Mongolia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children who are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Mongolian men, women, and children are found in forced labor and forced prostitution in China, Malaysia, and Singapore. Mongolian women and girls are found in forced prostitution in Macau, Hong Kong, and South Korea. China was the primary source of repatriated Mongolian victims. Mongolian men and women are found in conditions of forced labor in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Mongolia is used as a transit point en route to other destinations in Northeast Asia for forced prostitution and forced labor originating in China and Russia. There were reports of a significant increase in the number of forced labor and forced prostitution cases involving Mongolian labor migrants in Turkey. Singapore has become a destination for Mongolian sex trafficking victims as well as a base of operations for recruiters of illegal Filipino domestic labor to Mongolia. Mongolian women continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude upon engaging in brokered marriages, often to South Korean men. Women and girls are subjected to forced prostitution in massage parlors, and girls remained vulnerable to forced prostitution in hotels, bars, karaoke clubs, and at mining sites in Mongolia. Young girls are sent to foreign countries to serve as contortionists in circuses, where they may become victims of forced labor. Some Mongolian children are forced to beg or labor in the informal construction, mining, and industrial sectors. There is continued evidence of Chinese laborers in the mining and construction industries being expelled from Mongolia for visa violations without being compensated for their work. Approximately 2,000 North Koreans are employed in Mongolia as contract laborers, more than quadruple the number reported the previous year. This increase occurred despite well-documented concerns that North Korean workers overseas are not free to leave their employment and receive only a fraction of the money paid to the North Korean government for their work.
Mongolian authorities reported that human trafficking cases were more prevalent during the reporting period and recruitment for forced prostitution has become more sophisticated to avoid detection by police. Whereas in the past trafficking perpetrators would place fraudulent ads in newspapers or on television, traffickers are increasingly using social networking sites and online advertisements. 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. In January 2012, the government passed the Law on Combating Human Trafficking, which provides provisions for coordination among agencies on human trafficking and clearly prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons under a single, comprehensive law. To date, the government has not recognized forced labor as a problem and no forced labor cases have ever been prosecuted, despite the fact that Mongolia repatriated forced labor victims in 2010 and 2011. The Criminal Police Department and the State Investigation Department stated that, even when forced labor cases were reported, they were not referred for further criminal investigation. In October 2011, the government passed the National Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. However, the government did not dedicate funding towards enacting the initiatives listed in the program, as it hopes to contract with NGOs for specific services and pool funding across agencies to achieve program goals. Funding remained a serious constraint to implementing both the trafficking prevention council and the National Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor. The entire government budget for crime victim protection services was the equivalent of $16,000 in 2011. Government corruption remained endemic, and turnover among prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officers resulted in a new cadre of officials that have little to no experience or training in combating human trafficking. The government conducted a number of training programs for police officers on human trafficking issues and investigations.
Recommendations for Mongolia
Establish formal procedures to guide government officials in victim identification and referral of victims to protective services; cease increases in the employment of North Korean laborers; train law enforcement officials, judges, and members of the government on trafficking and how to effectively implement the new 2012 law; allocate government funds or seek international funding to support activities of the Trafficking Prevention Council and the National Program for the Elimination of Child Labor; cease prosecuting trafficking victims for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked; undertake victim identification efforts among vulnerable populations, such as foreign migrants and children; and commence serious efforts to investigate and prosecute labor trafficking cases, including those involving foreign workers.
The Government of Mongolia made significant anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. In January 2012, the Mongolian government passed the Law on Combating Human Trafficking, a comprehensive anti-trafficking law that more rigorously defines trafficking to include forced prostitution and prostitution of minors and mandates coordination among agencies involved in anti-trafficking efforts. Mongolia prohibits all forms of human trafficking through Article 113 of its criminal code, which, with the passage of the 2012 Law on Combating Human Trafficking, now clearly covers forced prostitution and prostitution of minors in addition to all other forms of trafficking. Article 115 of the criminal code previously covered prostitution of minors; these provisions were incorporated into Article 113 to aid law enforcement authorities in investigating and prosecuting trafficking-related crimes through a single, comprehensive anti-trafficking law. The law prescribes penalties that are sufficiently stringent – with up to 15 years’ imprisonment – and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government investigated 15 forced prostitution cases and obtained nine convictions. The government tried and convicted one case of forced prostitution of a minor. The government conducted no forced labor investigations and obtained no forced labor convictions. However, 2011 saw the first conviction of a trafficker of young female contortionists for circus performances. Article 113 was not used to convict the perpetrator, who was sentenced to 5.5 years’ imprisonment under a torture and grievous bodily harm statute. Although the case was not prosecuted under forced labor statutes, anti-trafficking organizations in the country viewed the case as a positive development. Previously, traffickers of young contortionists had not been prosecuted in Mongolia. Corruption among law enforcement personnel remains a significant problem in the country and a barrier to anti-trafficking progress. The government did not investigate or take disciplinary actions against law enforcement officers involved in trafficking-related corruption. Despite having an extremely limited budget, the Criminal Police Department’s Organized Crime Division held several training programs on trafficking investigations for local police forces. The Ulaanbaatar City mayor’s office also provided the equivalent of approximately $1,600 to train 30 prosecutors on China-Mongolia trafficking issues in September 2011.
The Government of Mongolia made progress in its efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. The government did not employ systematic procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims, although authorities identified 52 victims of forced prostitution during the reporting period, and an additional 21 victims were repatriated from other countries. Authorities did not formally identify any victims of forced labor. In one case, the Mongolian Embassy in China repatriated a mentally disabled minor to Mongolia, as authorities believed he had been sent to China for organ harvesting. Because the Mongolian government had no funding for the repatriation of victims, its embassy in Beijing paid repatriation expenses out of its own budget. Donor-funded NGOs provided many protective services for trafficking victims, both male and female, and the Ministry for Social Welfare and Labor funded a shelter dedicated to assisting female trafficking victims. During the reporting period, the shelter assisted 37 trafficking victims. The government funded several other shelters aimed primarily at assisting domestic violence victims; an unknown number of trafficking victims utilized those shelters during the reporting period. In January 2011, a government resolution decreed that the state budget would be used to assist and compensate Mongolian victims of trafficking abroad. However, the government has not assisted any victims using this provision to date, and there were no discernible mechanisms to provide restitution to repatriated Mongolian trafficking victims during the reporting period. The government did not provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to repatriation in cases where repatriation would constitute a significant risk of hardship, torture, or death. Victims continued to be punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked, including children in prostitution being arrested, detained, and prosecuted. Foreign trafficking victims in Mongolia were also fined for violating visa terms, as their traffickers were not identified by the government in a timely manner. Intimidation of trafficking victims and witnesses remained a major problem.
The Government of Mongolia made almost no effort to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not conduct any public education campaigns to combat trafficking, although it did host a number of training programs for law enforcement officials. The government introduced a National Plan of Action on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children in 2006, which has been implemented to a limited extent. The new law mandates the creation of the trafficking prevention council to streamline government efforts to prevent human trafficking. At of the end of the reporting period, the trafficking prevention council had not convened. The law also established fines and administrative penalties for trafficking-related advertisements on television and the Internet. The government convened an interagency council to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking efforts, which met four times during 2011, and it convened an NGO working group on trafficking. The government did not take any measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or to address the problem of child sex tourism in the country.