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MONGOLIA 2021

Covid-19 restrictions were used to repress the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Health workers were threatened and assaulted for protesting against poor working conditions. Authorities failed to adequately address allegations of torture.

Background

Over 200 protests took place during the year, mainly against the negative impact on people’s livelihoods caused by government measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Freedom of expression and assembly

Restrictions introduced to control the spread of Covid-19 that prohibited demonstrations were used to as a pretext to arbitrarily and sometimes forcibly disperse peaceful protests. Some protest organizers were arrested, detained and fined.1

Workers’ rights

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed long-standing weaknesses in the healthcare system. Frontline health workers were subjected to harassment by the authorities and physical assaults by frustrated and desperate patients. Protests about health workers’ treatment, including poor working conditions and exhaustion, were met by threats from the prime minister.

Many health workers continued to work despite their own poor health for fear of losing their jobs. As of October, approximately one in five health workers had been infected with Covid-19.

Right to education

Government-imposed school closures in response to Covid-19 severely impacted access to education for children of herders and other children living in rural areas or areas with limited or no access to the internet and television. Schools reopened in September after almost two academic years.

Human rights defenders

In July, the Law on the Legal Status of Human Rights Defenders entered into force. It consolidated legal protections for human rights defenders but also contained provisions that could be interpreted to arbitrarily restrict human rights defenders’ voices and put them at risk of prosecution. Rights activists, including herders working on environmental and land rights issues and advocates, continued to face threats, intimidation and prosecution for their legitimate activities.2

Torture and other ill-treatment

There was no progress towards setting up a national mechanism for the prevention of torture, which was provided for under the 2020 revised law on the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia, despite Mongolia’s acceptance of relevant recommendations during its UPR.

Torture survivors and victims’ families remained unable to access full and effective reparation. Investigations into allegations of torture were generally flawed and those suspected of being responsible were rarely brought to justice. According to statistics published by the Prosecutor General’s Office in October, 53 alleged torture cases had been reviewed, but only three resulted in prosecutions.

Right to housing

The government continued to block the establishment of “Citizens’ Representative Organisations”. Provided for in the Law on Urban Redevelopment, these bodies ensure the participation of communities in decisions relating to the projects affecting their land and housing. In October, the Supreme Court dismissed the case of Davaanyam Puntsag and his family who were forcibly evicted in 2018 when a property developer demolished their home in the Bayangol district of the capital, Ulaanbaatar.

LGBTI people’s rights

Online discriminatory comments posted by the Deputy Mayor of Ulaanbaatar in September led to an increase in threats and hate speech against LGBTI people, activists and organizations.


  1. Mongolia: The right to freedom of assembly and expression is being suppressed”, 12 May (Mongolian only)
  2. “Mongolia: The real situation of human rights defenders is a problem,” 25 May