The office of the President of Mongolia, Public Relations & Communications Division
OPENING SPEECH FOR "JUDICIAL REFORM AND JUSTICE" NATIONAL FORUM TSAKHIA ELBEGDORJ, PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA
Justice is a Universal Cause,
Justice is the golden bond between the people and the state
Uphold justice when in service
I convey greetings of the day to the Members of Parliament, Members of the Cabinet, representatives of all organizations that partake in delivering justice, representatives of non-governmental organizations, business community, representatives and guests of the diplomatic missions in Mongolia.
As my advisor Tsagaan has just said, there were and are still many people who wanted to participate in today’s Forum. This clearly indicates that this Forum is indeed a very important event. At this Forum, in addition to foreign people residing and working in Mongolia, we are also hosting a Kyrgyz Parliamentary delegation headed by the Vice-Speaker of Kyrgyz Parliament. These people are interested in learning from our experiences, they have come to learn from our achievements and failures we made since choosing Parliamentary governance in Mongolia. I address our friends from sunny Kyrgyz from this rostrum that we would be happy to share what we have gone through over the past years, with lessons we have learned and successes we achieved.
In 2-3 brief points, let me share with you the reasons why we decided to organize this Forum today.
The most important goal we have come for is to have everyone speak up. I encourage all who are present here to freely, openly share with us what you have in mind. Let’s speak out loudly what is missing, what is not working out well, what has happened in the past 20 years in our efforts to build a more just society, within the confines of the judicial reforms. All of us, including those people who are watching us on TV, have certain ideas and thoughts about all this. People should propose ideas and initiatives that could to fix problems and rectify wrongdoings. It is important to formulate those ideas effectively and to translate these ideas into reality. What is really missing is implementation and enforcement. There are many people who know what the problems are and what is not working well and also there are many people who do know how to eliminate and resolve these problems. And here again, all these solutions, ideas and initiatives need to be discussed and implemented if found worthy.
Here in this hall we have among us the members of the Parliament, the people who make laws. Also those representing the Government are also present. The Forum is being broadcast live throughout Mongolia. By broadcasting live the proceedings of the Forum we are telling the people in front of screens to watch us speak up and discuss, and by doing so, we want the people participate, be a part of this event.
Everyone has to understand the justice principle. Justice requires compliance, justice requires implementation. Be just while in service. If you are a policeman, then be a just policeman, do your job by law, according to a law. If you are judge, then be a just judge, follow, abide by law. If you are a Member of Parliament, then while in the Parliament please make laws needed for the justice to prevail. Our officials – members of Parliament, governors of aimags – tend to note with surprise how bad our laws are after they leave the office and official posts. A former Member of Parliament, after having realized that he couldn’t be re-elected stated with disdain how unjust the Parliament was. When those once in “thick” clothes start losing their clothing, only then do they realize that justice is missed in the society. So those thickly-clothed officials must establish justice when wearing their clothing, and we must make sure that this happens.
Therefore, be that the President, or Members of Parliament, or Members of Cabinet, a judge, a governor – all must enforce justice while on duty, in office, in service. What is needed for justice to prevail? Just, fair, honest performance of duty. For justice to prevail, the results, the fruits of justice must be visible. You all understand that justice is a value which is measured by performance, by results. I wish to note today that this is now understood, recognized by President, Speaker and Prime Minister.
On April 15, 2010, the National Security Council of Mongolia issued recommendations to intensify Judicial and Legal Reforms and approved the Program to Deepen Judicial Reforms. What this means is that at the state supreme decision making level, the President, Speaker and Prime Minister agreed that the society needs justice, that the judicial reform needs to be intensified and that there is a lot of work to do. That also means that we must all agree to work to make our society just, that we must ensure it happens, that there is a strong political commitment at the highest level and that agreement is proclaimed to the country, to the nation. Now we have the document in place, and it is precisely to translate that document into a reality, a live, participatory reality that we are holding this meeting today.
The President instructed the Government to come up with the laws necessary for the legal and judicial reform. The Parliament has also been instructed to immediately discuss and adopt those laws. The Government must undertake necessary organizational moves and implement the actions stipulated by the relevant finance and budget laws. Now is the time to discuss, speak up, agree and move forward.
What is most notable is that justice and judicial reform are demanded more by those who have no power rather than by those who are in power. Those who lose from the absence of justice in the society, and not those who win from injustice, demand justice. So you see there are two currents, two flows. Those in the political circles, the Parliamentary circle, Government and President’s circles start realizing that the society needs justice. On the other hand, the same demand comes from the people. And because these two currents are flowing into each other, today’s Forum is being taken place.
What can the Mongolian people expect in the coming years?
I would like to address a couple of issues from the economic point of view. Studies conducted by the IMF and other researchers at global development study institutions, indicate that Mongolia will soon become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. No one argues or has doubts about this. Studies also show that Mongolia’s economy is to attain more than a 10% growth rate in the coming years. In 2010 Mongolian Tugrug was the strongest national currency in the world. All of you know this.
