MONGOLIA: Tier 2
Mongolia is a source and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Mongolian men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor in Turkey, Kazakhstan, and Israel and to sex trafficking in South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Germany, Sweden, and the United States. Mongolian girls employed as contortionists—often under contractual agreements signed by their parents—are subjected to forced labor primarily in Mongolia and Turkey and less so in Hong Kong and Singapore. Women are subjected to domestic servitude or forced prostitution after entering into commercially brokered marriages to Chinese men and, with decreased frequency, South Korean men.
Women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Mongolia in massage parlors, hotels, bars, and karaoke clubs. Traffickers sometimes use drugs, fraudulent social networking, online job opportunities, or English language programs to lure Mongolian victims into sex trafficking. NGOs report a significant number of Mongolian victims from rural and poor economic areas are subjected to sexual exploitation in Ulaanbaatar and border areas. Reports in past years alleged Japanese tourists engage in child sex tourism in Mongolia, but police authorities state such instances no longer occur. Some Mongolian children are forced to beg, steal, or work in the informal sectors of the economy, such as horse racing, mining, herding, and construction, and are sometimes subjected to sex trafficking—often with familial complicity. North Korean and Chinese workers employed in Mongolia are vulnerable to trafficking as contract laborers in construction, production, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, wholesale and retail trade, automobile maintenance, and mining. Purportedly, North Korean laborers do not have freedom of movement or choice of employment and are allowed to keep only a small portion of their wages while being subjected to harsh working and living conditions. Chinese workers have reported non-payment of wages. Previous reports allege corruption among Mongolian officials impedes the government’s anti-trafficking efforts.
The Government of Mongolia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government prosecuted nine cases and convicted eight traffickers, an increase from the one prosecution and one conviction it achieved in 2014. It funded and facilitated numerous anti-trafficking trainings for various government entities and key stakeholders. Government authorities referred 13 potential trafficking victims to an anti-trafficking NGO for assistance and continued dissemination of anti-trafficking awareness messaging on social media and television networks. The government adopted the last of six required implementing regulations for the Law on Victim and Witness Protection, although one of six required implementing regulations for the 2012 anti-trafficking law remained outstanding. The government reduced its already limited victim protection efforts in 2015. It did not report funding victim shelters during the year and remained without formal identification or referral procedures for officials’ use. Although the government revised its national action plan to combat trafficking, the plan remained unimplemented for the third consecutive year.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MONGOLIA:
Establish formal procedures to guide government officials in victim identification and referral to protective services; cease penalizing trafficking victims for offenses committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; allocate funding to support both government- and NGO-run shelters and other forms of victim assistance and protection; monitor working conditions and investigate claims of labor exploitation of foreign contractors employed in Mongolia; enact the remaining regulation needed to fully implement the 2012 anti-trafficking law and train officials on effective implementation; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute all trafficking offenses using article 113 of the criminal code; implement the national action plans to combat trafficking and protect victims; and reduce demand for commercial sex acts, particularly throughout major transportation hubs.
The government increased its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. In December 2015, Parliament adopted a revised criminal code that reportedly incorporated amendments stipulated by the Law on Combating Trafficking in Persons; the revised code awaited pro forma publication at the close of the reporting period. Article 113 of the criminal code prohibits all forms of human trafficking, defines trafficking in accordance with international law, and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for trafficking offenses—sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 124—inducing others into and organizing prostitution—is a more commonly used statute to prosecute suspected sex trafficking cases, although it does not require the element of force, fraud, or coercion; it prescribes less severe penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment. Due to the misconception among many government officials that only girls can be sex trafficking victims, authorities rarely use article 113 or article 124 to prosecute cases in which boys are the victims, but instead use provisions with less stringent penalties. Jurisdiction for anti-trafficking law enforcement remained unclear due to ongoing political tumult and institutional reforms, which strained government capacity and impeded interagency coordination.
