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Executive Summary

Mongolia is a multiparty parliamentary democracy governed by a democratically elected government. The June 9 presidential election and 2020 parliamentary elections were peaceful and generally considered free and fair, although some observers expressed concern regarding allegations of vote buying.

The National Police Agency and the General Authority for Border Protection, which operate under the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, are primarily responsible for internal security. The General Intelligence Agency, whose director reports to the prime minister, assists these two agencies with internal security. The armed forces report to the Ministry of Defense and assist internal security forces in providing domestic emergency assistance and disaster relief. Civilian authorities maintained control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of the use of criminal libel laws; serious government corruption; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons; and forced child labor.

Government efforts to punish officials who committed human rights abuses or acts of corruption were inconsistent.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.

The law prohibits such practices. Nevertheless, the quasigovernmental National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported some prisoners and detainees were subjected to unnecessary force and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, particularly to obtain confessions.

Responsibility for investigating allegations of torture and abuse is assigned to either local police or the Independent Authority Against Corruption, with the anticorruption authority generally responsible for crimes committed while on duty. The prosecutor’s office oversees such investigations.

In March a soldier died after he was beaten by his platoon leader. The Mongolian Armed Forces issued a public apology. The officer was dismissed and convicted of murder.

The NHRC reported that to coerce or intimidate detainees, authorities sometimes made access to legal counsel difficult. Human rights NGOs and attorneys reported obstacles to gathering evidence of torture or abuse. For example, although many prisons and detention facilities had cameras for monitoring prisoner interrogations, authorities often reported the equipment was inoperable at the time of reported abuses.

Under the criminal code, all public officials are subject to prosecution for abuse or torture, including both physical and psychological abuse. The maximum punishment for torture is a five-year prison sentence, or life in prison if the victim dies as a result of torture. Although officials are liable for intentional infliction of severe bodily injury, prosecutions of this crime were rare. The law states that prohibited acts do not constitute a crime when committed in accordance with an order given by a superior in the course of official duties and without knowledge the act was prohibited. A person who knowingly enforces an illegal order is considered an accomplice to the crime. The law provides that the person who gives an illegal order is criminally liable for the harm caused, but prosecutions were rare.

As of September, the National Police Agency reported investigating nine complaints of rape by public officials, among them one police officer. Four cases involved underage victims. Police also investigated 24 complaints of causing intentional damage to others’ health committed by public officials, including one police officer.

Impunity was not a significant problem in the security forces. The NHRC, lawyers, human rights activists, and NGOs continued to raise concerns regarding impunity for law enforcement officials and demanded the re-establishment of a special investigation unit under the Prosecutor General’s Office that had been dissolved in 2014. They noted that investigations of criminal acts committed by security forces and law enforcement personnel were frequently handled internally, with the most serious penalty being termination of employment rather than criminal conviction. Although a law passed in January 2020 established a commissioner within the NHRC in charge of torture prevention, the position had not been filled as of September. The commissioner would have the authority to make unannounced inspections of places of detention and interrogation.

In June, President Battulga pardoned the former head of the General Intelligence Agency (GIA), Bat Khurts, for his role in the 2017 torture of suspects convicted of murder in connection with the 1998 assassination of Sanjaasuren Zorig, a leader of the country’s democratic revolution. The GIA head and other defendants were convicted in 2020 and received prison sentences ranging from one to two years.

In a September 2020 report, Amnesty International concluded that the government failed to ensure that all victims of torture and other abuse had access to effective remedies and redress.

The law provides that no person shall be arrested, detained, or deprived of liberty except by specified procedures and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court. Government agencies generally observed these requirements. The GIA sometimes detained suspects for questioning without charge, but the criminal code requires that a prosecutor supervise all detentions.

The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but some legislators, NGOs and private businesses reported that judicial corruption and third-party influence continued. Courts rarely entered not guilty verdicts or dismissed criminal charges over the objection of prosecutors, even when full trials had produced no substantial evidence of guilt. Courts often returned criminal cases to prosecutors when acquittal appeared more appropriate. For instance, in 2019-20, the appellate court remanded 502 criminal cases to first-instance courts and 269 cases to law enforcement for additional investigation.

In January parliament passed the Law on Judiciary, which invalidated controversial 2019 provisions that gave the National Security Council the authority to recommend: the suspension of judges, subject to the approval of the Judicial General Council; the dismissal of the prosecutor and deputy prosecutor general; and the dismissal of anticorruption agency officials, subject to approval of the parliament. The Law on Judiciary also restructured the Judicial General Council, created an independent Judicial Disciplinary Committee, and stated that this disciplinary committee has the sole right to suspend judges.

The law requires all trials to be open to the public and the press, except for cases involving state secrets, underage defendants, or underage victims. In several cases, however, courts rejected defendants’ requests to open their trials to the public and media, citing lack of space, COVID-19-related social distancing requirements, or both. In such cases the courts generally allowed selected representatives of the press to attend the opening and closing sessions of the trial.

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

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