Problems in Mongolia

Problems in Mongolia - Government Failing Human Trafficking Victims. A US State Department report released this week has criticized the Mongolian government for failing to do enough to curb the trafficking of men, women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labor. According to the eighth annual Trafficking in Persons Report, released on June 5, Mongolia is a source country for traffickers, with victims mainly sent to China, Macau, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, and South Korea.

The Mongolian Government is largely criticized for failing to provide protection, shelter, and direct assistance to its victims repatriated from other countries. It also did not ratify 2000 U.N. Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. The report also cited several reports of law enforcement officials directly involved in or facilitating trafficking crimes. It accused the government of refusing to provide information on these cases.

“Some high-level government and police officials have been clients of minors exploited in prostitution,” the report said.“However, the government rarely made available information related to convictions of and disciplinary actions against law enforcement officers implicated in trafficking-related corruption.”

One of the problems in Mongolia is reported in another alarming revelation, that international “sex tourists” were arriving in Mongolia. “There have been several reports of Mongolian girls and women being kidnapped and forced to work in the country’s commercial sex trade,” the report said.

“Some travel agents and tour guides who took part in an anti-trafficking workshop expressed concern that child sex tourism might be increasing; they noted that South Korean sex tourists were arriving in greater numbers and frequenting nightspots where girls and women were in prostitution.”

Problems in Mongolia - another form of human trafficking, the report said some Mongolian women who entered into marriages with foreign husbands, mainly South Koreans, were subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after moving to their husbands’ homeland.

While the government announced plan in 2006 to open a consulate in Macau to provide services to Mongolian nationals, including those who have been victims of trafficking, the report said “movement on this initiative appears to have stalled.”

The government however, has made significant progress in its efforts to address the problems in Mongolia, specifically, a human trafficking over the past year, particularly in the areas of legislative reforms. It expanded the scope of the anti-trafficking law to outlaw the recruitment, harboring and transportation of victims, making the prosecution of trafficking offenders easier.

During 2007, the government convicted 18 trafficking offenders, up from zero in the previous 12-month period. Seven of them were convicted under Article 113 of the Criminal Code, on trafficking in persons.

“At least two were Mongolian women who had trafficked other Mongolian women to a neighboring country.” The remaining eleven people were convicted under Article 124 of forced prostitution and were sentenced to prison.

US Ambassador Mark C. Minton said he believed “positive steps” were being taken. “I salute the people and Government of Mongolia for recognizing that the trafficking problem exists in Mongolia, and for taking positive steps to address this problem.

“We encourage Mongolian authorities to continue efforts to prevent trafficking and to make more effective use of existing laws against trafficking to prosecute and convict more traffickers as well as to improve protection and support for the victims of trafficking,” Minton said.

Mongolia may also be receiving victims of human trafficking, according to the report. Around 150 North Koreans are currently employed in Mongolia as contract laborers.

“Although there is no evidence of force, fraud, or coercion on the part of the North Korean government in the recruitment of North Koreans for these positions, once overseas North Korean workers do not appear to be free to leave their employment, and it is unclear whether the workers in Mongolia receive their full wages,” the report said.

On February 5, 2008, the Mongolian government signed an agreement with North Korea that it could bring as many as 5,300 North Korean laborers to Mongolia over the next five years.

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