Human Rights under State of Emergency Monitoring and Protection Coalition
July 6, 2008 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
The history of humankind has demonstrated time and time again that the likelihood of serious human rights violations is increased during a state of emergency. In light of this, over 20 human rights NGOs formed a coalition and pulled their resources to monitor human rights violations, prevent further violence and inform the public during the 4 day state of emergency that was announced on the night of July 1, 2008 following the election protests that took place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Over 100 people including lawyers, defense attorneys, psychologists, social workers, students and other human rights activists came together on a voluntary basis and conducted monitoring and fact-finding activities on the situation of the 718 detainees arrested during the state of emergency. At the same time, coalition members have also begun to provide legal counseling, relevant information and other services to the detainees and their families.
Within the framework of this monitoring, the coalition members visited the detention sites and hospitals, and met with relevant authorities, the arrested, the injured and their family members. Information collected through interviews, supported by audio and visual documentation, demonstrates that the following violations of human rights and international conventions, to which Mongolia is a signatory, were committed in the process of the organization and implementation of the President’s Decree on Announcing the State of Emergency:
- Complete and timely measures were not taken to inform citizens who were unable to receive information through radio and television about the announcement of the state of emergency
- The police and army corps were not provided with guidelines on how to perform the arrests in compliance with relevant laws and regulations
- In violation of the law, the police and army corps performed a mass arrest, using excessive force, severely beating and injuring people
- The detainees were kept in conditions that do not satisfy minimum standards. In particular:
- 30-50 people were kept in a small room of about 20 square meters, without sufficient air, people were also kept en masse in a detention center garage
- Children and women were kept with adult men
- The detention rooms did not satisfy minimum health and hygiene standards
- The detainees were not allowed access to toilet facilities, which resulted in damage to their health
- The detainees were not provided with necessary nutrition. For example, in some detention sites, people were not given food or water for a whole day while in other sites they were given a small piece of cookie with tap water on the first day and chloramine-tainted tea on the second day.
- People who required medical attention were not provided with necessary assistance.
- During the mass arrests, the Law on Criminal Procedure was seriously violated. In particular:
- The detainees were not informed of their rights or the reason for their arrest
- The families were not immediately notified about the arrests
- During the arrests and the interrogations, the police did not inform citizens of their basic rights such as the right to have a lawyer present and the right not to testify against oneself
- People with disabilities and children were interrogated without the presence of a parent, legal guardian, representative or lawyer
- The detainees were forced to give and sign statements under torture and duress
- Television footage is being used as stand-alone evidence and repeatedly broadcast on the Mongolian National Public Television and Radio.
As a result of the above violations, the detainees and their family members and friends have suffered severe psychological damage over and above significant material losses. Even after 5 days have passed since the initial arrests, there are over 70 people who have not been located and their family and friends are still looking for them.
Given these serious and numerous violations of international human rights laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court, and the International Convention against Torture and Inhuman Treatment, the Constitution of Mongolia and the Law of Mongolia on Criminal Procedure, lead us to conclude that the on-going interrogation process is illegal.
Basic human rights principles, which dictate that no one may be subjected to torture, inhuman treatment, humiliation and cruel punishment, must be strictly followed at all times. Violation of these principles can not be justified under any circumstances. Therefore, we demand that egregious violations of human rights and freedoms be stopped immediately.
The temporary closure of all broadcast media with the exception of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television resulted in a dire lack of objective and timely information. In the context of an already distressed and anxious public, this unbalanced and one-sided information further increased people’s fears and severely undermined their trust in state protection. These events have clearly demonstrated the fragility of Mongolia’s democratic institutions and the weaknesses of Mongolia’s national human rights protection mechanisms.
For these reasons we call on the government, political parties, citizens and civil society organizations to make a concerted effort to resolve the current situation peacefully, based on human rights, to restore and protect the rights of our citizens who have been affected by the mass arrests, and to strengthen human rights guarantees in Mongolia. It is of vital importance that we work together to protect and ensure fundamental human rights in Mongolia.
Center for Human Rights and Development
Law and Human Rights Center
National Center against Violence
Open Society Forum
Philanthropy for Development Center
Mongolian Women’s Fund
Step by Step NGO
“Let’s Develop” Club
Amnesty International Mongolia
Mongolian Women’s Federation
Mongolian Men’s Association
“Mongolian Family” Psychotherapy Association
National Federation of Disabled Citizens’ UnionsAssociation for Family Wellbeing
Center for Citizens’ Alliance
Asian Focal Point for the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy