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Byambadorj: “There have been instances when pregnant women, who have traveled overseas and have given birth, return home and no one knows what happened to their babies”

To the World Human Rights Day – 10 October

The Mongolian Observer had requested J. Byambadorj, Commission of the National Human Rights of Mongolia for an interview. Commissioner Byambadorj said that recently he had given an interview to the daily Ödriin Sonin (Daily News) and asked us to translate and reprint the interview which dealt with the status of human rights in Mongolia in the light of the annual national human rights report that his Commission has submitted to the Parliament for consideration. Following is the interview, abridged and modified.

    The Parliament, to date, has not considered the Human Rights Report which was submitted last spring. At a recent briefing at the Human Rights Sub Committee in the Parliament you touched upon some serious issues of human rights violations. Can you, please, elaborate?
As an independent human rights body, one of the important works of our Commission is to develop an annual report on the status of human rights in the country and submit the same to the State Ikh Khural before the end of the first quarter of the year. Accordingly, we submitted to the Parliament the annual report in late March this year. However, to date the Parliament has not discussed the report, which takes up a number of matters of serious human rights concern. For instance, human rights violation is serious in terms of employment. Child rights, including the rights of girls are a matter of serious concern.
I am hopeful that the Parliament will review this report soon and in a serious manner.
Our Commission, together with UNFPA, relevant state organizations and CSOs, is monitoring and studying these issues that have exposed serious facts to light. In some cases, they are so confidential that they must be taken up at the level of the National Security Council.
In view of this, I sincerely hope that the Parliament will, without further delay, consider the human rights issue at the soonest.

 You said that there are matters that need to be taken up at the level of the National Security Council. Can you please elaborate?
Girls rights issue has become a pressing national security matter. We have in our possession facts and figures that are extremely alarming. Frankly speaking, I could not sleep after learning about them. Just very recently, there were reports in the media that a four-month-old baby girl was molested by a mentally ill man. Her mother, who is an alcoholic, could not protect her daughter. This is what we know from the media which has become public. As a matter of fact, girls of minor age are prime victims of rape.
The latest 16th Human Rights Report says that in 2016 and 2016 almost 300 girls were raped and molested. And when we look at the facts as who the victims are, how old are they and who the perpetrators of this detestable crime is, one cannot be but seriously concerned and alarmed.

    Underage girls, as young as 12, are becoming mothers. Pregnancy among girls aged between 12 and 17 is high. This proves that girls of this age are either victims of rape or are being forced to sexual exploitation, and the perpetrators have to be, no doubt, brought to criminal justice. The so-called perpetrators are being punished falling short of filing criminal charges against them, which is few and far apart. In the last 2 years alone 1,618 adolescent girls had given birth and only 298 related cases were investigated under the criminal code. On top of this, the number of adolescent girls going for abortion has increased. Those girls who are unable to go for medical-assisted abortion are resorting to self-induced abortion since over-the-counter medication is easily and freely available in the country.
Girls are bring provided free medical check-ups but behind this their rights are being violated.  The fact is that the inspecting doctors share their patient’s information with their teachers rather than their parents or guardians. Consequently, not only their rights are being violated but the girls are being exposed to more serious risks.
An example. A girl in a rural area was molested and the perpetrator had disfigured her face and the victim could not continue with her schooling in her village and so moved to the city with her family. A medical check-up for girls was organized at her new school. The doctor told her teacher about her past and the teacher in the presence of her class-mates called her all kinds of names. The girl is now in a serious mental condition. She is back in her rural village and her parents have filed a case. Why would a doctor tell the girl’s parents about their daughter’s health situation but tell their teachers?
Psychologically, girls who have given birth at an early age, who have gone through abortion tend to be extremely sensitive. Girls who are committing suicide are also related to this

There are reports that pregnant Mongolian women are traveling overseas and returning without their babies. Is this true?
The Law on Human Trafficking was adopted by the Parliament in 2008 with the active involvement of our Human Rights Commission.
I personally trust that child trafficking has stopped.
Today, official parental consent is demanded should an underage child cross the border. If the child is being accompanied by his mother then the mother must produce an official consent of the father – her husband, and vice versa. However, it’s not possible to monitor grown-up adults.
Recently P. Oyünchimeg, a member of NHRC, leading a team visited the Chinese city of Erlian across the Mongolian border, where serious cases occur. I cannot go into the details of some of them. When a woman is three-month pregnant, pregnancy is hardly visible. There have been instances when pregnant Mongolian women have travelled overseas and have returned home and no one knowing what happened to her baby.
Therefore, border and immigration officers should and must demand where the baby is if they know that a pregnant woman who had crossed the border returns without a child.

At the beginning of the interview, you referred to rights violations in terms of employment. What are they and what are the consequences?

This issue takes the top place when it comes to human rights violation.
More than 90 percent of the Mongolian live on their salary and pensions. However, a legally employed person is subject to maltreatment and pressure, the person can be dismissed from work without any adequate justification. Law is violated. Workers are shocked and some time they may resort to committing suicide.

    Labor issues of some special category of civil servants such as servicemen in the military and the police, workers of court decision agencies have been raised which means that relevant laws and legislation must be streamlined.
Another issue related to gender. Every second year we include in our report the status of implementation of related laws and legislation.
There are many legal issues that need to be considered. Some are on the right track, while some are not. Just one example. The Law against Domestic Violence took a while before it was finally adopted, according to which henceforth a husband who has committed a crime of domestic violence can be arrested and sentenced.
The Labor Code must be amended without delay. We receive many complaints related to non-payment of salary. For example, new employees are put on a 14-day so-called probation period and even after they are made to work for a month or so, they are asked to leave without any pay because the employers have found them not suitable.
This is tantamount to exploitation. So, labor contract must be made before everything else.

Is there cyber human rights violation in the country?
A cyber environment is important from the standpoint of obtaining information. Alongside good stuffs on the internet, violence is being promoted online. Children are putting up each other’s photos on the social media and are insulting each other. Prostitution and sexual abuse are happening through online communication. Girls who have made friends online are becoming victims of rape.

The society is increasingly saying yes to the reinstatement of capital punishment because increasing number of minor-age children are becoming rape victims. Your position?

    I don’t wish to delve into this matter as the question of capital punishment has not been taken up officially.
In 2012 Mongolia ratified the Second UN Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
I am sure since we have acceded to and ratified this treaty, then there won’t be the question of invalidating it. I do not know of such a practice globally.

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