Put briefly, wealth, money is being generated around Mongolia. But where are the fruits of all this wealth? One of the three Mongolians remains poor. Some say the poverty rate is 70%. Where, then is the benefit of having the strongest national currency in the world ? What’s the beauty of attaining 10% growth rate? Wealth is being created, but it is not visible, unreachable for a regular citizen, for the people, for ordinary Mongolians. So where is that black hole? Where that evil circle that absorbs the created wealth? We must locate that hole, and close it.
I often say, if 5% of the society is affluent and 80% are poor, that society will not prosper, no flowers will be grown in that society. Should we protect the few riches from the many poors in our society? Or should we protect the poor majority from the rich minority? True, everyone is worried when sustainable development is missed, when prosperity is not achieved. Tracking down the reason why we find ourselves today in such a desperate situation, we conclude that there is, in fact, an absence of justice, an inadequate performance of the Judiciary that caused this whole situation. This is the black hole that absorbs the wealth we create. Who is the winner then? Those in high positions, those with money who can influence the judiciary that are the winners, who are few in fact; others are payers. Others are losers.
Having convened in the State Palace today we are going to talk about the ordinary people; about the 80-90 percent of the Mongolian people, about their interests and benefits. On the other hand, we are going to talk about the people who create the wealth, pay the taxes, and dedicate their labor to Mongolia. Eventually, we will find the solutions upon having discussed the interests and benefits of all parties concerned. Only then can a society develop sustainably and rightly when the wealth is garnered by people, by the society. Development is sustainable when and if its fruits reach the people. Since 1990, Mongolia’s gross national product has increased 20 fold. Yet, was this growth reflected in people’s lives? We have gathered today to respond to this question.
I am truly grateful to the Members of the Parliament who got up early this morning to participate in this National Forum on judicial reform and justice. I am also glad to see hundreds of judges, prosecutors, policemen. Your presence at this Forum is telling of your commitment to making Mongolia a just society.
Justice doesn’t come with wearing a just face.
By now you have probably realized that justice is brought about by work, and not by showing a just face, that it doesn’t come with high seats in high offices, that is doesn’t arrive after a high post is lost.
We have been emphasizing economic wealth. Both this and last year we held economic forums. Mongolia’s coal has become a hot global topic; that Tavan Tolgoi is going to be a huge mine, that its 10% will be given out to the people of Mongolia. The momentum of our Forum on justice and judicial reforms comes amidst these ongoing discourses and discussions for at this very juncture we have to work to ensure that our people’s expectations are resolved to be rightly met, to make our society a right society, and to make the issues the right issues. And for this very purpose it has become imperative to hold this Forum on justice and judicial reform.
I would also like to emphasize another important point. We do pay for ineffective judicial system. Ineffective judiciary entails costs. In a country with ineffective judiciary, where justice is impaired, 10-20% of total investment is wasted. In Mongolia, this number is higher than this! Ineffective judiciary scatters 10-20% of investment away and reduces employment generation opportunities by 10-20%. The people without jobs around us should therefore by now be realizing one of the reasons why they are unemployed. Why? I will tell you why. Because the society lacks justice, the money which otherwise could have been spent to create a job for you was channeled to an official, who might have transferred the money to somewhere outside of Mongolia, and because Mongolia’s wealth is taken out of country, that wealth is used to create a job outside Mongolia; factories and plants are being built beyond Mongolian boundaries, beyond so that products and services are produced while nill is being produced within Mongolian boundaries. “I am unemployed because the Mongolian government, and the Mongolian decision makers do not see this; because they cannot make the judiciary work justly, my life is miserable” – this vicious circle must have already been noted by those unemployed. There is a price, a cost we pay for a bad lawyer, a bad law-making and enforcing institution, for a bad law. Being bad is not only an attribute of such people, organizations and laws. Worse, bad laws and lawyers affect people’s lives, and because of these bad laws and lawyers thousands of Mongolian youth are unemployed. If this was the thought you had in your mind this morning, if this was the reason why you’ve come to the Forum, then the Forum will be a success, will be productive.
The fundamental reason why I am heading the State of Mongolia, why I am the President of this country is because my society needs justice like water, like air, because judicial reform is not taking place in this country. The central topic on my election platform was justice. I link my service precisely with the cause of justice. The message you carried with you today to this Forum is that we need to work to bring about justice is your message to the President, to the Members of Parliament, to the law enforcement officers, a message to all in the Mongolian legal and judiciary system.
According to the Constitution, there is a single official in this country who has a right to represent the entire Mongolian people. The message from the people “Make my society just” addressed to this official is a message to you all. Therefore, the President alone cannot resolve any issue by initiating ideas alone, speaking alone, addressing justice alone. We can work as one only if you realize that the people’s message to the President is in fact a message to you, to every single lawyer in this Hall. We will be able to come up with concrete results once we all gather and speak up, discuss, contemplate, elaborate together.
In 2012 we will hold a Parliamentary election. But there are already many politicians who have already “sweated” campaigning. A proverb “laugh before breakfast, you’ll cry before supper” comes to mind. Those people should understand one point. Whether it’s during the Parliamentary election, or local election campaign, people will ask you one question:”Why is my life this miserable? Why am I unemployed? Why does my society miss justice so badly, dear candidate?” And again, we are holding this Forum so that you can answer them, tell them you held such a forum, such and such laws were changed, such progresses are observed, and that such and such things would change after you are elected; so that you have a response and that you have a job, a work to do. This is how the goal and aim of the Forum should be interpreted at each level of judiciary and legal system.
