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, the Philippines, Macau, and Singapore. Mongolian men are found in conditions of forced labor in Turkey, Kazakhstan, and the Czech Republic; Mongolian women and girls are subjected to forced prostitution in Macau, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Mongolian women, some of whom are handicapped, are subjected to involuntary servitude or forced prostitution after entering into commercially brokered marriages, often to South Korean or Chinese men. China was the primary source of repatriated Mongolian victims. Mongolia is used as a transit point en routeto other destinations in northeast Asia for forced prostitution and forced labor originating in China and Russia. Women and girls are subjected to forced prostitution in massage parlors, and girls remained vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation in hotels, bars, and karaoke clubs in Mongolia. Some Mongolian children are forced to beg, steal, or work 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. A growing area of concern as the country becomes wealthier is the recruitment of undocumented domestic workers from the Philippines into Mongolia. Approximately 2,500 to 5,000 North Koreans are employed in Mongolia as contract laborers. North Korean workers, present in Mongolia through a memorandum of understanding, do not appear to have freedom of movement or choice of employment, and receive only a fraction of the money paid to the North Korean government for their work. Mongolian authorities have reported that 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 to avoid the risk of detection. 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. Despite these measures, including the successful prosecutions of six traffickers assisted by an NGO, the government did not implement its January 2012 anti-trafficking law, including the establishment of a coordinating anti-trafficking body, or prioritize resources to address human trafficking. Moreover, the government failed to conduct anti-trafficking training for law enforcement, prosecutors, or judges. To date, the government has not recognized forced labor as a problem and no forced labor cases have been prosecuted in the last three years. Although government revenues increased substantially in recent years, the government has not allocated funding to combat trafficking.
Recommendations for Mongolia
Implement the 2012 anti-trafficking legislation and establish a government anti-trafficking coordinating body; commence serious efforts to investigate and prosecute labor trafficking cases, including those involving foreign workers; allocate government funds or seek international funding to support anti-trafficking activities; establish formal procedures to guide government officials in victim identification and referral of victims to protective services; train law enforcement officials, judges, and members of the government on trafficking and how to effectively implement the new 2012 law, including prosecuting internal trafficking and child prostitution cases using Article 113; implement the national plans of action on trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation; cease prosecuting trafficking victims for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked; decrease the employment of North Korean laborers; reduce demand for commercial sex; and protect children who are being exploited by those who engage in child sex tourism in Mongolia.
The Government of Mongolia demonstrated diminished anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. Due to delay surrounding the formation of a new government, implementing regulations to guide law enforcement and judicial authorities on the anti-trafficking law enacted in early 2012 have not yet been issued. Mongolia prohibits all forms of human trafficking through Article 113 of its criminal code, which was amended in the prior reporting period to include internal trafficking, trafficking of children, and labor trafficking. The more commonly used statute, Article 124, which was also amended in 2013, prohibits both non-trafficking offenses such as financially benefitting from prostitution as well as “induced” prostitution. The current law prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties—with up to 15 years’ imprisonment—and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government prosecuted and convicted six trafficking offenders under Article 113, compared to no reported convictions under this trafficking statute in 2011. The six traffickers received sentences averaging six years’ imprisonment. Additionally, 20 suspects were prosecuted under Article 124 (organized or induced prostitution), of which 17 were convicted during 2012, compared to 15 suspects prosecuted, of which 10 were convicted in 2011. The 17 traffickers convicted in 2012 under Section 124 received lighter sentences than would have been possible under the amended Article 113; it is not clear how many, if any, of these involved human trafficking offenses. Once again, the government obtained no forced labor convictions; when allegations of forced labor were reported, police report that the allegations were not referred for further criminal investigation or prosecution. Corruption among prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement personnel remains a significant problem in the country and a barrier to anti-trafficking progress. The Mongolian government did not report any investigations or prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period. The Criminal Police Department’s Organized Crime Division held regular training programs on trafficking investigations for provincial and district law enforcement officers and the Tuv provincial government provided the equivalent of approximately $600 to train its law enforcement officers. However, frequent turnover among prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officers undercut these training efforts and prevented anti-trafficking expertise from being established.
The Government of Mongolia made limited efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. The government did not employ systematic procedures for the proactive identification of trafficking victims, though authorities reported identifying 56 victims of forced prostitution and no forced labor victims during the reporting period. Two NGOs, funded largely by foreign donors and given the equivalent of approximately $5,000 to $8,000 by the Mongolian government, provided the country’s only protective services for trafficking victims, both male and female. During the reporting period, these NGOs provided protective services to 51 trafficking victims, providing shelter to 26. The government still lacked a law or policy on victim-witness protection and did not provide long-term resources to victims of trafficking. Victims were not offered protections when testifying; some victims experienced intimidation during court appearances. The government did not provide a mechanism for victims to have legal counsel to assist and protect them during proceedings and did not provide foreign victims with legal alternatives to repatriation where it 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 Mongolian children in prostitution being arrested, detained, and prosecuted. Foreign trafficking victims in Mongolia, especially Chinese laborers, were routinely fined for violating visa terms and expelled from Mongolia. Police and border officials reported that girls without identification or children crossing borders with adults are interviewed; however, absent a standard operating procedure, interviews were conducted at the discretion of the individual officer.
The Government of Mongolia made no discernible effort to prevent trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not conduct any public education campaigns to combat trafficking. Local provincial and district governments independently conducted their own community-oriented public awareness campaigns for children, schools, and employers. The January 2012 law mandates a trafficking prevention council to coordinate government efforts to prevent human trafficking, but the council has not been convened. The government failed to implement two national action plans for anti-trafficking efforts and no coordinating body or resource has been dedicated to implement these plans. The government did not take any measures during the reporting period to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or to address child sex tourism in the country.