Kh.Naran­jar­gal: Toss­ing out the ar­ti­cle on defama­tion crimes was a step for­ward

The UB Post - - Editorial -

The ar­ti­cle on defama­tion should not be re-in­cluded in the Crim­i­nal Code. In the least, peo­ple will be scared to speak their mind. A demo­cratic so­ci­ety pro­tects the ba­sic hu­man rights. Ex­press­ing one’s opin­ion is a ba­sic hu­man right. Ar­ti­cle 19 of the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights states, “Ev­ery­one shall have the right to hold opin­ions with­out in­ter­fer­ence”. So, with­out ex­press­ing our opin­ion, how can we crit­i­cize the wrong­do­ings and faults in our so­ci­ety?

World­wide, defama­tion cases are tri­aled by the civil court. Some Mon­go­lian lawyers view that it’s im­pos­si­ble for the lo­cal civil courts to de­cide on these types of mat­ters. Can you com­ment on this?

Peo­ple are an­gered when there’s news of the govern­ment mak­ing a wrong de­ci­sion or a state of­fi­cial get­ting con­nected to cor­rup­tion. When they say some­thing about it, they are ac­cused of defama­tion. We would have a se­ri­ous prob­lem if all of these cases are con­sid­ered for penalty. This is an act to re­strict peo­ple’s right to ex­press their opin­ion. Im­pos­ing any form of pun­ish­ment on such cases could be­come a vi­o­la­tion of the UN and in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions rat­i­fied by Mon­go­lia.

The UN Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion re­viewed the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Mon­go­lia and gave 164 rec­om­men­da­tions. Eight of them were re­lated to the free­dom of opin­ion and ex­pres­sion. The Mon­go­lian govern­ment an­nounced to the whole world that it has ac­cepted these rec­om­men­da­tions. Later, it in­cluded them in its ac­tion plan.

In May, the govern­ment re­ported that one of the eight hu­man rights rec­om­men­da­tions had been ful­filled. This was ac­com­plished by re­mov­ing the ar­ti­cle on defama­tion from the Crim­i­nal Code. It’s wrong to can­cel that de­ci­sion which helped cross out one of the to-do rec­om­men­da­tions.

Toss­ing out the ar­ti­cle on defama­tion crimes was a step for­ward for Mon­go­lia to some ex­tent. But it was mean­ing­less to put it back into the Law on Con­flicts. If a per­son is pun­ished for defama­tion in ac­cor­dance with the Law on Con­flicts and he or she re­peals, the case will have to be re­viewed by the Crim­i­nal Cases Court. In that sense, there’s still the fear that peo­ple could be­come a crim­i­nal (if they say some­thing wrong).

How well is Mon­go­lia fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions of in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions?

In July 2017, the UN Hu­man Rights Com­mit­tee re­viewed the Mon­go­lian govern­ment’s sixth re­port on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights by its state par­ties. A team led by Deputy Min­is­ter for Jus­tice and In­ter­nal Af­fairs B.Enkhba­yar pre­sented the re­port. The Hu­man Rights Com­mit­tee made new con­clu­sions and rec­om­men­da­tions.

The sixth rec­om­men­da­tion ad­vised the govern­ment to make press re­stric­tions con­sis­tent with in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions and com­pletely re­move the ar­ti­cle on defama­tion from the Crim­i­nal Code. It rec­om­mended the pro­tec­tion of jour­nal­ists and me­dia spe­cial­ists from threats and con­straints by politi­cians, and erad­i­cate such ac­tions through ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures. Yet, the cur­rent Crim­i­nal Code spec­i­fies im­pris­on­ment for any­one who is deemed guilty of defama­tion or slan­der of a can­di­date dur­ing an elec­tion. We must en­force rec­om­men­da­tions of in­ter­na­tional bod­ies be­cause in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions and agree­ments need to be aligned with the laws of Mon­go­lia.

In the Con­sti­tu­tion, our coun­try prom­ises to ful­fill its obli­ga­tions ac­cepted from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. We shouldn’t go against it.

The law ini­tia­tors claimed that bring­ing back the defama­tion ar­ti­cle will pro­tect the rights of jour­nal­ists. Do you agree with this state­ment?

This ac­tion is caus­ing fear not only among jour­nal­ists but also or­di­nary peo­ple. Re­stric­tion on crit­i­cism is a threat to the peo­ple’s rights to freely ex­press their opin­ion. Peo­ple will get the no­tion that they will be im­pris­oned if they say any­thing. This ar­ti­cle on defama­tion will be­come a shield for those with power and money. Fi­nan­cially and so­cially in­flu­en­tial peo­ple will take ad­van­tage of this reg­u­la­tion for their own ben­e­fit. Just for writ­ing an ar­ti­cle and ex­press­ing their thoughts, jour­nal­ists and or­di­nary in­di­vid­u­als will turn into crim­i­nals through this pro­posed idea.

For ex­am­ple, peo­ple who are trav­el­ing abroad get au­then­ti­ca­tion for their crim­i­nal his­tory from the po­lice. If a per­son has been pun­ished for defama­tion, it will be­come a crim­i­nal record. This ar­ti­cle can­not be­come a pro­tec­tion for jour­nal­ists. Jour­nal­ists are re­quired to re­port timely news con­sis­tent with the pub­lic’s in­ter­ests. When do­ing so, they could make a mis­take with the num­bers or add their opin­ion to the ar­ti­cle and for do­ing so, they shouldn’t be turned into a crim­i­nal.

The pub­lic has the right to mon­i­tor the state. That is why they rely and trust me­dia out­lets. This ar­ti­cle on defama­tion will ob­struct jour­nal­ists’ obli­ga­tion as the fourth gover­nance and re­strict their abil­ity to su­per­vise the state.

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