Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mongolia Brief April 29, 2014 Part II

Mongolia and China meet to arrange bilateral contracts
Ulaanbaatar, April 29 (MONTSAME) The 2nd meeting has been between Mongolia and China has been held in Beijing to arrange intergovernmental contracts which were established since the diplomatic relations in 1949.

The meeting has been co-chaired by A.Tomor, director of the Law and Treaty Department of the Mongolia’s Foreign Ministry; and Guo Xiaomei, an advisor to the same department of the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
At the meeting, the parties have discussed terms of the 426 contracts and treaties which were established between 1949 and late 2012, and then concurred to make an intergovernmental document on sorting all of the contracts and documents in frames of the 65th anniversary of the Mongolia-China diplomatic relations.
Following the meeting, the Mongolian delegation has hold a meeting with the director of the Law and Treaty Department of the China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then legged the Law Institute at the University of Beijing.

Khan Bank launches bancassurance campaign
Ulaanbaatar, April 29 (MONTSAME) Having introduced bancassurance service for the first time in Mongolia, commercial Khan Bank has, for some time, been delivering six main insurance products through its extensive banking network across the country, enabling its customers to insure themselves against potential risks, its website published Tuesday.
In line with this service, the bank has launched a two month bancassurance campaign through its 524 branches to promote the benefits of insurance and reward customers for signing up to the bancassurance service.
Through collaboration with a range of Mongolian insurance companies, Khan Bank offers six different varieties of insurance-including property insurance, installed or uninstalled equipment insurance, vehicle insurance and truck insurance-within the campaign which will run until June 30.
In order to receive the insurance service, the customer only needs to provide their personal identification and a certificate of property ownership. If applying for additional driver car insurance, the driving license of the extra driver is also required, the bank says.

Stock exchange news for April 29
Ulaanbaatar, April 29 (MONTSAME) At the Stock Exchange trades held Tuesday, a total of 23 thousand and 329 shares of 18 JSCs were traded costing MNT 17 million 037 thousand and 299.50.
"Remikon" /7,339 units/, "Khokh gan” /4,055 units/, "Merex” /3,500 units/, "Genco tour bureau” /3,112 units/ and "Hermes center” /3,100 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"Gutal" (MNT seven million and 202 thousand), "Bayangol hotel" (MNT two million and 808 thousand), "Tavantolgoi" (MNT one million 774 thousand and 500), "Remikon” (MNT one million 101 thousand and 570) and "Gobi" (MNT 892 thousand and 720).
The total market capitalization was set at MNT one trillion 619 billion 813 million 531 thousand and 759. The Index of Top-20 JSCs was 15,795.83, increasing by MNT 110.22 or 0.70% against the previous day.

Banzuke for sumo summer tournament released
Ulaanbaatar, April 29 (MONTSAME) The Japan Sumo Association (JSA) has released an official banzuke (draft) of professional sumo wrestlers for competing in the summer tournaments in all divisions.
According to the draft, three Yokozuna-titled wrestlers of Mongolia Hakuho M.Davaajargal, Harumafuji D.Byambadorj and Kakuryu M.Anand will lead the right and left flanks at the tournament which will start on May 12.
Besides the Yokozunas, seven Mongolian wrestlers will compete in the juryo division (the highest division). Experts have said it is important for Kakuryu Anand who gained the top title of sumo in March.

14 projects for economic acceleration
April 29 (Mongolian Economy) MPP Parliamentary group discussed a Parliament resolution draft on “Measures to economic acceleration” at yesterday’s meeting. In relation to the draft resolution, MPP Parliamentary group proposed to decision makers 14 actions to implement in three major directions such as “Budget and monetary policy saving public money”, “Tax policy supporting wealth makers” and “Social protection policy valuing Mongolian citizens”. It was also recommended that the resolution should be named as a resolution to overcome the economic crisis. 
Mr. S.Byambatsogt, Chairman of the MPP group says, senseless activitiesMr. S.Byambatsogt, Chairman of the MPP group says, senseless activities of the government lead to a depreciation of 30 tugrug in every 100 tugrug for citizens and entities. According to him, this draft resolution should reflect policies to increase salaries and pensions of and keep job positions for the citizens most affected by the crisis, and to support the private sector.
Last year 100 thousand citizens have received allowances from the unemployment insurance fund. MPP concludes that the pressure of the state and senseless activities of the government have causes entities to close their business. An enabling tax environment for the private sector is needed, they added. 
 A member of parliament L.Enkh-Amgalan said “Government submitted the draft resolution on economic acceleration late. The draft resolution lacks specific suggestions to improve and accelerate the economy, and overcome the crisis within 100 days. Priority issues affecting citizens, activities expected by Parliament and Government are not well covered in the draft. Therefore MPP group is proposing these 14 actions.
For example, Mongolia’s all entities are bearing the risks of currency exchange rate. The Parliament needs to solve this urgently. Secondly, the price stabilization program worth three trillion tugrug, did not produce results during the past two years. Further, this program should discontinue. Thirdly, the National Statistics Office announced decrease in income of most households at the Economic Standing Committee meeting last week. It was indicated that the average household income has increased by 15 percent in recent years. However, in 2013, household income rose only by four percents. This is how statistics show the evidence of issues affecting households.

Public and private organizations to partner in “New Trade Street” project
April 30 (UB Post) The Ulaanbaatar City Governor and Bayangol District Governor are partnering up to implement a project on upgrading trade streets in third and fourth micro-districts, where many department stores and clothing shops are located, along the Ard Ayush and Enebish Avenues.
Traffic congestion has become a permanent along the avenues as drivers park their cars on the first lanes.
The “New Trade Street” project is expected to bring solutions for both traffic and organizational problems of the street, and improve convenience for traders and customers.
Many projects will be done to upgrade the street until 2016.
The Bayangol District Governor has formed a Project Regulatory Commission which comprises of members of both public and private organizations and businesses to accelerate the project’s progress.
Greeneries on median strips will be recovered, each shop owners will start decorating the area within 50 meter radius of their shop, trees and bushes will be planted along the street, lighting system will be improved, building and shop names will be hung up in accordance with new standards, while billboards and information boards will also become more organized, according to the project managers.
Surveillance cameras will be installed inside and outside of buildings in the street to ensure safety, while car parks will be built to reduce traffic congestion, the governors added. Traders selling goods outdoors along the street will be employed elsewhere in shops and belongings of those who are still selling goods outside will be relocated.

