Mongolia is a source and, to a lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Mongolian men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor, and women are subjected to sex trafficking abroad, primarily in China, Hong Kong and, to a lesser extent, Malaysia and Indonesia. Mongolian men are subjected to forced labor in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, and the Czech Republic. Mongolian women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Sweden. Women are subjected to domestic servitude or forced prostitution after entering into commercially brokered marriages to Chinese men and, with decreased frequency, South Korean men. There have been reports over the past five years that Mongolian girls employed as contortionists, under contracts signed by their parents, have been subjected to forced labor and sometimes forced begging in Mongolia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, and Turkey. The majority of repatriated Mongolian victims in 2014 were exploited in China.
Women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Mongolia in massage parlors, hotels, bars, and karaoke clubs. Traffickers sometimes use drugs or fraudulent social networking, online job opportunities, and English language programs to lure Mongolian victims into sex trafficking. NGO reports suggest an increasing number of victims from rural areas are subjected to sexual exploitation in Ulaanbaatar. Previous reports allege Japanese tourists engage in child sex tourism in Mongolia. Mongolian children are sometimes forced to beg, steal, or work in the informal construction, horse racing, animal husbandry, mining, agricultural, and industrial sectors—often with the complicity of family members. The vulnerability of some Filipina domestic workers in Mongolia to trafficking remains a concern, although immigration authorities noted the number of undocumented workers has decreased significantly. Thousands of North Korean and Chinese workers employed in Mongolia as contract laborers in construction, production, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, factories, wholesale and retail trade, automobile maintenance, and mining are vulnerable to trafficking. North Korean laborers reportedly do not have freedom of movement or choice of employment and receive sub-minimum wages while being subjected to harsh working and living conditions. Chinese workers have reported nonpayment of wages. Corruption among Mongolian officials remains a significant problem in the country, impairing anti-trafficking efforts.
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 2014, the government passed five implementing regulations for the Law on Victim and Witness Protection, referred 36 potential trafficking victims to an anti-trafficking NGO for assistance, and promulgated a labor trafficking announcement on social media and television networks. The government maintained limited victim protection efforts in 2014. The government convicted one trafficker in 2014, compared with five in 2013 and began implementation of one of the five regulations necessary to allow for full use of the 2012 anti-trafficking law. During the reporting year, the government reduced funding to an NGO-run shelter, and neither finalized nor implemented the national action plan to combat trafficking.
Recommendations for Mongolia
Enact all of the remaining regulations needed to fully implement the 2012 anti-trafficking law and train officials on effective implementation; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses using Article 113, including those involving foreign workers and internal and child sex trafficking cases; investigate allegations of public officials involved in trafficking; allocate more government funds to support anti-trafficking activities, including to NGO-run shelters, other forms of victim assistance and protection, and training of officials; establish formal procedures to guide government officials in victim identification and referral to protective services; cease penalizing trafficking victims for offenses committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; investigate and pursue claims of forced labor among North Korean and Chinese workers employed in Mongolia; complete drafting and begin implementation of the national plan of action on trafficking; reduce demand for commercial sex acts through proactive awareness campaigns in major transportation hubs; and investigate allegations of child sex tourism.
The government maintained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Mongolia prohibits all forms of human trafficking through Article 113 of its criminal code. Article 113, which defines trafficking in accordance with international law, prescribes penalties up to 15 years’ imprisonment for trafficking offenses, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Article 124—inducing others into and organizing prostitution—is a more commonly used statute to prosecute suspected sex trafficking cases, although it does not require proof that force, fraud, or coercion were used, and it prescribes less severe penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment. Due to the misconception among many government officials that only girls can be victims of sex trafficking, authorities rarely use Article 113 or Article 124 to prosecute cases in which boys are the victims. Due to ongoing reforms to law enforcement and judicial institutions, jurisdiction for anti-trafficking law enforcement remained nebulous.
In 2014, the National Police Agency investigated eight sex trafficking cases compared with seven in 2013. Two cases were dismissed, two were referred to local police for further investigation after being reclassified under Article 124, and four remained pending at the end of 2014. One investigation of forced labor pending from 2013 resulted in a conviction under Article 121 (forcing a child to labor) and Article 100 (battery/physical abuse). The Judicial General Council reported one case prosecuted and one sex trafficker convicted under Article 113, a decrease from four cases prosecuted and five sex traffickers convicted in 2013; the offender was sentenced to five and half years’ imprisonment. In 2014, the government funded anti-trafficking training courses, conducted by the NGO Gender Equality Center (GEC), for 370 law enforcement officers in nine provinces. However, frequent turnover among prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement officers continued to undermine the effectiveness of such training. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in trafficking, despite reports alleging officials were involved in some aspects of trafficking.
The government continued minimal efforts to protect victims. Services for victims continued to be provided principally at two government-funded shelters run by the GEC. The government reduced funding for the GEC shelter during the reporting period; it provided 7.90 million tugrik ($4,000) in 2013 and 5 million tugrik ($2,500) in 2014. NGOs provided the vast majority of protection services for victims, including long-term resources. In 2014, the GEC assisted a total of 49 potential sex trafficking victims, compared with 45 in 2013; 36 of the 49 were referrals from various government agencies. The remaining 13 victims were referred to the GEC by family or friends. Of 49 potential victims the GEC assisted, 14 chose not to refer their cases for prosecution, often due to fears of being punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking, including immigration and prostitution violations. The government did not develop systematic procedures for the proactive identification or referral of trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, leaving many victims unidentified and some vulnerable to being punished. In 2014, the Ministry of Justice passed five implementing regulations for the Law on Victim and Witness Protection, which would increase confidentiality and safety measures for trafficking victims. Although the government did not identify foreign victims during the reporting period, the law does not provide legal alternatives for their removal to countries in which they could face retribution or hardship. Foreign laborers in Mongolia, especially Chinese laborers who were vulnerable to human trafficking, were sometimes fined for violating their visa terms and expelled from Mongolia. While Mongolian law does not provide incentives for victims to assist in trafficking investigations and prosecutions, Mongolia established a private victim and witness room at the First District First Instance Criminal Court in Ulaanbaatar, which may increase victim assistance in prosecutions.
The government made limited efforts to prevent trafficking. The Anti-Trafficking Sub-Council, the government’s coordinating body for anti-trafficking efforts, held senior- and working-level meetings during the reporting year, but for the second consecutive year did not finalize or implement the national action plan to combat trafficking. The government continued work with The Asia Foundation to establish an integrated statistical database. Officials developed and disseminated on social media and television networks a public service announcement on labor trafficking and continued to display trafficking awareness posters in airports and railroad stations. In 2014, authorities continued to provide Mongolian citizens traveling abroad with passport inserts that provided emergency information for trafficking situations; these were distributed at major transportation hubs. The government made no tangible efforts to investigate the labor conditions of North Korean or Chinese contract laborers working in Mongolia. The government did not take any measures to reduce the demand for exploitive labor or commercial sex acts or to address allegations of child sex tourism in the country. In 2014, it provided anti-trafficking training for all deployed peacekeepers. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel posted abroad.