Are the Mongolian authorities getting away with murder?

Ten police officers have been arrested and charged with premeditated murder, after five people were killed during riots in Mongolia last year.

Four of the victims died from gunshot wounds during the riots in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaanbaatar on 1 July 2008. Violence broke out following allegations of widespread fraud in the parliamentary elections held on 29 June.

The Mongolian government is being urged to conduct an independent and impartial investigation into police use of unnecessary and excessive force.

The call comes amid fears that the perpetrators will not be brought to justice. The arrested officers are currently released on bail.

During the riots, protestors targeted the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) headquarters. They set the building on fire and looted commercial offices.

Hundreds of civilians including police officers were injured. According to local news reports, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to suppress the riots. A state of emergency was declared on 2 July for four days.

The protests were unexpected and unexpectedly violent on a scale not previously seen in Mongolia. The riots resulted in Mongolia’s first-ever State of Emergency.

Enkhbayar Dorjsuren, 24, was shot in the neck by police in the city centre at 1:40am on 2 July. His family went looking for him after he failed to report for work the next day. They found his body in the morgue around 10pm. An autopsy had been performed without the knowledge or approval of his family. No information about the investigation into the killing has been made available.

Also killed that day was Tserenjav Enkhbaatar. The 36-year-old was visiting Ulaanbaatar to buy equipment for his company. He was chased by police in a car and shot in the back around 1am. He underwent emergency surgery but died in hospital shortly afterwards. No information about the investigation into the killing has been made available.

“There needs to be complete accountability for the events of 1 July”, said Sam Zarifi, Director for Asia-Pacific at Amnesty International. “The Mongolian government needs to re-establish confidence in the rule of law and show that they are serious about protecting and promoting human rights.”

Amnesty International has called on the government to ensure that the current investigation is thorough and that the report by the investigating body is made public.

The organization has also said that those suspected of perpetrating human rights violations should be prosecuted, in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and where they do not face the death penalty.

Each of the victims’ families has been granted compensation of MNT one million from the Government of Mongolia. They have also been awarded MNT 100,000 from other government sources.

However, unless families have freely agreed otherwise, this should not prejudice their right to take civil or any other legal action against the government or specific officials.

Nor can compensation replace investigation and prosecution of suspected perpetrators in accordance with international legal standards.