Those people who are already preparing for the election should note this well. If this is understood, our job, our work will be right. Indeed, the extent to which justice is needed in the society is well understood during the election campaign, and then well forgotten in the three years after election. Let’s put an end to this. Period. Therefore, we are addressing the problems and issues well ahead of time, one year ahead of the election.
Judiciary is changing
Now let me make a few remarks about what progress we have made in our efforts to reform the judiciary, and what opportunities have been created so far.
You would, perhaps, all recall how my request to meet with judges during my presidential election campaign was responded. No, the judges didn’t want to meet. Back then I said, there will be a day when we meet.
The first people I visited and met with after assuming the Presidency were judges. Quite a complicated atmosphere prevailed at that meeting – everyone seemed to be perplexed: was it normal for the President to come and meet them, whether this was appropriate or not. It felt like the judiciary had wrapped itself into a cover. Secluded in their rooms they had forgotten they were a part of society and had distanced themselves from awareness of their very mandate to serve this society.
Recently, I visited some provinces, and do you know who the first ones to ask for a meeting were? A governor would approach me conveying the request of the judges to meet. Now judges are the ones to invite me first. “Mr. President, please do come and visit us, we want to introduce you what we do in order to open up, in order to establish justice and act justly” – this is what I hear first when I arrive in a province. Now prosecutors meet me with a smile. Only now we meet shaking hands and discussing work just like state servicemen ought to do, the people who are mandated to serve for the better life of the Mongolian people. They take me to the rooms they meet with people, to their library and other amenities, they tell me how they answer people’s questions and inquiries. They introduce me to their efforts to support juvenile justice, the way they treat juvenile delinquencies – 2-3 days prior to the court trial they meet the children, advise and listen to them. The courts, the judiciary is indeed changing.
Now, let me address my people. Please do not judge superficially that things are not changing. There are many honest, just lawyers and servicemen in the judiciary who want and can make a difference. Please go and visit the courts. President has done so, this was possible, so now you go and visit, it must be possible, it must be open to you also. Abandon the mindset that people go to courts only for punishments. No, courts are meant to protect your rights. Therefore, perceptions must change. I can see changes, reforms at all levels of judiciary and prosecution. This is critical. Courts and judiciary are a part of the society, and not a separate, alien segment in the society. People’s perceptions about the judiciary are changing. And court’s perceptions about the people are changing as well. Both have to change.
Courts are meant not to charge and punish people, opposite, they are meant to protect human rights, to safeguard social prosperity and progress, and this must be understood and recognized. Today, maybe some 2% of the adult population is being charged by the judiciary, then, on the other hand, judiciary stands to safeguard and support the rights and benefits of the other 98% of the population. Courts and judiciary stand to protect the rights of the overwhelming majority of our society.
The Judiciary and the state are the continuation of the people
We elect our Parliament to make laws by which we, the people, ought to live. If there are certain people who violate, breach the laws, we will apply judicial sanctions, without discrimination. Therefore, we have to interpret the service of the judiciary in a way that while punishing those who disobey law, the bad guys, the judiciary safeguards and defends the rights of the other side, the good people who obey law. We must lay the foundations of our society correctly and must correctly interpret for ourselves the society we are aspiring to build. The previous society we had lived in was the continuation of power, of administration, of command, whereas in the society we build and live in today, the Mongolian state is the continuation of a human being, of people. Courts, judiciary is not a continuation of power, neither of administrative command system, but is a continuation of social harmony and peace. A public/state organization is not the continuation of power and authority. I am, we are the continuation of a man, of humans, of the interests, wishes and hopes, dreams and aspirations of the Mongolian people.
If such a mindset is instilled in all of us, legal and judicial organs will start performing correctly. On the other hand, legal and judicial organizations are not the defenders of power and authority, nor they are a tower, a castle of authority. They are not the organization to protect the authority from people. It was true once, but now this has been changed, so that they are an organization to protect the people’s rights and interests from those in power and authority. Now legal and judiciary organizations have become organizations to protect the civil rights, human rights, rights of regular citizens from the wrong decisions of governors and officials. Therefore, your roles have changed fundamentally. It is important to be able to see this fundamental change. This change is complete if this is all understood by those officials in the government, by politicians and political officials. This is first point I wanted to emphasize.
Second, a just court, just legal and judiciary organization do not only safeguard human rights and freedoms, but also guarantee a country’s development and prosperity. They do not only deal with one particular, single individual citizen in the society, but stand to secure that human rights and liberties are enjoyed by all. Whether the country will develop or not depends on whether justice is established in that society, whether legal and judiciary organs in that country perform well and work justly. Therefore I say judiciary is a guarantee for social development and progress. The laws a just society makes serve people’s rights and interests. If the laws to protect civil rights are enforced without discrimination and bias, if justice is enforced, people’s lives improve and social wealth is distributed rightly and justly. If the wealth in the society is rightly spent, the country is destined to achieve prosperity. This is the aftermath of establishing justice in the society.
