27 September 2020
Mongolia has been lauded for its efforts to contain the coronavirus despite having a long, porous border with China. As of 23 September, there had been 313 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and no deaths. However, there appears to be no publicly available information indicating the impact of the virus on migrants or asylum seekers, or whether people in detention or prisons were given additional safeguards to prevent the spread of the disease.
The Law of Mongolia on the Legal Status of Foreign Nationals provides that foreign nationals can be detained for immigration-related offences, and that detention centres are to be established in the capital city and/or at border checkpoints. The rules of operation for these detention centers are to be approved by a Member of Cabinet in charge of justice in consultation with the State Prosecutor. However, little information is publicly available regarding the treatment of migrants or asylum seekers in immigration enforcement procedures in the country.
The Mongolian constitution guarantees the right to seek asylum; however, the Child Education Institute of Mongolia and the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion report that protection is “poor and the law permits the Agency for Foreign Citizens and Naturalization (the country’s immigration agency) to deport failed asylum seekers.” In addition, refugees reportedly do not have access to necessary services such as health care and education, nor the right to work. In its 2020 UPR submission on Mongolia to the Human Rights Council, Amnesty International recommended that the country ratify the UN Refugee Convention.
Because of its long border with China, Mongolia has long been seen as being particularly vulnerable to human trafficking activities. These concerns have grown as the country’s demand for cheap labour for its mining industry has increased. According to the 2020 U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report, while there have been positive developments in the government’s identification of victims and prosecution of traffickers, there remain gaps in its ability to identify foreign or male victims, establish standard identification or referral procedures, and investigate cases of labour exploitation.
- Child Education Institute of Mongolia and Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, “Joint Submission to the Human Rights Council at the 36thSession of the Universal Periodic Review: Mongolia”, Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion, 3 October 2019, https://files.institutesi.org/UPR36_Mongolia.pdf
- Human Rights Council, “Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions on Mongolia: Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Thirty-sixth session”, Human Rights Council, 24 February 2020, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G20/046/30/PDF/G2004630.pdf?OpenElement
- B. Lkhaajav, “Mongolia’s Small-Country Strategy for Containing COVID-19,” The Diplomat, 28 March 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/mongolias-small-country-strategy-for-containing-covid-19/
- T. Mishra, “COVID-19 means development setbacks for Mongolia: a UN Resident Coordinator blog,” UN News, 25 July 2020, https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/07/1068821
- The State Great Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia, “Law of Mongolia on the Legal Status of Foreign Nationals,” Mongolia Immigration Agency, 1 September 2010, http://mn.immigration.gov.mn/legal/LAW%20OF%20MONGOLIA%20ON%20THE%20LEGAL%20STATUS%20OF%20FOREIGN%20NATIONALS.pdf
- U.S. State Department, “Trafficking in Persons Report - 2020,” 2020, https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-trafficking-in-persons-report/
- World Health Organization, “Mongolia Situation,” World Health Organization, 23 September 2020, https://covid19.who.int/region/wpro/country/mn
- The Mongolian Military Mans a Checkpoint During a Covid-19 Outbreak Drill, on 7 May 2020, (A. Nyamdavaa, "Practice Makes Perfect? Mongolia's Covid-19 Outbreak Drill," The Diplomat, 9 May 2020, https://thediplomat.com/2020/05/practice-makes-perfect-mongolias-covid-19-outbreak-drill/)