The office of the President of Mongolia, Public Relations & Communications Division


Protecting Due Process, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Mongolia

(The President of Mongolia Tsakhia ElBEGDORJ: Summary of the discussions with the leadership of law enforcement agencies)
I address you today regarding the recent debates circulating in Mongolia and the international media over the state of human rights, individual liberties, and the rule of law in our country. Questions have arisen following the legal issues surrounding former president Nambariin Enkhbayar.
First, I must make it very clear that as the President of Mongolia, a constitutionally mandated non-partisan office, I cannot, and would not, advocate for a particular position on the recent arrest and allegations of corruption brought by the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission against former president Enkhbayar. Nor do I have any intention to influence the future decisions of Mongolia’s law enforcement and judicial bodies involved in this case. However, at the same time, I cannot remain silent as many citizens, organizations and political parties have asked for my opinion on this issue.
Therefore, I want to take this moment to talk generally not only regarding the Enkhbayar case, but also on the many other cases on which I have received letters from family members, attorneys and NGOs pertaining to the judicial process in Mongolia. From the moment I took the oath of office, I have sought to improve our judicial system so that it can more effectively protect human rights and individual liberties while combatting corruption and crime. I and my appointed team have not spent a day in office without devoting our thoughts and energies to these important issues.
Let me briefly recount for you the reforms that are part of this process. As you know, in July 2011, I launched the comprehensive judicial reform process and submitted a package of legislationto Parliament carefully designed to improve our nation’s judicial system. Elements of this package that have been approved by Parliament in March include: The Law on Courts, the Law on Legal Status of Judges, and the Law on the Legal Status of Lawyers, The Law on Court Administration, the Law on the Legal Status of Citizens’ Representative in Court Trial, and the Law on Mediation are currently being considered by the Parliament.
We are also working on draft laws to improve the criminal, civil and administrative procedural codes as well as the Law on Police . With my initiative, the Law on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in Public Service—a critical component of my efforts at ensuring the integrity of civil servants entered into effect on May 1, 2012. As you can see, we have made dramatic gains in the legal reform process and the fight against corruption. However, there is much more that can be done to improve our judiciary and the legal process.
You well know that human rights have always been one of my top priorities. It was politically challenging for me to announce a moratorium on the death penalty two years ago. When I made my statement on this issue on January 14, 2010, I faced months of opposition and criticism from the media and some in Parliament and I still see formidable opposition to the idea.
Nevertheless, I firmly believed Mongolia needed to reassess how it approached the question of human dignity and I am pleased to see that public opinion is changing in the right and humane direction--as I had every confidence it would.
The Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty came into effect in Mongolia on March 13, 2012 and will enter into force on June 13, 2012. That ninety percent of Mongolia’s parliamentarians voted in favor of the protocol is striking testament that our nation has become a country where human dignity and individual rights are valued and that we will never again witness the political killings that terrorized Mongolia during communist times.
Today, in relation to recent occurrences and headlines, the public is rising up and demanding an end to corruption that has been eating away at our system for years. In the course of all the above-mentioned challenges, We stand united in the conviction that the foundation for the rule of law in Mongolia is the protection of human rights as written in our Constitution. A violation of one Mongolian’s human rights must be viewed as a violation against the human rights of all Mongolians. The rule of law dictates that the judicial process is applied evenly and equally to all Mongolians.
Law enforcement organizations must be prepared to publically explain their laws and procedures so that citizens understand what law enforcement agencies are doing, why and how it is being done and whether proposed actions are improving human rights and the integrity of the legal process. To that end, I call upon the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Anticorruption Agency, and the General Court decision enforcement office to disclose as much information as is consistent with the law on cases of public interest via their official statements, websites and other public notices. It is essential for the public to know the procedures of law enforcement agencies because only through such open scrutiny can Mongolia continue to improve the rule of law and the public can be confident of, and trust, the decisions of law enforcement officials. We must strive for total transparency within out law enforcement and legal branches.
There remain some old-style attitudes in our government agencies that they should not disclose information that might make them look bad or wrong. I call on the leadership of the judicial sector to disavow that old style and to learn and adopt new, more open, ways of communication with the public as soon as possible. Reporting in plain language, explaining what you are doing and how you are doing it while adhering to the law is an essential mission for public offices, especially for law enforcement agencies.
However a particular case is adjudicated, law enforcement in Mongolia can learn valuable lessons and adopt higher standards only when it operates in the light of public scrutiny. This strengthens our democracy because it makes these government offices accountable to the people.
I am grateful that citizens, free media and even foreign free media are devoting time and resources to covering stories about the rule of law in our country. We need a strong national debate on how to best combat corruption while ensuring the protection of individual legal and human rights. We need strong ethical standards for political office holders.
I commend the concerns and involvement of foreign dignitaries and lawyers for protecting human rights in Mongolia. Mongolia welcomes international human rights watchdogs, NGOs, reporters and concerned lawyers to help improve our law enforcement and the protection of human rights and liberties. Mongolia will also welcome experiences of controlling corruption during periods of steep economic gains and resource exploitation.
With regards to former president Enkhbayar’s case: I call upon law enforcement to provide him humane treatment equal to what any other Mongolian citizen in similar circumstance would be entitled to. I call upon law enforcement to respect his dignity and his rights to not give testimony against himself and his family, and to protect his lawful security and health. I also call for his legal case to be handled in an open and transparent manner and he be provided all the rights due under the constitution. I am sure this will happen, but let’s make sure the process is open so we can see, verify, and be confident in any decision that is handed down from the court. Equal treatment before law is the single most important requirement in any legal case. There must be no “more equal” treatment than “equal” treatment.
Mongolia is a new democracy and we should all be tremendously proud of the gains we have made in just over 20 years. We have many dedicated civil servants and I am proud of their efforts each day to improve our daily lives and make our government function . However, we must ensure that civil servants remain exactly that: servants of the people. We can do this through transparency, strong ethics laws, and most of all a rigorous enforcement structure to hold anyone found to be abusing their position accountable to the people in a court of law. A court where rights are respected and the law applied equally and fairly.
Our future depends on how we protect our precious freedoms, individual rights, and our democratic process. The rule of law, and the defense of human rights is central to our ability to grow, prosper, and remain free.