A Human being can’t stand discrimination
We all know what a man, a human being doesn’t appreciate. I have visited many provincial sites, soums, and people. Those who shout out for revolution are few. People demand not a revolution, but justice and you all know this. You also know what they do not like and despise. Few ask for the Grace of the Nation and Treasure share, for the 10% of share in deposits. What the Mongolian people despise is discrimination, prejudice, favoritism. People know that justice is missed, that those with money, with official position and power are treated one way and the ones without money and power are treated the other way.
“The judge greeted with smile the person who just came to visit him, a man with lots of money. When I came to see him, he threw scrap to my face” – isn’t it a common complaint? This is what people hate. We should never allow this to happen. Courts must follow and be governed by laws just like ordinary citizens should. The laws made in consistency with people’s rights, must be followed by judges, prosecutors, police officers, political officials, and civil servants.
People do tolerate miseries incurred by their own choice, own rights. They say “well, I blame myself for my miseries, but I will survive”. Yet they cannot tolerate and bear miseries incurred by misdeeds of the State. People just can’t stand and survive state’s interference into their life, the wrong interference of the government into their life whatever good pretexts the State has for this intrusion.
There is another issue that the judiciary must understand. Whenever an issue arises, our officials run to the upper level officials or bosses, or to one of the political parties, to the people with money and connections. Judicial independence is not brought about by personally knowing the bosses, it is brought by your service to the people. You, judges, are independent if the society supports and favors you. Injustice will prevail if you keep taking junk gossip to the bosses and have them engage and decide on the side of injustice, if you are seen as if under custody of bosses.
If you carry out your mission in front of the society by law, if you implement law and serve as a genuine serviceman ought to, the society’s support shall guarantee your independence. This must be understood by all. A word of the people is their support. If I hear from an ordinary citizen in the countryside that our courts are doing well, our police officers are serving well, our law enforcement organs are performing well, this judgment of the citizen I will take as right. Otherwise, it’s not right when you yourselves tell me you are doing well.
There is a saying among my people, move a big stone with a small one. I keep telling the courts, if you make a right decision today, post the news on your website the next day. At every site where a court works, you must open and maintain a website, and post all the information, all your decisions on the web, except for closed trials. The courts in aimags have already started displaying their decisions open to the public. The resolutions and decisions you make today must become available to the public knowledge immediately, the next day. This will heighten judges’ responsibility for the decisions they make. “My judgment, the decision I am making now shall become known not only to three persons in the hall, but to 30 thousand peoples in the street. Most likely, President’s advisor shall read it online. President himself could be watching me, thus, what laws and statutes should I rely on when making my final decision” – should go the logic of a judge. Since the judge becomes this responsible and meticulous about his acts and decisions, his acts and decisions become lawful, and since court decisions are just and lawful, the society becomes just and lawful. Such starts have already been observed. So my message to you is that please be this scrupulous in your service every day, and not for the occasions when President comes to visit you.
Reforms progress thanks to small thing, small moves, small changes. Opening up court’s information and decisions to the people also ignites the reform. We need to amend the laws in a way to support this move, such a change. Openness and enlightenment always prevents hidden, secret, dark conspiracies and plots.
Justice is measured by performance, by fulfilling duties
One important issue to emphasize when addressing justice is the way we should measure justice. Justice is measured by the fulfillment and accomplishment of duties. Justice does have a measurement, and the measurement is performance, results, effects. I have learned this in my own case – in my political life. If I ask any one person in this hall to come forward and name one by one what I had achieved in my two terms of service as the Prime Minister, there might not be many people to do so, however some people do remember some of my decisions in my short Premiership to establish justice in the society.
They say “back then you fought with such and such groups, and in such and such organizations you fought against corruption”. So people know, people do remember. This means that any act for justice is measured and measurable by results and leaves a footprint. We should be addressing justice not only at the stages and podiums of conferences and forums, justice necessitates concrete actions, decisions and results. Establishing justice, combating corruption and bribery, fighting all kinds of evils is not something a coward would do. It is not a business of an evil man. And what is most revealing from my past 20 years of political life is that people know this. Therefore, justice is not measured by a just face and number of statements and announcements made, it is measured by concrete acts, and their results.
On an international arena, countries’ competitiveness is measured by the extent of implementation and enforcement of law. The most critical measurement of competitiveness of any country is law enforcement. Because justice is so perceptible when present, and so missed when absent, no wonder why countries are compared by this very factor of justice.
I recall noting one point when meeting with judges:”The decision a man makes for himself is the strongest decision of all!” I would call everyone in this hall to make a decision for him- or herself. When swearing in office on June 18, 2009, I told the people, bribery and corruption are done away with. Today I am asking you, did you put an end to it? Now let us all realize, we must and we did put an end to these evils. There goes even a song:” Am done with going loose”. Mongolian society has had enough injustice. Your decision to start making changes in your work, in your performance, your decision to show the people how a law can be implemented, how people’s interests can be served well from today on, from this Forum onwards, shall be the strongest decision ever. My people, let us make such a decision today!
