Mongolia is a source country, and to a much lesser extent, a destination for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Mongolian men, women, and children are found in these conditions in China, Macau, Malaysia, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Mongolian men and women are found in conditions of forced labor in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic, and Poland. One Mongolian victim was repatriated from Ireland during the reporting period. According to a leading anti-trafficking NGO in Mongolia, China was the primary source of repatriated Mongolian victims. Visa-free travel of Mongolians to Turkey has resulted in a significant increase in the number of both labor and sex trafficking cases involving Mongolian labor migrants in Turkey. There remain concerns about involuntary child labor in the informal construction, mining, and industrial sectors, where children are vulnerable to injury and face severe health hazards. The problem of Mongolian women subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after engaging in brokered marriages – mainly to South Korean men – continues. There is mounting evidence of Chinese laborers, usually in mining and construction work, being expelled from Mongolia for visa violations without being compensated for their work, an indicator of possible human trafficking. Approximately 525 North Koreans are employed in Mongolia as contract laborers, more than double the number reported last year, despite concerns that North Korean workers overseas do not appear to be free to leave their employment, have their freedom of movement and communication restricted, and receive only an unknown fraction of the money paid to the North Korean government for their work.
Many Mongolian victims originally sought employment through fraudulent newspaper or television advertisements, and traffickers continue to use technology like “TV Chat” to lure victims. Many victims are recruited by acquaintances, friends, and family, and victims often have their travel documents confiscated. Anecdotal reports continue to indicate that South Korean and Japanese tourists engage in child sex tourism in Mongolia.
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 acknowledged a serious problem of the trafficking of Mongolian women and girls abroad and took tangible steps to address this, though it did not acknowledge or adequately address the problem of Mongolian women and children trafficked within the country, Mongolian men subjected to forced labor abroad, or North Korean, Chinese, and other foreign workers subjected to conditions of forced labor in Mongolia. The government’s lack of adequate guidance on the use of the amended anti-trafficking statute continues to cause courts to charge trafficking offenders under a lesser offense, resulting in shorter sentences for convicted offenders. Corruption among law enforcement personnel remains a key barrier to anti-trafficking progress.
Recommendations for Mongolia: Undertake legislative or policy reforms necessary to more effectively prosecute labor trafficking offenses – both those that occur within Mongolia and those that occur involving Mongolians abroad; improve coordination among government agencies involved in addressing human trafficking and expand coverage of the national action plan and associated coordination council to cover all forms of human trafficking; expand the new police anti-trafficking unit’s scope of responsibilities to cover all human trafficking investigations; improve protections for victims, including those who testify against their traffickers, possibly through legislative action; greatly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute government officials complicit in trafficking; create and implement formal victim identification procedures and train police and border officials to identify trafficking victims and refer them to appropriate victim services; increase cooperation with NGOs providing victim assistance; cease the employment of North Korean contract laborers whose treatment by North Korean authorities prior to migration may constitute trafficking; implement and support a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of the sex trade; and make efforts to track law enforcement statistics on trafficking cases and trafficking victims identified and assisted by authorities.
The Mongolian government made significant, but uneven, efforts to enforce anti-trafficking laws during the reporting period. Mongolia prohibits all forms of human trafficking through Article 113 of its Criminal Code, which was amended in 2007 and prescribes penalties that are sufficiently stringent – up to 15 years’ imprisonment – and commensurate with those penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. In spite of significant legal and technical assistance from foreign donors, Mongolia’s Supreme Court has interpreted the amended Article 113 in a way that has created ambiguities as to when prosecutors and judges should apply the law. In particular, the law is seldom used to prosecute cases of transnational labor trafficking and is never used for internal sex trafficking. Also of concern is the Supreme Court’s interpretation that Article 113 can be used only in cases in which persons did not consent to migration for commercial sex work. The Supreme Court’s interpretation continues to confuse judicial officials, causing trafficking offenders to be prosecuted under the lesser offense of “forced prostitution” (Article 124), which does not actually require the use of force or coercion. In July 2010, the government established an anti-trafficking police unit, consisting of four officers, within the Special Investigation Department of the Police. This unit’s coverage is limited to cases filed under Subsection 3 of Article 113 – those involving transnational sex trafficking – and it operated without adequate funding after its creation.
