Protection of human rights defenders in Mongolia

Mongolia adopts new law for human rights defenders, the first of its kind in Asia. This encourages other countries in the same milestone to make laws aiming to protect and encourage their fighters defending human rights.

The years of collective effort of the Mongolian government to make Law on the Legal Status on Human Rights is seen with the help a civil society and the  UN Human Rights, and in cooperation with the UN presence in Mongolia. The new law means defenders in the country are now legally protected and their rights respected, promoted and fulfilled.

The original draft bill on the protection of human rights defenders was presented before Parliament in December 2020. It was then sent to a parliamentary working group for finalization. However, changes proposed to the draft law in that process would restrict the rights of human rights defenders.

Contrary to international law, the revised draft restricts defenders’ rights to: solicit, receive and utilise resources; freedom of association and assembly; freedom of information and expression; promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; and participate in public affairs.

The Human Rights Forum of Mongolia and ISHR used the Mongolia’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to directly call on the Government to strengthen the draft law, remove restrictions on human rights defenders, and ensure it complies with international law.

Historically, human rights defenders in Mongolia – while living in a relatively safe environment – have still faced numerous obstacles such as pressure, stigmatisation, and hate speech on social media.

Human rights defenders in Mongolia speak out on a number of issues: media freedom, climate justice, disability rights, access to housing, and discrimination against LGBTI people, harassment and intimidation.

Some human rights defenders were reported to have died in circumstances that had not been properly investigated. The adoption of this law will serve to acknowledge their crucial work, to bring the perpetrators of attacks against them to account, and to end impunity.

The law will enter into force on 1 July 2021.

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