I am glad that the judges came together and issued a Declaration of Justice. I see this as that very strong decision I am talking about. Every judge in the rural Mongolia has it printed in large letters and posted on his wall, and reads the lines when changes dress in the morning to go to work. Such a commitment, such decisiveness is being generated. Following your rightful decision, your mind and mindset shall become right. Our traditional Buddhist religion preaches so as well – if you want to get rid of evil and start practicing right, make your mind right. To make your mind right, make right decisions for yourself, and this will further lead to right goals and objectives. Following right decisions, you will start performing rightly. Following right actions, you will start seeing right outcome, right results. This must be the way we go. And I understand, our legal and law enforcement organs are heading this way too.
And these right practices must be made into law. Certain works are being done in this direction already. Court of appeals of administrative cases has been established. This is indeed a big task and a remarkable move. Now an ordinary citizen or any entity has a place to go if his or her interests and benefits are infringed by wrong decisions of administrative officials. Now we have a place where such complaints can be addressed and resolved. By establishing a court where wrong decisions of state administrative organs are repealed we are putting an end to an era when those people in administration of state and political establishments were ruling the world. The direction of wind has thus changed.
The chain of criminal groupings is being broken
There were times when Mongolian law and enforcement organizations looked like a cluster of criminal groupings – Ulaanbaatar grouping, capital city grouping, that school grouping, or that man’s grouping. Issues would be discussed, resolved and large crimes would be chased among and around the leaders at the political circles, at the city court, at the Supreme Court, at the general prosecutor’s office. Is it a lie? Deals involving big money, forging cases together, solving such cases, trading with cases, and even the advocates would be pulled into this dirty game. The authority and leaders of organizations which were meant to terminate such practices and cases were already a part of the entire web. This was once a reality. Now, this chain is breaking apart, I would state again here, we will make sure that this chain is in ruins. At all levels, such practices must be ended.
And again, recalling my recent visit to countryside: at a public meeting, an ordinary citizen stands up and says: “Our general judge works as if he were the legal department head of our governor’s office”. What is such a judge with such beliefs doing there? The aimag governor office, and the aimag police office, plus the aimag’s court and the prosecutor have all merged into one, and formed a “cozy little local mafia”.
Another case: there is a truly devious governor in Khentii aimag. This governor makes a decision and the Khentii aimag court can’t discuss and resolve a case against the governor. The case is brought to a different aimag’s court. There were three court sessions on the governor’s case, and all happened to take place in courts outside Khentii aimag. What is going on? What does this mean? Court can’t resolve, can’t even discuss the case. Today, an official makes a decision to fire a staff from position, the staff appeals to court which that rules the official must put the staff person back to work. the official hires the staff back today but then dismisses staff person a day later, hires back at 1 p.m. and dismisses at 1.05 p.m. A person came to meet with me which was dismissed from work 10 times in this manner. This official humiliates the State! He humiliates the people of Mongolia. Here I am not talking about the person himself, but am addressing the act, the very act of insult, insult into the face of judiciary. Just imagine how much effort and work goes into making a court decision. Imagine how much work, what huge amount of work is done to establish justice in the society. And here is a case of a governor whose act cannot be decided at the aimag. This is a real case that happened and still happens in Mongolia.
I do not exclude the possibility and probability of such acts happen at soum level. The acts of cronyism, the practice of having issues resolved through connections: if you failed to enroll in the circle of relatives and friends of the political official in the soum or aimag, you are always marginalized, you are always thrown out. The ones in the circle always do well, being promoted to a posting in the city. This must be rectified. And we should start reforming from both ends – from the bottom and the top simultaneously. The aimag and soum governors who are now listening to my talk should bring people in your neighborhood together and speak to them. The citizens should voice their demands, saying that the President told them to do so.
There are many things that are still not working properly. We are all working to fix and rectify the wrong practices, attitudes and approaches. I said earlier, we will put an end to these practices. End. Period. Let us all put a Period mark. And a Forum is held to confirm and secure through our laws that we put an end to wrong deeds.
We should put an end to the greed and craving for wealth and power. We must realize that behind the criticism made by the people, rests genuine wealth and power. We should bear in mind – tough and bitter words come from strong feelings. Our parents tell their children – if a person says you bitter words, that person wishes you good. Beware of honey-tongued talk. Those people loose and slack will sink one day with his friend “skating on oil”. Let me tell you one thing. The public does and can change the situations it doesn’t like. We cannot run an election in the judiciary. However, the people elect the President, and therefore this reform is to take place. Through me, by electing me, people wanted reform. I understand people’s electing me as the President as delegating me to be their reform agent. The people also designated the Great Khural to be the agent of reforms because the people elected the khural to address justice. The people, the public indeed change the things they don’t like. To allow this to happen, to provide such a possibility, I am talking about democracy and human rights at this rostrum today.
The State should be a role-model of good
An odd situation has emerged in Mongolia. When an official is held accountable, even the media’s eyes go round, in surprise. An ordinary citizen is dismissed, kicked out whenever the boss pleases, punished, fined, arrested, charged, and nobody cares for him, no one says a word for him. But when the same thing happens to an official, everybody is surprised – “such things never happen that a cow goes dancing!” This is bad, this sets a wrong example. The people see it, they say “lions to the people, but kittens to the kings”.
