Mongolia is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Although it remains difficult to quantify, trafficking continues to be a problem in Mongolia. One NGO reported that its hotline received many more reports of trafficking this year than in the previous year. Mongolian women and girls are trafficked to China, Macau, Malaysia, and South Korea for both forced labor and sexual exploitation. Mongolian men are trafficked to Kazakhstan for labor exploitation. There is also concern about child labor in the construction, mining, and industrial sectors, where they are vulnerable to injury and face severe health hazards, such as exposure to mercury. Some Mongolian women who enter into marriages with foreign husbands—mainly South Koreans—were subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after moving to their husbands’ homeland. Mongolia continues to face the problem of children trafficked internally for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, reportedly organized by criminal networks. There have been several reports of Mongolian girls and women being kidnapped and forced to work in the country’s commercial sex trade. Some travel agents and tour guides who took part in an anti-trafficking workshop expressed concern that child sex tourism might be increasing; they noted that South Korean sex tourists were arriving in greater numbers and frequenting nightspots where girls and women were in prostitution. Around 150 North Koreans are currently employed in Mongolia as contract laborers. On February 5, 2008, the Mongolian government signed an agreement with North Korea that could bring as many as 5,300 North Korean laborers to Mongolia over the next five years. Although there is no evidence of force, fraud, or coercion on the part of the North Korean government in the recruitment of North Koreans for these positions, once overseas North Korean workers do not appear to be free to leave their employment, and it is unclear whether the workers in Mongolia receive their full wages.
The Government of Mongolia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government made clear progress in its efforts to address trafficking over the past year, particularly in the areas of legislative reforms and the prosecution of trafficking offenders. Insufficient assistance to victims was provided by the government, and there were some indications of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials. However, the government took major legislative steps to fight trafficking, including expanding the scope of the anti-trafficking law to outlaw the recruitment, harboring, and transportation of victims. The government convicted 18 trafficking offenders, up from zero in the previous 12-month period, and initiated prosecutions of many others. The government embraced anti-trafficking training provided by NGOs for police, immigration officials, Border Force officials, and other civil servants. The government started distributing one million NGO-sponsored trafficking awareness passport and train ticket inserts, which led to the rescue of four Mongolian trafficking victims in Malaysia. The government also raised the salaries of judges to make them less susceptible to bribery. While the government lacked the resources to combat trafficking effectively on its own, it cooperated with NGOs and regional and international organizations on anti-trafficking measures. However, NGOs report that cooperation varied considerably by government ministry.
Recommendations for Mongolia:
Make more effective use of existing laws against trafficking to prosecute and convict more traffickers; investigate and prosecute government officials complicit in trafficking; expand the number of police investigators and prosecutors dedicated to addressing trafficking cases; raise awareness among law enforcement officials and prosecutors throughout the country about trafficking crimes; and improve protection and rehabilitation services for victims.
The Mongolian government made progress with its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the last year. Seven individuals were convicted under Article 113 of the Criminal Code, on trafficking in persons. At least two were Mongolian women who had trafficked other Mongolian women to a neighboring country. Eleven other people were convicted under Article 124 of forced prostitution, and were also sentenced to prison. At the end of this reporting period, criminal proceedings were being pursued against at least 16 individuals suspected of trafficking offenses. A key problem in the prosecution process appears to be a lack of knowledge among police and prosecutors regarding trafficking. Prosecutors frequently reject trafficking related cases forwarded by the police, in some cases because evidence was unavailable. A report of a foreign citizen who allegedly forced an underage Mongolian girl to pose for pornographic photos was referred to police during the year, but police follow-up was lacking. NGOs reported incidences of disengaged or heavy-handed police officers, who, by their attitudes and actions, sometimes discouraged victims from pursuing criminal cases. There were several reports of law enforcement officials directly involved in or facilitating trafficking crimes during the year. Anecdotal reporting suggests that some high-level government and police officials have been clients of minors exploited in prostitution. However, the government rarely made available information related to convictions of and disciplinary actions against law enforcement officers implicated in trafficking-related corruption.
The Mongolian government in 2007 provided limited protection and direct assistance to trafficking victims. Mongolian law continued to lack witness or victim protection provisions for any crimes, including trafficking. Given its limited resources, the government does not run or fund shelters for victims of trafficking. It also did not provide direct assistance to Mongolian trafficking victims repatriated from other countries. The government collaborated with IOM, however, in referring victims of trafficking to this international victim services provider. In 2006, the government announced plans to open a consulate in Macau in order to provide services to Mongolian nationals, including those who have been victims of trafficking, but movement on this initiative appears to have stalled.
Mongolia carried out some trafficking prevention efforts this year, in addition to the distribution of NGO-sponsored passport and train ticket inserts. The Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs cooperated with GEC, a leading anti-trafficking NGO, to maintain a hotline, which in 2007 received more than 1,000 calls. Although Mongolia adopted a National Action Plan in 2005 to prevent women and girls from being forced into prostitution, this has not been fully implemented, and NGOs consider the plan to be largely ineffective. The government did not take any measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Mongolia has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.