1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: Mongolia is one of few democratic countries in the region and in general, Mongolia has a good human rights record. Its political system was relatively stable in 2018; the major event was the resignation of four Ministers for mismanagement and corruption. The revelation of corruption cases in a public Fund for Small and Medium Enterprises in 2018 was an indicator of the freedom of press but also of the poor management of public funds. Concern remains about corruption within the judiciary. The main human rights issue continues to be death penalty. It was removed from the Mongolian Criminal Code in 2017; however, in April 2018 President Battulga reiterated his initiative to restore the death penalty to perpetrators of child abuse. Reintroduction of death penalty would go against Mongolia's international commitments. Child abuse is a significant problem and consists principally of domestic violence and sexual abuse; cases are not declining. The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia (NHRC) continues to lack capacity. It received around 800 complaints in 2018. The top three issues were violence against children, complaints on mining companies and on labour rights. A revision of the Law on the NHRC to address shortcomings was submitted to the Parliament in the autumn of 2018. On disabilities, the most pressing issues according to Non-governmental Organisations are accessibility, independent living, access to education, access to employment and lack of data. The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia also submitted a report where it views the enforcement of the right to education for children with disabilities as insufficient. To improve the juvenile justice system, the Law on Promotion of Youth Development entered into force on 1 January 2018.
2. EU action - key focus areas: The EU's priorities for 2018 continued to be labour law, courts and lawyers, administration of justice and law enforcement, and strengthening of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
On Labour Law, the ILO, in partnership with the EU, continues to provide technical assistance and policy advice to Mongolia in tripartite review of the revised labour law. Not all provisions in the draft law that is now with the Parliament have received the endorsement of the social partners.
On courts and lawyers, ILO experts led a training seminar for 35 members of the Mongolia Bar Association (judges, prosecutors, legal advocates and legal educators), under and EU-financed project in June 2018. This training was dedicated to issues related to child labour and forced labour conventions.
In the area of rule of law (administration of justice and law enforcement), since October 2017, the EU Delegation has been implementing a project to improve the application of human rights conventions in the criminal justice system and strengthening the capacity of the General Prosecutor’s Office to adapt to the new Criminal Code. Under the project three conferences took place in 2018: on the implementation of human rights (January), on causes of violence against children and youth (June), and on the need to establish a full-fledged juvenile justice system in the country (November 2018). The three conferences ended with a concrete set of recommendations.
The EU also is implementing three projects to support the capacity of CSOs with a focus on rural areas. The overall objective of the project in Khenti Province is to enhance the participation of civil society organizations in the agriculture sector so as to contribute to inclusive and sustainable development. In Zavkhan province the project aims at empower civil society organisations to improve economic development. The aim of the "Empowered People-empowered livelihoods" project is to contribute to improving the livelihoods of rural population in Arkhangai and Uvurkhangai provinces.
3. EU bilateral political engagement: The EU-Mongolia Human Rights Dialogue took place in Brussels in April 2018. The main concern expressed by the EU during the Human Rights Dialogue related to the Presidential considerations regarding the suitability of death penalty for child abuse crimes. Mongolia asked for EU support with arguments against death penalty, with the training of journalists (if possible study visits to Europe) and with awareness-raising, particularly through the media, in order to educate public opinion which is still vulnerable to populist arguments.
During the visit of the EU Heads of Mission (HoMs) to Mongolia in November 2018, a number of meetings were arranged with high level Mongolian authorities (including the President and the Minister of Foreign affairs) where recent human rights developments were discussed, including the EU concerns on the possible reintroduction of the death penalty. The HoMs also met with international organisations present in Mongolia, with social partners and local NGOs, which allowed exchanges of views on the human rights situation.
4. EU financial engagement: Under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), there are two relevant projects: Right to Breathe (R2B) – Adequate information systems, enhanced transparency and accountability on air pollution data and actions in Ulaan Bataar and Arkhange (approx. EUR 300,000), and 'Closing the gap': a right-based approach toward independent living for people to disabilities (approx. EUR 300,000). R2B is set up to strengthen access to information, awareness and monitoring of the situation and corresponding actions addressing air pollution in urban Mongolia. 'Closing the gap' has two intended outcomes: (i) to enhance collaboration between CSOs and Human Rights Provincial Offices to implement Human rights protection procedures for people with disabilities, and (ii) to foster the CSOs capacity to promote independent living conditions for people with disabilities at local and national level. The EU also has a Policy Support Facility to support the EU-Mongolia Human Rights Dialogue (EUR 300,000). It has two components: i) to enhance effective implementation of international human rights instruments; and (ii) to strengthen the capacity of the Prosecutors' General Office.
5. Multilateral context: Mongolia has continued to support the Global Alliance for Torture-free Trade Initiative launched at the UN General Assembly, and is currently working with the EU on ways to best implement the Initiative. It has joined recently the International Contact Group on Freedom of religion or belief, led by Canada, a platform allowing like-minded democracies to coordinate their action in favour of religion or belief at the UN.
Mongolia abstained from the joint EU-OIC resolution on the Human Rights situation in Myanmar, as well as on the Canada-led resolution on Iran, the resolution on Syria and the resolution on Crimea at UNGA 73. This shows Mongolia's lack of support for country-specific resolutions and preference for taking a neutral approach at the UN rather than confronting their big neighbours.