The State should be an example, a model of good practices, good behavior, and is not an example of bad. If the State is bad, if it is conspirative and plotty, if it nurtures irresponsibility and favoritism, it degrades the society. The more we fluff up the bads, the odds, the uglies in the State, the better the society looks and acts. We need to clean out the “ dirt” once and for all. The result is a the cleaner State. The State exists not to dictate and oppress the people, but just the opposite, it exists to serve the people. What is the sole duty of the President? To serve you. President is not meant for dictatorship at all, not for suppressing the people.
People in the political circles often say people are prejudiced about the state and discuss ways to enhance people’s trust and confidence in the state. The real, vital bond between the state and the people rests in establishing justice in the society and improving the performance of the judiciary. Some elders were very angry about digging earth for gold saying that the bond with the earth was being broken. That could be true. If justice is gnawn and nibbled, the bond between the people and the state is broken apart. So the gold, the asset, the richness of any society rests with justice. The golden bond between the people and the state is justice. And this bond has to prevail, has to be maintained and taken care of.
When talking about justice, we can’t say everything is perfect, is 100% in place. Yet we have to aspire to 100% perfection. Some may argue that there is no such thing as perfection. But I must tell you, there is a 100% decision. And that is a court decision. A final decision, and it does exist. No one can change it, no one argues with it, right? That is a court decision. And it is the judiciary, you, who make such decisions, who establish the final, ultimate truth and justice. This truth and justice is created by thousands of you, you all together mold justice in this society. The decisions you make will be right only if your decisions are just, if you serve and decide on the people’s side.
I heard that in some countries, when a judge passes by, people stop and let the judge go by. You see, judges are this much respected, are held this dear and sacred in the people’s minds. A pole at the border line is so sacred for the people, no one ever tries to dig the pole away, because this pole is a sacred pole which safeguards the motherland. Similarly, judges are safeguards of the social wellbeing. This is the respect the people pay you. When a judge enters the session hall, everybody rises. With people rising to your entrance, people’s trust and confidence in you rise as well. So at the court session what if your judgment pours water on the people’s trust in you? You must encourage, you must lift this confidence up with your rightful judgment. I am saying all this precisely within these confines.
A case involving Mongolia should be resolved not in London, but in Ulaanbaatar
I expect you to discuss many different issues at a number of sub-sessions. One of the issues that you should touch upon would be the selection of judges. The ones who collected the most number of votes at the General Council of Courts are submitted to the President. This must be changed now. The tendency today is such that he who gets the support of the majority of GCC becomes a judge. Now scores must be given for how many cases the candidate resolved at the primary level courts, what the quality of judgments were, what the capacities and competencies of the candidate are, what his education, ethics are, whether he or she bears any conflict of interests etc. Score and rate the candidates. The best ones will be distinguished anyways. A good judge is to be identified in this manner. As the President of the country, I want to appoint good judges. Different sets of criteria must be set for aimag, district and Supreme Court judges. The respect, the confidence I talked about earlier will be forged only and if a judge is selected upon those performance and competence criteria. Both you and the society will be better off if such criteria are applied, together with these criteria, you will arrive respect, integrity, a good name.
All social phenomena, events, activities are measured, have measurements. These days we talk a lot about mining, about stocks and securities, investment, damages and offences. How well all these are understood by our judges? These concepts have evolved as academic as natural sciences. But how well are people informed and educated about them? I hope you will address the issue at one of the sessions today. At a meeting with foreign investors, investors said:”We were going Mongolian way, a Mongolian road. But you just said there is no Mongolian road. We are glad to hear that. But what do you mean by “a Mongolian road”?” I responded:“Mongolian road means a road of connections. If you want your issues resolved in Mongolia, people you know, who you know in the courts, which bosses you know, matters a lot”. So now, there is no such a thing as a Mongolian road, instead we have Mongolian rules, rules of law and justice.
We say YES to Rule of Law and NO to Road of Mongolia. So all foreign citizens in Mongolia should understand and recognize this principle. Mongolians should be equally educated about stocks and securities, about issues foreigners talk about. If foreigners talk about bribing, we should have answers, we shouldn’t let this happen. So if a foreign entity, a foreign person had his issues and problems resolved by bribing, that person has no right to work in Mongolia. This is a condition set by the President, so let’s set the same condition at all levels. Let’s not let those foreigners lead our society, our judiciary in a wrong way, in a wrong direction. We must make sure that our issues are resolved here in Ulaanbaatar and not in London. Cases and disputes involving Mongolia, Mongolian entities must be resolved here, in Mongolia.
For this to happen, we must improve our laws, educate our people and set high criteria and benchmarks. Everyone has to do his best. Mongolians are talented people. For a small-numbered people to live such a life is one of the indicators of the giftedness of the Mongolian people. Therefore, we can do it. We can have the cases involving Mongolia and Mongolian entities resolved in Mongolia, and if some other countries cannot resolve their cases, let them come to Mongolia to have them decided here. We can do it for you. I hope we can attain that level of capability. This would further entail addressing a chain of other issues such as judges’ ethics and responsibility, budget of the judiciary, economic security, standards, independence etc. If you, judges, come and ask me whether I would accept if you all together choose the best, most competent and fit lawyer to be the Head of the General Council of Courts, I would say Yes, I accept.
