held liable under Article 96 for intentional infliction of severe bodily injury, although prosecutions under this provision were rare. Article 44.1 states that prohibited acts (including infliction of severe bodily injury) do not constitute a crime when committed in accordance with an order by a superior in the course of duty. The law provides that the person who gave the illegal order or decree is criminally liable for the harm caused, but prosecutions were rare. According to Amnesty International (AI), former SIU officials, prosecutors, and judges, Article 44.1 effectively provides immunity to law enforcement officials allegedly engaged in coercing confessions at the behest of investigators or prosecutors. \+\

Bat Khurts, who was under investigation in Europe for the alleged kidnapping of the late Damiran Enkhbat in 2003 while he was an officer for the General Intelligence Agency (GIA), was appointed head of the GIA in November, 2014. \+\

See Torture Under Human Rights

Police and Militias in Soviet-Era Mongolia

The people of Mongolia in the Soviet-era were subject to the control of a variety of political, economic, and social organizations inside and outside the government. The entire system was guided by the party, which directed the overall policies of the government agencies; other political groups, such as the youth and labor organizations; and the network of herding and agricultural cooperatives that extended to include the lowliest arad. Through this hierarchy of formal control and the dynamics of its politico-social activities, the central government extended its general, and often extremely particular, direction over the entire population (see Society, Major State Organizations). [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

In the government structure itself, the security system comprised the Ministry of Public Security under which were the central Militia Office and the network of police departments, called militia departments; the State Security Administration; the Fire Prevention Administration; the Border and Internal Troops Administration; and the offices handling correctional organizations. In addition, both governmental and public auxiliary law-enforcement groups helped these agencies to maintain public order and safety (see Local Government).*

The national police apparatus, commonly called the militia, had a department in each aymag and a militia office in each district. The militia was responsible for the registration and supervision of the internal passports that all citizens aged sixteen and older were required to carry, and for enforcement of the passport regulations at the national and local levels. A passport was necessary for internal travel, and persons wishing to travel first had to obtain permission from the militia. After arriving at their destination, they had to register with the militia. The militia collected the passports of those entering military service. The passports of persons under criminal investigation and detention were held by the investigative organ, but those who were sentenced to prison surrendered their passports to the militia. A system of tight control was imposed upon the movements of all citizens. The militia also had been designated as the organ of criminal investigation--giving central direction to police work and combining the functions of criminal investigation and criminal arrest. The procurators supervised the militia's crime-detection work. Militia investigators were expected to have strong political convictions, a knowledge of jurisprudence, extensive working experience, loyalty, and honesty.*

Militia organs, together with local assemblies administered compulsory labor sentences of convicted criminals. Militiamen, as well as the executive committees of local governments, had authority to put intoxicated persons into detention houses for twenty-four hours or less and to fine them. Each militia office had a motor-vehicle inspection bureau, which regulated vehicular traffic, investigated accidents, issued licenses, and could impose fines on operators guilty of minor law infractions. Detectives attached to motor vehicle inspection bureaus also investigated vehicular accidents. Militia members directed motor traffic, and they were stationed along the railroads.*

Auxiliary Security Forces in Soviet-Era Mongolia

Various governmental and public organizations assisted the regular law-enforcement agencies in keeping order. Public brigades had been organized as auxiliaries to help the militia in crime detection and prevention, in gathering evidence, in observing public gatherings, in finding stolen goods, and in tracking escaped criminals. In addition, there were mass social organizations, including block and district committees, and parents' committees in schools. These citizens' groups were used to help fight such crimes as murder, burglary, theft, and arson. They also could function as deputies or special police, as the occasion demanded. In addition, there were administrative committees, special police courts, committees of public-spirited citizens to deal with juvenile delinquents, and anticrime commissions in the larger cities and towns. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

The most important of these bodies were the Crime Fighting and Crime Prevention Councils, which were voluntary and informal party organizations operating without paid staffs at all levels of the party-government structure. These councils were strictly advisory bodies, and they had no authority to replace judicial or law-enforcement agencies in any way. Their function was to discuss in general terms the problems of crime and how best to combat it. *

The Ministry of Public Security also was responsible for the Fire Prevention Administration and the State Security Administration. The Fire Prevention Administration supervised all fire-prevention and fire-fighting activities. The State Security Administration was a counterintelligence organization thought to oversee anti-espionage, antisubversion, and anti-sabotage activities.*

Mongolia maintains and supports a military-oriented border police force and takes any attempted illegal crossing seriously. Travelers attempting to enter or depart Mongolia illegally can expect to be detained and interrogated. In the 1980s, the Border and Internal Troops Administration was in charge of 15,000 troops responsible for border patrol, for guard duties, and for immigration control. Border defense troops were equipped with fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, tanks, motor vehicles and motorcycles, radio communications equipment, engineering equipment, and automatic weapons.*

