NGOs faced new restrictions on their activities and those involved in protests against mining and other development projects faced imprisonment under proposed legislation. Authorities failed to protect herder communities from environmental degradation caused by mining operations. Human rights defenders were subjected to intimidation and police investigations. A national mechanism for the prevention of torture was established but torture and other ill-treatment of detainees continued to be reported.
Freedom of association and assembly
A draft law that would restrict legitimate NGO activities remained under discussion by parliament. The bill, first tabled in 2021, proposed the establishment of the Civil Society Development Council to oversee NGOs, but its broad mandate and vaguely worded powers risked undue interference in the internal affairs of NGOs and could place burdensome administrative requirements upon them. The bill also contained provisions prohibiting legitimate activities and limiting NGO funding.
In May, the government introduced a bill to amend the Criminal Code providing for prison sentences for obstructing mining and other development projects. The bill followed demonstrations in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, by herders from across the Gobi region protesting against mining operations and calling for protection of their social and economic rights.
Environmental degradation and economic, social and cultural rights
Coal and other mining operations in the Gobi region destroyed grasslands, contaminated groundwater and depleted other water sources. They also caused soil erosion, with negative impacts on the health and livelihoods of herder communities in the region.
The government issued mining licences without adequate consultation with affected herder communities and failed to ensure that those displaced or otherwise affected by mining operations received adequate compensation and accommodation and had access to essential services and social protection.
Human rights defenders
The government conducted smear campaigns against human rights defenders, including publicly labelling some as foreign spies and criticizing others for obstructing national development plans.
Authorities also used criminal investigations to obstruct the work of human rights defenders. In August, the General Intelligence Agency launched an investigation into Sukhgerel Dugersuren for “illegal cooperation with a foreign intelligence agency or agent” in relation to her work in exposing human rights abuses and environmental degradation resulting from development projects.
Right to housing
Lack of adequate protections resulted in at least 47 households in Ulaanbaatar being made homeless by urban redevelopment projects. Private developers confiscated land for development without consent and failed to provide adequate compensation to those affected.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In July, the government established a national mechanism for the prevention of torture. The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia nevertheless reported incidents of torture and other ill-treatment of people in detention, including to obtain “confessions”.