MONGOLIA: Tier 2
The Government of Mongolia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Mongolia remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by prosecuting more cases, adopting an action plan on victim protection, and facilitating trainings for government entities and stakeholders. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not proactively identify trafficking victims from vulnerable populations, and authorities arrested or detained potential victims for acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. The government did not fund victim shelters or services during the year.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MONGOLIA
Develop and implement formal procedures to guide government officials, including police, immigration, and labor authorities, in victim identification and referral to protective services; cease penalizing trafficking victims for offenses committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; allocate funding to support both government and NGO-run shelters and other forms of victim assistance and protection; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute all trafficking offenses using article 113 of the criminal code; continue to monitor working conditions and investigate claims of labor exploitation of foreign contractors employed in Mongolia; implement the national action plans to combat trafficking and protect victims; and engage in efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts, particularly throughout major transportation hubs.
The government increased law enforcement efforts. The government adopted the last of six implementing regulations required by the 2012 anti-trafficking law. Article 113 of the criminal code prohibits all forms of human trafficking, defines trafficking in accordance with international law, and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In 2016, under article 113, authorities investigated three potential trafficking cases, (14 in 2015), prosecuted 14 defendants (five in 2015), and convicted nine traffickers (eight in 2015). The government did not provide sentencing details or disaggregate ongoing prosecutions initiated in prior years from new cases in 2016. Authorities frequently charged suspected sex traffickers under article 124, which criminalizes inducing others into and organizing prostitution but does not require the element of force, fraud, or coercion that defines a trafficking crime and prescribes smaller penalties of up to five years imprisonment. Authorities prosecuted 37 defendants and convicted eight under article 124 in 2016; however, it was unclear how many of these cases had direct links to sex trafficking. In addition, due to the misconception among many government officials that only females can be sex trafficking victims, authorities rarely used articles 113 or 124 to prosecute cases in which males were the victims but instead used provisions with less stringent penalties. The government-funded training courses for over 500 law enforcement officers and social workers on topics including human trafficking, child protection, and labor exploitation. The government also provided in-kind support, including trainers and a venue, for trainings aimed at NGOs, prosecutors, judges, and police, as well as social, health, education, and employment officers. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government decreased efforts to protect victims. NGOs provided the vast majority of protection services for victims, including long-term resources, without support from the government. Victims’ services continued to be available principally at two shelters run by the Mongolian Gender Equality Center (GEC). For the second consecutive year, the government did not report funding GEC facilities. In 2016, the GEC assisted a total of one potential labor and 43 potential sex trafficking victims, compared with 36 sex trafficking victims the previous year; 20 referrals originated from law enforcement agencies. All identified victims were female, and one was a child. Of the 44 potential victims assisted by the GEC, 22 chose to report their cases to law enforcement. National police agency investigators reported using an 11-question trafficking risk assessment checklist to identify victims proactively among vulnerable populations; however, NGOs indicated identification and referrals were not systematic but rather depended on the initiative of individual officers. Mongolian authorities fined, arrested, and detained trafficking victims, including children, for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking during the reporting period. The government adopted implementing regulations for an action plan for 2016-2024 on the protection and assistance of victims and witnesses. Mongolian officials maintained operation of a private victim and witness room at the First District First Instance Criminal Court in Ulaanbaatar. The government assisted in the repatriation of four Mongolian trafficking victims from China in 2016. The government did not identify foreign victims during the reporting period. Mongolian law does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries in which they could face retribution or hardship.
The government maintained modest efforts to prevent trafficking. Although the Anti-Trafficking sub-council did not meet regularly in 2016, the government re-established its Crime Prevention Coordinating Council, which held the first of regular meetings in December and effectively fulfills the sub-council’s role of coordinating anti-trafficking efforts. Justice officials submitted to the cabinet a national action plan for 2017-2021; the plan remained under review at the end of the reporting period. The government continued work with an international organization to establish an integrated statistical database, which will be publicly accessible in the future. In 2016, government officials conducted a study on the working conditions of foreign laborers in Mongolia; the report was not yet finalized at the end of the reporting period. Officials continued to disseminate a daily public service announcement (PSA) on social media and television, in addition to distributing a PSA to police stations in all provinces. Authorities, with assistance from an international organization, funded and distributed passport inserts to Mongolian citizens traveling abroad that provided emergency information for trafficking situations at major transportation hubs and in areas with high population density; however, this activity ceased in June 2016 while the inserts underwent revision. The government inspected labor contracts of Mongolians recruited to work abroad to ensure their compliance with the law, including adequate wages; authorities collected fines from four companies for visa violations and to recover underpaid wages of foreign workers. The government did not take measures to reduce the demand for forced labor or commercial sex acts. In 2016, the government provided anti-trafficking training for all peacekeepers in advance of their deployment abroad and required its diplomatic personnel to be familiar with anti-trafficking laws prior to assignment abroad.
As reported over the past five years, Mongolia is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Mongolian men, women, and children are subjected to forced labor in Turkey, Kazakhstan, Israel, Norway, and Sweden and to sex trafficking in South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Turkey, and the United States. Women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Mongolian massage parlors, hotels, bars, and karaoke clubs. Mongolian girls employed as contortionists—often under contractual agreements signed by their parents—are subjected to forced labor primarily in Mongolia and Turkey and less so in Hong Kong and Singapore. 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. Traffickers sometimes use drugs, fraudulent social networking, online job opportunities, or English language programs to lure Mongolian victims into sex trafficking. A significant number of Mongolian victims from rural and poor economic areas are subjected to sex trafficking in Ulaanbaatar and border areas. Japanese and South Korean tourists engage in child sex tourism in Mongolia.
The continued development of the mining industry in southern Mongolia led to an increase in internal and international migration, increasing the risk of trafficking, particularly along the China-Mongolian border. Increasing their vulnerability to exploitation, truck drivers transporting coal across the border often have their passports confiscated as collateral for their vehicles; young women are also at risk of being exploited in prostitution by drivers who are awaiting border crossing. Some Mongolian children are forced to beg, steal, or work in the informal sectors of the economy, such as horse racing, mining, herding, and construction, and are sometimes subjected to sex trafficking—often with familial complicity. North Korean and Chinese workers employed in Mongolia are vulnerable to trafficking as contract laborers in construction, production, agriculture, forestry, fishing, hunting, wholesale and retail trade, automobile maintenance, and mining. Purportedly, North Korean laborers do not have freedom of movement or choice of employment and are allowed to keep only a small portion of their wages while being subjected to harsh working and living conditions. Chinese workers have reported non-payment of wages. Previous reports allege corruption among Mongolian officials impedes the government’s anti-trafficking efforts.