Pres­i­dent Kh.Bat­tulga went ahead with his stated ef­fort to re­in­state the death penalty for in­di­vid­u­als charged with rape, mur­der, tor­ture, and ag­gra­vated mur­der against chil­dren.

On Novem­ber 27, the Pres­i­dent sent an of­fi­cial let­ter to the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and In­ter­nal Af­fairs Ts.Nyam­dorj ad­vo­cat­ing for the re­in­state­ment of the cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in se­vere cases in­volv­ing chil­dren as vic­tims.

In Oc­to­ber, the Pres­i­dent made a state­ment to the me­dia out­lin­ing his ef­forts to re­in­state cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in Mon­go­lia, ex­plain­ing that Mon­go­lia had not yet reached a stage of de­vel­op­ment so­cially where it can af­ford to abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment.

“Mon­go­lia’s so­ci­ety has not reached a stage where it can abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. We can­not talk about abol­ish­ing cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment when in­di­vid­u­als in our so­ci­ety have not been fully adapted to so­ci­ety. Only when our so­ci­ety sta­bi­lizes, can we dis­cuss abol­ish­ing cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment,” stated the Pres­i­dent.

“Up un­til 2012, Mon­go­lia im­posed cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment on those found guilty of rape or sex­ual as­sault against a mi­nor. Cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment was abol­ished in 2012, be­com­ing ap­proved in De­cem­ber 2015 and com­ing into ef­fect on July 1, 2017. Cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment has been re­moved from the newly amended Crim­i­nal Law,” the Pres­i­dent’s state­ment con­tin­ued.

Sur­pris­ingly, Pres­i­dent Kh.Bat­tulga men­tioned Ikh Zasag, code of law cre­ated by Ching­gis Khaan, when jus­ti­fy­ing the use of cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. He de­scribed how peo­ple caught wash­ing their clothes in flow­ing rivers and traitors were pun­ish­able by death in Ching­gis Khaan’s em­pire.

The main ba­sis on the Pres­i­dent’s ef­forts to push for a re­in­state­ment of the death penalty has been a string of pub­li­cized cases of rape, mur­der, and ag­gra­vated mur­der in­volv­ing chil­dren. The ma­jor­ity of pun­dits and the Mon­go­lian public agreed that the heinous crimes that have taken place re­cently have been a shock to the Mon­go­lian peo­ple.

In his let­ter to Min­is­ter Ts.Nyam­dorj, the Pres­i­dent ref­er­enced the Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion’s report which in­di­cated that a child as young as a year and four months old had been a vic­tim of rape. The Pres­i­dent also men­tioned in his let­ter that the same report showed that 298 chil­dren aged from two to seven be­came vic­tims of rape.

How­ever, one pe­cu­liar statis­tic that the Pres­i­dent brought up was the rate of abor­tions of women aged 20 or younger. Specif­i­cally, he men­tioned that 1,613 girls be­tween the ages of 12 and 17 had given birth, and that 1,668 abor­tions were re­ported among in­di­vid­u­als younger than 20. Kh.Bat­tulga linked these rates to un­wanted preg­nan­cies and rape com­mit­ted against chil­dren.

The Pres­i­dent men­tioned that more than 58 coun­tries around the world still em­ploy the death penalty, specif­i­cally nam­ing Rus­sia, China, and South Korea. He also brought up chem­i­cal cas­tra­tion used in coun­tries such as France, Poland, Ger­many, and Switzer­land.

How to ad­dress the is­sue and specif­i­cally how to pu­n­ish the con­victed has been where many have di­verged from the Pres­i­dent’s stance. One vo­cal ad­vo­cate against the re­in­state­ment of the death penalty is O.Munkh­saikhan, doc­tor of law and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the School of Law, Na­tional Uni­ver­sity of Mon­go­lia.

O.Munkh­saikhan he ac­tively sought to abol­ish cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment in 2015 and suc­ceeded. In light of Pres­i­dent’s Kh.Bat­tulga’s ef­forts to undo much of what has been ac­com­plished in the last 10 years, Doc­tor O.Munkh­saikhan has been ac­tively ad­vo­cat­ing against the Pres­i­dent’s ef­forts to re­in­state the death penalty.

O.Munkh­saikhan stated that Mon­go­lia is ob­li­gated by the Sec­ond Pro­to­col of the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights to abol­ish the death penalty. How­ever, Pres­i­dent Kh.Bat­tulga has stated that Mon­go­lia has the right to reser­va­tions and does not have to be ob­li­gated by the Sec­ond Pro­to­col that abol­ishes the death penalty.

Out­side of Mon­go­lia’s obli­ga­tions in terms of in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions and covenants, Doc­tor O.Munkh­saikhan has out­lined seven rea­sons why the death penalty should re­main abol­ished.

One cru­cial fac­tor ac­cord­ing to O.Munkh­saikhan is that the death penalty has been and can be im­posed wrong­fully on some­one in­no­cent. He brought up spe­cific cases men­tioned in a book by at­tor­ney L.Nin­j­bat, where a brother was ac­cused of rap­ing his sis­ter and sub­se­quently ex­e­cuted. Five years later, it was de­ter­mined that the brother was in­no­cent and the real per­pe­tra­tor was found.

An­other case was an in­di­vid­ual named Er­deneOchir in Zavkhan Prov­ince who was in prison for six years and had been called for the death penalty three times. Even­tu­ally, he was found in­no­cent and not ex­e­cuted. O.Munkh­saikhan said that a study showed that crim­i­nal cases have a 20 to 30 per­cent chance of reach­ing the wrong ver­dict.

“Even if we im­proved our courts and our legal sys­tem greatly, it is still im­pos­si­ble to cre­ate a sys­tem with­out any flaws,” said O.Munkh­saikhan.

On that ba­sis alone, many have ad­vo­cated for Mon­go­lia to not re­in­state the death penalty “based on emo­tions”. The Mon­go­lian public has sym­pa­thized with the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies and some have gone fur­ther to call for the death penalty, what many have called a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to the hor­ren­dous crimes.

Many have crit­i­cized the Pres­i­dent for us­ing the death penalty as a po­lit­i­cal tool to ap­pease the Mon­go­lian public. In­deed the Pres­i­dent’s state­ment that Mon­go­lia had not de­vel­oped enough as a so­ci­ety is far from the truth. It is not as if Mon­go­lia is the only coun­try to fall vic­tim to these types of crimes. It hap­pens all around the world and coun­tries only vary on how they han­dle the sit­u­a­tion. Ref­er­enc­ing the Ikh Zasag of the 13th cen­tury to jus­tify the use of the death penalty in Mon­go­lia’s mod­ern demo­cratic so­ci­ety is sim­ply not con­ducive to the coun­try’s val­ues.

It is hard to fault the fam­i­lies of vic­tims and the Mon­go­lian peo­ple in gen­eral for want­ing jus­tice for the hor­rific crimes that have oc­curred re­cently. How­ever, it would be a short-sighted and irrational to re­in­state the death penalty based on emo­tion with all things con­sid­ered. The ab­sence of the death penalty does not equal the ab­sence of jus­tice.

The Mon­u­ment for the Vic­tims of Po­lit­i­cal Re­pres­sion

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