In 2015, the National Police Agency (NPA) investigated 14 potential trafficking cases under article 113, one of which it dismissed, compared with eight investigated in 2014. Under article 124, the NPA investigated 16 suspected trafficking cases, two of which it dismissed and 14 of which it recommended for prosecution. The government initiated nine prosecutions and convicted eight traffickers under article 113, an increase from one prosecution and one conviction obtained in 2014; three perpetrators were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Under article 124, the government initiated 27 prosecutions and convicted nine defendants, compared with seven prosecutions and four convictions in 2014. During the reporting period, justice officials funded the Gender Equality Center (GEC) to conduct anti-trafficking training courses for 252 law enforcement officers in five provinces; the government also funded and facilitated training for an unknown number of law enforcement, security, and prosecutorial personnel across the country. Justice officials provided a venue and in-kind support for an externally funded training for approximately 55 investigators, prosecutors, judges, and other stakeholders to improve their general understanding of trafficking and their capacity to effectively investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in trafficking.
The government reduced efforts to protect victims, further weakening its institutional capacity to provide adequate services to trafficking victims. Victims’ services continued to be available principally at two ordinarily government-funded shelters run by the GEC—the only two trafficking-specific shelters in the country. However, during the reporting period, the government did not report funding the GEC facilities, thereby continuing its downward trend in financial support for victim services; it provided 7.90 million tugrik ($4,000) in 2013 and 5 million tugrik ($2,500) in 2014. NGOs provided the vast majority of protection services for victims, including long-term resources, without support from the government. In 2015, the GEC assisted a total of 36 potential sex and labor trafficking victims, compared with 49 potential sex trafficking victims the previous year; 13 referrals originated from law enforcement agencies, while others came from family or friends. In cooperation with the GEC, investigators from the NPA’s Organized Crime Division utilized an 11-question trafficking risk assessment checklist to identify victims proactively among vulnerable populations. However, most government entities remained without systematic procedures for proactive victim identification or referral, which left many victims unidentified and some vulnerable to being punished.
Justice officials adopted the last of six required implementing regulations for the Law on Victim and Witness Protection during the reporting period to provide incentives for victims and witnesses to assist in criminal proceedings against traffickers. However, one of six required implementing regulations for the 2012 anti-trafficking law remained outstanding. Of the 36 potential victims assisted by the GEC, 16 chose to refer their cases for prosecution; some victims were reluctant to do so due to fear of being punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking, including immigration and prostitution violations. Mongolian officials maintained operation of a private victim and witness room at the First District First Instance Criminal Court in Ulaanbaatar; the impact of this feature on prosecutions in 2015 requires further evaluation. Although the government did not identify foreign victims during the reporting period, Mongolian law does not provide legal alternatives to their removal to countries in which they could face retribution or hardship.
The government maintained modest efforts to prevent trafficking. In 2015, the Anti-Trafficking Sub-Council—the official coordinating body for anti-trafficking efforts—expanded its civil society representation and held periodic meetings. During the year, justice officials drafted a new national action plan to span 2016-2021 and supersede the draft plan that remained under review the previous two years. The government approved a separate national action plan for the protection and assistance of victims and witnesses for 2016-2024, although the degree to which authorities implemented it during the reporting period was unknown. For the second consecutive year, the government continued work with an international organization to establish an integrated statistical database. Officials continued to disseminate on social media and television networks a daily public service announcement (PSA) on labor trafficking, in addition to distributing a PSA to police stations in all provinces. Authorities, with assistance from an international organization, funded and distributed passport inserts to Mongolian citizens traveling abroad that provided emergency information for trafficking situations at major transportation hubs and in areas with high population density. Although the government had in place an intergovernmental agreement with North Korea to regulate the annual number of imported North Korean workers and their salaries, the government made no tangible efforts to investigate the labor conditions of foreign contract laborers in Mongolia. The government did not take measures to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts. In 2015, the government provided anti-trafficking training for all peacekeepers in advance of their deployment abroad and required its diplomatic personnel to be familiar with anti-trafficking laws prior to assignment abroad.