During the reporting period, the government investigated 13 cases filed under Article 113, three of which involved the forced labor of Mongolian nationals in the Czech Republic and Turkey. It prosecuted nine of these cases, resulting in the conviction of five trafficking offenders and the acquittal of four, all of whom were sex trafficking offenders, compared with nine convictions obtained during the previous reporting period. Police investigated 16 cases under Article 124 (forced prostitution) and the government prosecuted 11 of these, obtaining convictions of six offenders and the dismissal of charges against five suspected offenders. One case of alleged forced labor in Mongolia was investigated and referred to the prosecutor’s office, only to be dismissed. The special anti-trafficking unit of the State Investigation Department investigated and prosecuted eight sex trafficking cases under Article 113.3, resulting in two dismissals and convictions of six trafficking offenders, who were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years’ imprisonment. The Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation of Article 113 remains an impediment to the prosecution of labor trafficking cases that occur within Mongolia. Those convicted under Article 113 received sentences of six to 15 years’ imprisonment; in contrast, the punishments given to five sex trafficking offenders who were convicted under Article 124 (forced prostitution) were considerably less severe: two were sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and the remaining three have not yet been sentenced.
According to Mongolian law, criminal cases are only initiated upon a victim’s complaint, and victims are required to assist in the prosecution of their traffickers. This requirement, along with the lack of mechanisms for protection of victims in Mongolia, including those who testify in court, causes many victims to refuse to report to police instances of trafficking out of fear of retribution from their traffickers, and restricts their ability to obtain restitution from courts. In partnership with local and international NGOs, the government provided antitrafficking law enforcement and prevention training for judicial and law enforcement officials across the country. Using its own resources, the Mongolian government trained six police officers of Ulaanbaatar City on responding to reports of human trafficking, and also trained 50 staff of the General Agency for State Registration and Border Protection on prevention of trafficking. In October 2010, the government signed an agreement with Macau to share information and enhance law enforcement cooperation on human trafficking matters. Corruption among law enforcement personnel remains a significant problem in Mongolia and a barrier to antitrafficking progress. The government did not investigate or take disciplinary actions against law enforcement officers involved in this trafficking-related corruption.
During the reporting period, the government sustained modest efforts to protect victims of trafficking. Although government personnel did not employ formal and proactive victim identification procedures, they referred on an ad hoc basis 13 victims to an NGO shelter. The government provided $14,400 in funding to this and several other NGOs during the year. The NGO reported assisting these victims, and identifying and assisting an additional 64 victims, most of whom were referred by friends and family members. During the year, the government reported cooperating with authorities in Turkey and China in the repatriation of Mongolian trafficking victims – five from Turkey and eight from China. The government did not provide specialized training to officials on victim identification. Victims were sometimes punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked, including children being arrested, detained, and prosecuted on prostitution charges. Officials sometimes did not refer trafficking victims to appropriate services. Foreign migrants who were not formally identified as trafficking victims were required to pay the fine for violation of their visa terms. Any foreigners formally identified as trafficking victims are not permitted to leave the country until conclusion of court proceedings, though no such cases were reported during the year. During the year, the Mongolian consulate in Erlian, China – a key border crossing with Mongolia – opened a three bed shelter with its own budget; the shelter reportedly provided assistance to a number of Mongolian trafficking victims. The government did not run any other shelters for victims of trafficking, nor did it provide direct assistance to Mongolian trafficking victims repatriated from other countries or foreign victims of trafficking identified in Mongolia. Although the government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders, Mongolian law continued to lack protection provisions for victims who served as prosecution witnesses, which put victims in danger. The Mongolian government provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face retribution or hardship.
The Government of Mongolia continued modest trafficking prevention activities through partnerships with NGOs, international organizations, and foreign donors. Officials continued the distribution of NGO-sponsored passport and train ticket inserts on the dangers of trafficking and resources available for victims and expanded distribution of the pamphlet to all Mongolians traveling abroad. The government’s National Plan of Action on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children, first introduced in 2006, was updated to extend through 2012. The coordinating council mandated by the action plan met only annually and was generally ineffective; observers noted minimal coordination on anti-trafficking issues among agencies on a working level. In a new development, however, the government’s National Security Council discussed human trafficking during a March 2011 meeting. The government sustained its production of public service announcements to raise public awareness about trafficking, in partnership and with funding from NGOs, and broadcast them on television channels. During the reporting period, the Mongolian government sustained partnerships with Kazakhstan and the OSCE to host an international workshop on trafficking. It did not however, make significant progress in registering the stateless ethnic Kazakh population in the western provinces of Mongolia. Also, the government did not take any measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or address the problem of child sex tourism in the country. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Mongolian troops before their deployment on international peacekeeping missions.