Prison and Detention Centers in Mongolia

Prisons are overcrowded. The General Executive Agency of Court Decision (GEACD)’s 24 prisons were intended to hold 5,982 inmates, but held 6,497 in September 2015. Under an amnesty program, 1,930 individuals were released in November. While the GEACD’s 25 pretrial detention centers were generally not overcrowded, the police-run Denjiin Myanga detention center suffered from serious overcrowding and remained of particular concern. Men and women were held in separate facilities under similar conditions. Male prisoners were assigned a security level based on the severity of their crimes and housed in a prison of the corresponding security level. There was a single prison for women. Detention facilities housed violent and non-violent detainees together. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015: Mongolia,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State /*/]

The GEACD reported that as of September 2014, there were 6,628 prisoners serving sentences, of whom 286 were women and 35 were juveniles. In addition, a total of 1,145 people were in pretrial detention, of whom 62 were women and 27 were juveniles. The GEACD’s 25 prisons were intended to hold 5,307 inmates, and its 25 arrest and pretrial detention centers had a capacity of 2,295. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2014: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \+\]

Judges had some discretion to use alternative sentencing (such as fines, probation, and deprivation of the right to hold specified positions and engage in specified business) for minor crimes committed by non-violent offenders. Good behavior was a consideration for parole. Officials permitted prisoners to work outside prison to reduce sentences and earn money, with the money sometimes going to the victims of the convict’s crime. NGOs promoting prisoner rights reported that the management of prisoner wages was becoming more transparent. Prisoners and detainees had reasonable access to visitors, and officials permitted religious observance. \+\

There is no ombudsman’s office to respond to prisoner complaints. The law allows prisoners and detainees to submit uncensored complaints to judicial authorities and to request investigation of prison conditions. The Prosecutor General’s Office was tasked with monitoring prison and detention center conditions. The Prosecutor General’s Office and the NHRC conducted multiple scheduled, unplanned, and complaint-based investigations of prisons, pretrial detention centers, and police detention centers. Inspections resulted in guidance to improve conditions that might violate human rights or demands to correct human rights violations that occurred. The government allowed access to independent nongovernmental observers and the NHRC, but access was generally limited to low- and medium-security facilities, and authorities sometimes limited the areas observers were allowed to see./*/

Amnesty: In November 2015, parliament adopted an amnesty law that freed certain prisoners who confessed to their crimes and paid monetary damages or deducted two years from the sentences of convicted individuals. The amnesty did not apply to individuals convicted of bribery, illegal spending of public funds, or first-degree felonies, such as kidnapping, terrorism, rape, murder, and treason. /*/

In the Soviet era, Mongolia maintained both prison camps and correctional or educational colonies in the 1980s. There also were detention camps for minor offenders, designed to rehabilitate them by "socially useful labor." Such labor included town-improvement projects: cleaning the street, and repairing buildings. Those performing this labor received neither wages nor food; they purchased their food or depended on their families to provide it. Local jails existed for brief detentions (twenty-four hours or less) of intoxicated persons and those awaiting indictment. [Source: Library of Congress, June 1989 *]

Conditions Prison and Detention Center Conditions

According to NGO reporting, conditions remained poor, and in some cases harsh in police-run administrative detention centers and some prisons and pretrial detention centers administered by the General Executive Agency of Court Decisions (GEACD), despite improvements in recent years. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015: Mongolia,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State /*/]

According to the U.S. Department of State: Prison and detention center conditions varied. NGOs reported that overcrowding and insufficient medical care, clothing, bedding, food, water quality, lighting, ventilation, sanitary facilities, and accommodations for persons with disabilities were often problems in older prisons and pretrial detention centers. These problems were often worse in rural areas. New or newly renovated facilities generally had better conditions. Conditions in police-operated detoxification centers were often poor. Inebriated individuals were routinely detained in overcrowded holding cells for up to 24 hours. /*/

Although water was delivered to prisons, the quality and amount were inadequate. Rural prisons were particularly susceptible to water shortages, as water was sometimes delivered from far away. Prison hospitals also had low quantities of medical supplies and lacked skilled doctors. The police-run Denjiin Myanga Detention Center, which suffered from serious overcrowding, remained a facility of particular concern. Although prisoners had access to potable water in all detention facilities, officials reported they lacked the resources to provide adequate amounts of water, as well as food, hygiene, bedding, ventilation, and bathing facilities. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Rights Practices for 2014: Mongolia” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \+\]

The GEACD reported four deaths in prisons and one death in pretrial detention facilities as of September 2015. In the same period, 73 cases of tuberculosis were contracted in prisons. Correctional officials routinely released terminally ill patients shortly before death, which the Prison Fellowship of Mongolia alleged led to misleadingly low prisoner death statistics. The GEACD reported seven deaths in prisons as of September 2014, and two deaths in pretrial detention facilities. In addition, as of August there were 45 cases of tuberculosis contracted in prisons. \+\ /*/

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated April 2016


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