Authorities failed to protect traditional herders from mining companies’ operations that negatively affected their livelihoods, traditional culture and access to land and clean water. Basic infrastructure and the provision of public services continued to be sorely lacking in informal settlements of internal migrants, in contravention of domestic law. In March the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs publicly apologized and admitted that torture had been used to extract a confession, in an emblematic case of the shortcomings of the criminal justice system.
Access to justice
In March parliament enacted amendments to the Laws on Legal Status of Judges, Public Prosecutor's Office and Anti-corruption. The amendments allow the National Security Council, formed by the President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of parliament to recommend the removal of chief judges, and the heads of the public prosecutor's office and the anti-corruption agency. In May the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders criticized the amendments because they could endanger the independence of the judiciary.
The new Criminal Code in force since 2017 abolished the death penalty for all crimes. However, President Khaltmaagiin Battulga continued to seek to reinstate the death penalty. In 2018 he drafted amendments to the Criminal Code, proposing to reinstate the death penalty for crimes involving sexual violence against children.
Torture and other ill-treatment
The new Criminal Code included for the first time a definition of torture that broadly reflects the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). However, Mongolia failed to establish an independent and effective mechanism to investigate allegations of torture and other ill-treatment as provided for in the Optional Protocol to CAT, binding on Mongolia since 2015. Impunity for and under-reporting of torture of individuals in detention continued.
In March the Minister of Justice and Home Affairs publicly apologized and admitted that torture had been used to extract a confession from B. Sodnomdarjaa and T. Chimgee, who had been sentenced to 25 and 24 years in prison respectively for the murder of S. Zorig, a former Democratic Party MP.
The new draft law on the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, still pending as of December 2019, mandated it to establish a mechanism to prevent torture. However, provisions on the mechanism and the selection process for members were vague and overly broad.
In 2017 the Ulaanbaatar City government banned migration to the city from rural areas until 2018 and then extended the ban until 2020 to reduce the air and soil pollution, including heavy smog in winter. , internal migrants settled in ger areas, areas of houses and traditional round felt dwellings that lack roads, access to water, sanitation and heating, in contravention of domestic law.
The procedures that accompanied the 2015 Urban Redevelopment Law are not sufficient to guarantee the rights of everyone affected by redevelopment. In April, 12 people in a building designated for redevelopment became homeless when the private developer forcibly evicted them.
Laws and policies on redress lack clarity and specificity on options for individuals negatively impacted by redevelopment to raise complaints and seek settlement of disputes. The Administrative Offence Act in force since 2017, allows for increased administrative fines for defamation of individuals or business entities, and was used by private developers against residents in affected communities who exchanged and publicized information on social media concerning redevelopment projects. The government failed to ensure people's right to genuine consultation.
Other economic, social, and cultural rights
Authorities failed to protect traditional herders from mining companies’ operations that negatively affected their livelihoods, traditional culture and access to land and clean water. The influx of mining companies and trucks in the Dalanjargalan subdivision of Dornogovi province caused heavy dust which severely degraded pastures and threatened the health and safety of people and livestock. During the year, Amnesty International received reports of water and pasture contamination when mining companies disposed of toxic waste in Airag soum, Dornogovi province.
Human rights defenders
Human rights defenders reported cases of discrimination, intimidation, harassment, stigmatization and physical attacks against them at the hands of private actors and in some cases by law enforcement and other public officials They also noted the Administrative Offence Act was used to restrict the work of journalists and human rights defenders. A newly proposed draft of the Non-Profit Organization Law would further curtail organization’s work by tightening control of registration and foreign funding.