Where is the bond money?
April 30 (UB Post) The number of people is growing who are seeking  truthful answers to the question of whether the Chinggis bond money and money of the lately released Samurai bond has left, or not. This search might be causing serious trouble for N.Alyankhuyag’s cabinet. The present Government could give the impression to the public that it created a pleasant economic environment, by releasing the bond in a foreign market, however only after a year the government received criticism that it deteriorated the country’s economy. Economists have been warning since last autumn that Mongolia is facing an economic crisis. Although the Government of Mongolia, who had ignored the warning, recently agreed that the situation in Mongolia critical. Accordingly, with the launch of the Spring Session, the Speaker of the Parliament has developed a draft regulation for measures to be taken to intensify the economy, and it is being discussed in the Government and Parliament.
At the same time, ministers and some authorities are making complaints that the government is not spending and devoting the bond money on the planned projects and activities.
Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag once said at the Parliamentary meeting of December 7, 2012  “The bond money spending should be transparent to the public. Its spending will be open not only to parliamentarians, but to the public as well” according to official protocol.
However, the authorities did not keep this promise; they didn’t reveal to the public the facts on how the bond money was spent and what amount of money is left, and this information was not even released to parliamentarians. Mongolia is paying 273 million MNT a day since December 2012 for the interest of the Chinggis Bond. By the beginning of 2014, Mongolia has paid back 108 billion MNT, money equivalent to building 325 kindergartens and 108 schools on only the interest.
The following are speeches by officials regarding the bond spending.
Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag
A bond of a total of 1.5 billion USD was issued and 700 million USD of it has been spent so far. The decision has been made to spend around 500 million on certain items of that remaining 800 million USD. We are planning to spend the remaining 300 million USD in promoting and supporting the production and industry sector, however the final decision has not been made.
From speech of the Prime Minister during weekly meeting “30 minutes with the Premier”… 2013-09-26
Minister for Economic Development N.Batbayar
Half of the bond money has not been spent. It was transferred to the Development banks in a foreign currency, but now it is in Mongolian tugriks.
Statement made during Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy… 2014-04-23
Minister for Road and Transportation A.Gansukh
The construction of a 267 kilometers railway on the route for Tavantolgoi-Gashuunsukhait is at 70 percent. The Government decided in March 2013 to finance it with 400 million USD from the Chinggis bond.
As of today, the work of 173 million USD has been completed. The financing of the next 200 million USD is being waited for. But the Economic Development Ministry and Development Bank said they ran out of money.
 “Unuudur” Daily Newspaper… 2014-04-04
Chairman of Standing Committee on Economy B.Garamgaibaatar
All money of the bond has been shared out to various projects. The relevant ministries still haven’t delivered proper projects on what the bond money will be spent on. The bond or the loan is not just simply handed over or distributed. One should meet certain demands and requirements to get the loan. Ministries promised to reach the demands; however they still haven’t delivered a project that meets the demands.
I don’t know what how much money is left from the bond money. What I know is, capital remained from the bond has been transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture and Industry to support light industry.
 “Political overview” newspaper… 2013-08-27
Deputy Minister of Economic Development O.Chuluunbat
Interest on the Chinggis bond has been lowered. Ten years of it is at around 80 percent and five years at 90 percent. We won’t buy the Mongolian bond as a warning has been made that has poor trust. Governments of all countries issued their bonds in the world market.
The Government evaluations of a bond becomes the main indicator on how trustworthy a partner is in terms of business, economy and politics. Any investor sees our bond evaluations besides checking ratings in Moody’s and Standart&Poors before entering Mongolia.
Daily Newspaper 2014-01-31
CEO, Development Bank of Mongolia N.Munkhbat
The unspent remainder of the Chinggis bond is 1.4 trillion MNT. The decision was made to issue financing of 200 million USD from the Chinggis bond and 55 million USD from its own source of the Development bank for the new railway project, and financing is being made as planned.
We haven’t stop or frozen the financing and so far we have issued 164.2 million USD for railway projects from the designated 200 million USD of the Chinggis bond. The performance of the total projects is at 24 percent and dam construction work is at 70 percent.
Informal meeting 2014-04-21
Capital City Governor E.Bat-Uul
The Chinggis bond is not the money of N.Batbayar, it is public property. He has no rights to freeze the financing of certain projects. Implementing Street projects in provinces has no benefits. The project initially was developed to be carried out only in Ulaanbaatar.
Informal meeting 2014-04-09
From an official letter to Parliamentarians sent by Capital City authorities… 
…It is time to do construction, which will change the lives, convenience and future of city dwellers and write a new city history. Investment projects should be prioritized in terms of significance and the investments to inevitable constructions such as the 22 kilometers road of Biocombinat, highway to airport, Yarmag bridge etc. should not be stopped. In recent days some ministers started mentioning about stopping financing of apartment construction and some works under the Street project…

