Mongolia is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Mongolian women and girls are trafficked to China, Macau, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and South Korea for both forced labor and sexual exploitation. Mongolian men and women are trafficked to Kazakhstan and Turkey for labor exploitation. There is also concern about involuntary child labor in the Mongolian construction, mining, and industrial sectors, where they are vulnerable to injury and face severe health hazards, such as exposure to mercury. Mongolian trafficking victims were documented over the last year in a greater number of destinations, including Germany, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and other countries in the Middle East. Some Mongolian women who enter into marriages with foreign nationals – mainly South Koreans – were subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after moving to their spouses’ 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. According to NGOs, South Korean and Japanese child sex tourists were visiting Mongolia in greater numbers. Methods used by traffickers to lure victims grew increasingly organized and sophisticated. For instance, traffickers are beginning to utilize “TV Chat,” a late-night broadcast through which viewers send and view text messages, as a method to recruit victims, typically through the promise of lucrative jobs. Around 150 North Koreans remain employed in Mongolia as contract laborers. In 2008, the Mongolian government signed an agreement with North Korea that could bring as many as 5,300 additional DPRK laborers to Mongolia. Once overseas North Korean workers do not appear to be free to leave their employment, their freedom of movement and communication are restricted, and workers typically only receive a fraction of the money paid to the North Korean government for their work.
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 use of laws other than trafficking-specific laws to prosecute traffickers resulted in generally lower sentences for convicted offenders. The government cooperated with NGOs on anti-trafficking measures, but did not provide sufficient assistance to victims. Despite continued reports of complicity by government officials in severe forms of trafficking, there were no investigations or prosecutions of such corruption.
Recommendations for Mongolia:
Make more effective use of Article 113, Mongolia’s trafficking law, to prosecute suspected trafficking offenders; 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; develop and implement formal victim identification and referral procedures to ensure that victims are found among at-risk populations and referred for victim services; consider measures to protect victims who assist and testify in trafficking trials; and improve protection and rehabilitation services for victims.
The Mongolian government made some progress in enforcing its anti-trafficking laws during the last year. Mongolia criminalizes all forms of human trafficking through Article 113 of its criminal code, which was amended in 2007 and which prescribes penalties that are sufficiently stringent – up to 15 years’ imprisonment – and commensurate with those penalties prescribed for other serious offenses. The government secured the convictions of 10 trafficking offenders under Article 113, compared to seven convictions in the previous reporting period. Those convicted under Article 113, including a woman who trafficked five young Mongolian women to Macau, received sentences of from 10 to 15 years’ imprisonment. Thirty-three other people were convicted under the lesser offense of forced prostitution (Article 124) and were sentenced to between one and three years’ imprisonment. Several trafficking offenders convicted under Article 124 were fined and were not sentenced to prison. Two cases prosecuted in 2008 under Article 124 involved five victims who were children. During the year, the Supreme Court issued an interpretation of the amended Article 113 that created ambiguities as to when prosecutors and judges should apply the law. Police, judges, and prosecutors continued to exhibit a lack of knowledge regarding trafficking. There continued to be reports of law enforcement officials directly involved in or facilitating trafficking crimes during the year, including assisting traffickers in identifying potential victims. Anecdotal reporting suggests that some high-level government and police officials have been clients of minors exploited in prostitution, but the government did not investigate or take any disciplinary actions against law enforcement officers implicated in trafficking-related corruption.
The Mongolian government’s efforts to protect trafficking victims were inadequate, and it continued to rely heavily on NGOs and international organizations to provide the bulk of victim services. Sixty-one trafficking victims were identified during the reporting period, compared with 115 victims identified during the previous year. Most victims were trafficked to China for sexual exploitation. It is unclear how many victims were identified by the government, as opposed to NGOs. Government personnel did not proactively identify trafficking victims, nor do they refer trafficking victims to appropriate government or NGO services. The government encouraged victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders, but Mongolian law continued to lack protection provisions for victims of any crimes, including trafficking. Victims were sometimes punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked, as they faced the risk of being prosecuted on charges related to prostitution. In February 2009, while in police custody, two trafficking victims filed charges against their trafficker. When they left police custody, their trafficker used threats to force them to recant the charges. Upon doing so, the trafficker had the victims charged with defamation and making false statements to the police. The girls were arrested and sentenced in the Sukhbaatar District Court on February 18, 2009, to two years in prison, but the sentence was suspended for one year and the girls placed under police supervision to provide time for their NGO-provided lawyer to prepare an appeal. Given its limited resources, the government did not run or fund shelters for victims of trafficking; nor did it provide direct assistance to Mongolian trafficking victims repatriated from other countries.
The Government of Mongolia did not undertake any significant new trafficking prevention activities during the reporting period. Government personnel continued the distribution of NGO-sponsored passport and train ticket inserts, which led to the repatriation of several additional Mongolian trafficking victims. The government sustained collaboration with NGOs providing anti-trafficking training to police, immigration officials, Border Force officials, and civil servants. NGOs continued to report, however, that cooperation varied considerably by government ministry. The government did not take any measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. Mongolian troops deployed abroad for international peacekeeping missions were briefed on the fact that solicitation of prostitution while serving abroad would be considered a criminal act under Mongolian law.