In addition, there are many nuances that we have to look at very carefully. When I ask for responsibility and accountability, you say, yes, we do have accountability. But when I read the law, I do not see anything written down in the law what accountability measures are to be applied for what specific failures, misdeeds and mistakes. Or, in other cases, the mistakes and faults are listed, but the accountability is deliberately ignored, and there are opposite cases – a single word appears - Accountability, with no sanctions and offences that would be part of the accountability. And that is why there is no ownership. Thus, what I propose is to have a law which provides for accountability, which holds those officials, how ever high ranking post he or she may hold, for their established acts of trying to influence and interfere in court’s affairs. Let us include such provisions into the law, and let us discuss the issue here today.
Courts place a huge red-tape burden on people, so let us adopt methods whereby the procedures are simplified. We are ready to adopt a constituency system of courts. Many cases at courts are returned for investigation and for case filing, and we are now talking about terminating such practices. If the case is incomplete, it has to be closed and that’s all, and if it’s filed completely, then go ahead and resolve it. In that way we will eliminate such malpractices at our judiciary to have a citizen run back and forth for years, without having the case resolved. And if you ask me whether the President is ready to join hands with the judiciary to start this reform, I firmly say “yes, I am ready”.
Courts can pioneer the reforms.
For how long must we dangle in indecision? Of the entire judiciary system, the closest and ripest for the reforms, the most receptive are in fact the courts. Therefore, I spoke more about courts today. And the majority in this hall would agree that courts are ready and can pioneer the judicial reform. The courts are indeed ready for reforms.
Let’s change the law first. Around those already developed 4 draft laws on courts, on General Council of Courts, on judges, let’s start the reform of the courts as a judicial institution.
Then let’s move onto the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedures Law, the two laws most used by judges. Maybe, if you try to overhaul the entire law, it might be hard as we will have to deal with hundreds and hundreds of provisions on hundreds of pages; then let’s do the necessary changes, and invalidate the provisions that are not needed at all. So first courts, second the laws used by courts, third, organizational and structural matters (another headache for us) – could go the list of items on our judicial reform agenda. I will return to these issues later. Some of our police officers could now be worried about whether they would be segregated and that organizational reshuffle might disturb them. No worries, nothing of that sort will happen.
Things will come to order as we move along this planned, phased, carefully thought agenda. It is inevitable that all these reforms take place. System, structural, organizational issues can be addressed toward the later stages of the reform. The reason I am emphasizing the terms “system, and structure’, is that small issues might also lead to small problems with big ramifications. As you are all aware, the Russian Federation established an Investigation Committee. Recently, Russia restructured it into a separate department. And the reason is, Russia separates its Investigation issues under a separate individual department. We like to echo our neighbor. Especially interesting for us are the reforms now taking place in the Russian Federation.
In Mongolia investigation and interrogation are in one single process. In fact to investigate and to interrogate are two separate procedures. First, in order to establish whether a person committed a crime or not, he or she is investigated, followed, watched, examined, evidences are looked for, carefully observed, and if the person had really committed a crime, after such investigations he cracks. What happens in Mongolia, we start interrogating the person immediately. The person is detained and arrested, we rush to take the person to the detention center most widely known as Gants Khudag.
No investigation is done. We learn of investigation process from foreign TV movies, movies about detectives. But is it right? Should we be watching movies and reading books about how detectives, investigators work in other countries? In Mongolia the suspect is arrested right away, and the next day he is interrogated and the following day he is a convict. Of course, the case is supported by a few evidences and testimonies of a witness. The case is filed (as if taking a lunch break with housewives to gossip) upon hastily collecting few notes and testimonies by witnesses, and done deal.
A few words about litigation during the trial. Who is going to litigate – a prosecutor? What would he say, “Well, this person is lying”? Litigation bases upon facts, visible, tangible, perceivable, objective facts, and not on someone’s words. In Mongolia, the latter is a case. Because the case is filed based on merely words, litigation, litigators never come to play.
So therefore I am calling you to look into yourselves, into your daily routine work, the way you work. If we let such injustice, irresponsibility, disownership happen, it is our mistake, our fault. And these mistakes and faults have to be rectified, eliminated immediately. Yet, this is something that can be done at the later stages of reform. Let us not distract each other at this juncture with these concerns. Let’s begin with issues that affect, that concern a citizen, the people. If our law, judiciary and enforcement institutions can indeed begin the reform, only then shall we become a humane, a just, a civil society. Otherwise, we will remain with the current, soviet-type structures which safeguard power and authority. The word “Soviet” comes from a Russian word “Sovet”, which literally means a council comprising of elected to that council few officials. And the legal and judiciary structure of the Soviets was such that it would protect and safeguard the decisions of the soviets, because they believed the soviets made the rightest decisions and that they were the true leaders. If you want me to apply the same language to our situation, that soviet machinery is still functioning in Mongolia. It is YOU who must change this and who must serve the interests and benefits of each and every single individual Mongolian citizen.