B.Bataa: Assaults and psychological damage caused by hate crimes should face more severe punishment
April 30 (UB Post) The following is an interview with B.Bataa, Head of the Complaints and Inquiry Division of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), about moves to criminalize hate crimes in Mongolia
We’re interested in knowing about the hate crime legislation in Mongolia, and how important it is to Mongolian society and protecting human rights.
International organizations have asked us to include hate-motivated acts as actual crimes under Mongolia’s Criminal Code. Mongolia is currently formulating a draft to revise the code. However, hate-motivated acts are not being included in it as a crime category. The NHRC has been demanding to include them as such. The draft includes revision of the Anti-Discrimination Law, but in our view, the law provisions are too broad – too many acts might run the risk of being seen as crime.
I understand that there has been some cases where violence occurred due to hate crimes in Mongolia. I’m curious about which particular cases started this process and raised the need for a legislation against hate crimes.
There have been several cases connected to discrimination that are based on hate, specifically towards gay people. Their right to live and live freely were violated as they were targeted due to their sexual orientation. For instance, in some cases, perpetrators who committed murder were convicted under current legal penalties.
However, those acts where perpetrators pressure, threaten and interfere with daily lives of people out of hatred for their sexual orientation, gender and any other factors are not, under current provisions, legally punishable under the Criminal Code. That is why we proposed to include provisions to criminalize hate crime, largely at the request of international human rights organizations.
How many hate crime related complaints has the NHRC received?
Not many. Several LGBT people contacted our commission and complained that they are having a hard time living and working as others do, simply because others discriminate against them, or defamed them due to their sexual orientation.
In other cases, some HIV positive people complained that they have faced numerous work-related problems.  For instance, they commonly have no other choice but to give up their jobs as it is hard to continue their employment whilst being discriminated against.
When was the draft written and at what stage is the law at currently?
Anti-discrimination provisions are included to some extent in the laws of every sector. For instance, under labor and family laws. The NHRC continues to advocate for the inclusion of hate-motivated acts as actual crimes under law because at present, only those cases that caused physical damage to the victim are seen as crimes. In such cases, perpetrators are convicted only because physical assault is prohibited under law, and seen as an act against basic human rights.
In cases of hate-motivated physical assaults, psychological damage is also common. These affects should be noted as crimes in the new Criminal Code. The severity of punishment for hate-motivated crimes should be stipulated under specific and relevant legislation.
In our view, physical assaults, psychological impacts and murders that are specifically hate-motivated have to face more severe punishments. Their motivation is special and not like that of any other similar crimes. This is the view of the NHRC.
The draft has already been prepared and we have now submitted it to the government. We hope that the government will pass it on to the spring session of Parliament.
What are the recommendations of the NHRC in terms of the types of punishment? For instance, detention length that should be imposed on hate crimes?
The NHRC is in no position to recommend specific punishments for hate crimes. How the perpetrators should be punished must be decided according to legal policies of the state. 
There have been suggestions that some politicians wish to re-include defamation in this revision of the Crime Prevention law. Does the NHRC support this move?
Defamation is included in the Criminal Code of Mongolia. The Crime Prevention Law itself does not have specifications to be applied for specific cases, for instance, in cases of defamation. This law focuses on what should be done to prevent all types of crimes and who or which organizations shall be responsible for the implementation of the measures for prevention in general. In other words, this law is a procedure-based law.
For example, if robbery takes place more often at certain locations, the organization in charge will conduct research about the cause of robbery. In that case, poor lighting systems might be identified as the reason those areas are regularly targeted. As a result, more streetlights will prove a valuable solution for future crime prevention – this is how the Crime Prevention law is applied.
Yet it proves very difficult to specify what should be done and by whom to prevent each type of crime under the law.
How much support and opposition has the hate crime legislation received in the parliament’s spring session?
The spring session discusses draft bills that have been approved in the previous session. We are not certain whether the revised draft has been passed onto to the spring session. If it was, it will be discussed according to that schedule.
Do you expect that it will pass with full support or will there be some opposition?
We hope it will be passed. Those who hold power in the government are the majority, the Mongolian Democratic Party (MDP). This party hasn’t been the majority for a long time, so we can see that the MDP is in a rush to make changes. The draft might pass just like many other drafts which were passed in parliamentary fall session last year. But we can’t tell for sure.
The current Criminal Code describes even minor violations as crimes of discrimination, as its legislative reach is too broad. As a result, we all run a very high risk of being connected to discrimination-oriented crimes. Crime legislations must be very specific. Penalties should be impose only after a thorough study on who the legislation applies to, the motivation that led to the crime and how bad the crime’s damage was and etc.
As a lawyer, I think the discrimination acts as outlined in the revised Criminal Code should be divided into two parts. Those cases that saw minor damage and consequences, and those more serious cases involving greater damage – and specific purpose or motivation – should be judged by the Criminal Code.
As it stands, if the revised code is passed, too many people might be considered to have taken part in discrimination.
The NHRC previously proposed this division in the discrimination law – we submitted this to the government via the Ministry of Justice, but it was denied. The ministry will review drafts of the Violation Law following the revision of the Criminal Code. It is possible that the Violation Law may also prove too broad in its reach.
When the laws are too broad, too many citizens might be called as suspects, which in return might violate their human rights.
Are there any specifically contentious groups that might cause debates over the Hate Crime Law – some who believe it unnecessary, as defamation and insult laws have already cover these issues? What would you say to convince someone that Mongolia needs something as dramatic as a Hate Crime Law in order to protect people’s rights?
If both the Violation Law and Criminal Code drafts were formulated with consistency prior to submission, I would’ve said you can’t either discriminate or hate other people for their difference. It is common sense that the world has acknowledged. People who hurt other people either physically or mentally, or by interfering with their freedom, should see their efforts penalized as crimes and face legal penalties.
The NHRC is a third party that proposes its ideas on legislations to the government. Ministries in turn submit drafts and formulate legislation. If it was the NHRC who submitted the revised draft, we would’ve divided the code into two parts, as mentioned earlier.
I’m also curious about the nature of the complaints that the NHRC regularly receives, since you’re the Head of Complaints and Inquiry Division.
The highest number of complaints we receive are connected to the current procedure of criminal interrogation and punitive actions. For instance, citizens who are imprisoned or being interrogated when called as suspects. They often contact us to complain about police procedure.
Labor rights complaints would be second, followed by complaints regarding state services. 
Our final question would be in terms of the future plans for Mongolia’s government to move towards more human rights legislations. Do you think that it is likely that Mongolia will make positive moves in the next three to five years, or do you think that this process is perhaps too slow for the Mongolian people?
We might generally divide these into two areas – political and civil rights, as well as social and economic rights.
Both implementation and enforcement of social and economic rights in Mongolia is very slow. These rights are connected to our daily lives, and how we should be able to live a healthy life in our society.  We should be able to independently develop and be free with options and opportunities.
In contrast, civil and political rights brings with it obligations and forces citizens to act in order to ensure their own freedom of expression.
I feel that the primary reason that social and economic rights in Mongolia are slowly implemented is perhaps due to budget issues. Therefore, we believe that there is a need to closely look at whether the budgets are properly spent or not. However, the NHRC is lacking power to monitor the budget spending alone.
If monitoring is carried out to ensure the state budget is being properly used for ensuring social and economic rights of the people of Mongolia, it will sure be an interesting piece.
When it comes to civil and political rights, approximately 80 percent of implementation of the rights has to do with legislation and 20 percent with budget. It is the other way in economic and social rights. This might help explain why progress is slow in the area of social and economic rights. For instance, it is doubtful whether it was more important to spend the state budget, built with taxpayers’ money, to reform police uniform which were all made in Turkey – or, instead, to improve institutions that provide basic social and economic rights for citizens, such as hospitals and schools.
Also, we are not sure how much the remaining uniforms that were saved apart from the ones the police wore previously cost in total.
Mongolia has both transparency and anti-corruption laws in place. Do you feel that these are well-implemented, enough to ensure that budget spending is adequately monitored?
I think one of the problems is that Mongolian people’s education. For example, we both enjoy full rights to ask the Minister of Justice how much the ministry spent on the new police uniforms, for example, and how much money is being wasted now that the old uniforms have been done away with. But the question, is how many people will go there to ask this question in reality? Transparency issues have a lot to do with citizens’ education and awareness, in my view.
All Mongolian citizens have the right to ask and obtain information from organizations, according to the Media Transparency Law of Mongolia. If any organization refuses to answer, citizens can contact the NHRC and report that such an organization is evading my freedom of information.
Apart from education, I believe Mongolian people’s traditional attitude is connected to poor implementation of transparency and anti-corruption laws. Many Mongolians do not regularly think critically, while some others try to stay away from bad consequences that might flow from their free expression and demands for information.

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