Because this system is still present, Mongolia’s law and judiciary system and policies, people say, are becoming more oligarchic-friendly, prison-friendly and that the army of colonels is growing. Is this a reality? Is this true? Now, shouldn’t we stop all this? The load on the camel caravan in uneven, the loads are too heavy on one side. Now let’s stop the caravan, let’s get rid of the old load we are carrying, and speaking of which, camel caravan is not used any more, right? You know this. So, let’s do away with past practices. We must do away with the leftovers from the Jurassic age, with the shocking footprints of the previous system. After many years of hard work and toil, we cast a look at our judiciary and realized that our judiciary is not a problem solver at all, but is a problem itself.
A cluster of separate problems in each of their buildings of investigation, of policing, of interrogating. But we must realize, we are talking about one same person, his rights and liberties, his destiny after all. It’s Dondog’s life, it’s Dulmaa’s life. These separate buildings are interconnected through sewerage water pipes, but they cannot connect with each other when solving the fate of one person. Therefore, this tie, this connection, this integrity must be established. And please realize, on the surface we are talking about huge institutions, in fact, behind all these talks, we mean serving to a poor skinny woman whose rights and liberties are threatened and infringed upon.
We may not let a court exist decisions of which are not enforced.
And now a few words about court decision enforcement. Today, of all kinds of court decisions, the enforcement rate is highest, over 90 percent, for decisions to detain and imprison. And can you guess, where is the lowest rate of enforcement? Have you heard of alimonies? Child support money. And the enforcement rate here is 9%. What conclusion do we make? We conclude on the way we work. It turns out that we are a country which does not enforce alimonies. If we calculate the average of the range, 90 being the maximum and 9 being the minimum, our overall court decision enforcement rate is less than 50%! A country with courts of half-enforced decisions, a country of half a court. Then, in a country of half a court, we have half-justice. And you know well, which side, whose rights this half serves.
Recalling the case of a governor I talked about earlier, people such as that governor do not enforce court decisions. Please amend the law in a way that sanctions are imposed on officials who do not enforce court decisions. Otherwise, the situation will remain like this, right? If a court made a decision, this decision must be enforced. One full hundred percent. Current enforcement rate is 50%, and when it comes to child money, it is only 9%. Does a Mongolian court have a human face, a child face? What face in fact do Mongolian courts have? Yes, it does wear an iron face for certain instances, but when it comes to human rights, children’s rights, court decisions are brushed aside and tramped.
Another procedure that is largely ignored is operational investigative activities. Control over such activities, control of the technical devices, permissions and orders are in a mess in Mongolia. Operational investigative activities are no longer a means of blackmailing someone. Therefore, we must change laws on these activities. As you see and realize now, we have a lot to discuss. The issues must be dealt with, must be discussed and resolved. When I was working on my speech for today, my advisor shared with me that this was indeed a special event, a great occasion that we all gather today and speak. True, this is indeed a special occasion. What a great occasion it is that we are all here, and discussing our work, after 21 years! Isn’t it the time to speak up? Of course, the time was long overdue.
Just, honest life is a matter of pride
You are all a part of this special occasion today. I see many senior lawyers, judges, scholars, prosecutors in the hall. I am also thrilled to see the youth – students, young graduates, young lawyers. I see my people, ordinary citizens. So the timing is right, the atmosphere is fit, now let’s move and correctly. Therefore, once again, this is truly an auspicious occasion.
Now, you please speak up. But be focused, be specific and concrete. We shall talk about other things tomorrow. Herders, our cattle – all for tomorrow. Today let’s talk about judiciary. If we are precise and concrete about what works and what doesn’t work, the remedies will be put in law tomorrow. The next day, throughout Mongolia these laws will be enforced. These laws and their enforcement will make our lives, the lives of our children better. The mess should be cleaned up today. We cannot afford to leave this mess on the shoulders of our children, of our future. When I meet and speak with some of you, some say “let bygones be bygones. My life is bygone. Just wish my children live a better life”.
It is our duty to establish order, to clean the mess. If we created a mess in the society, it is our duty to clean after ourselves. We must work to create the best living conditions for our future generations. Our errors, failures and mistakes must be corrected by ourselves.
All this makes us realize that justice, judiciary is a collective human value, social asset. It is universal. Our people like memorizing by heart slogans. Now here is a slogan. Mongolia is going to be rich and affluent. This wealth is to be created by all of us, Mongolians. And the people have to enjoy this wealth. And what magic makes the wealth accessible, affordable, reachable for the people? This magic is justice. A man lives a dignified life, a wealth is enjoyed by people only then when justice prevails in the society. What makes a society humane and civil? Again, it is justice. Therefore, justice is a universal value that must dwell through generations, that must exist in past, present and future.
My people must take pride in being just, living justly, and safeguarding justice. I wish justice becomes the supreme pride of my people.
And finally, let’s agree on one point – let’s live a beautiful life in Mongolia. Let’s live in a healthy and just society. It is our mission to make this a reality. And with this, I announce open the National Forum on justice. I wish success to all of you.
April 14, 2011
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