Monitoring visits revealed successive transfers of detainees in Mongolia
The National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia recently conducted preventive monitoring visits to several pre-trial detention facilities in the country. One of the findings was that many suspects are detained far from their homes and that they often are transferred from one pre-trial detention facility to another.
In January 2016, the Human Rights Commission conducted preventive monitoring visits to pre-trial detention facilities in the Orkhon and Darkhan-Uul provinces. The main purpose of the monitoring was to test a new manual on preventive monitoring of torture in detention institutions, which has been developed within the Torture Prevention Ambassadors project.
What we found was an increased rate of transfers of suspects between pre-trial detention facilities in Mongolia.
Any person investigated for criminal charges has the right to visits by family members, to individual interviews with a lawyer, and to immediate legal assistance in the criminal process. These rights are guaranteed by international instruments as well as by national legislation:
“If a detained or imprisoned person so requests, he shall, if possible, be kept in a place of detention or imprisonment reasonably near his usual place of residence.”
Principle 20 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
However, during the recent preventive monitoring visits, the Human Rights Commission found that there are still a number of cases where persons are detained in facilities which are far from their place of residence or the place where they are investigated. Suspects are also transferred between various detention facilities successively.
The Commission argues that detaining a person in a location which is remote from his/her family and continuously transferring them from one detention center to another is considered as inhumane and degrading treatment.
For example, in the pre-trial detention facility in Darkhan-Uul province, nine suspects were being detained very far from their home. Some of them had been transferred from a pre-trial detention center in Ulaanbaatar, others were being transferred to pre-trial detention centers of other provinces. There are indications that this repeated transferal of suspects between facilities are undertaken by the authority of an ordinary investigator, and that the prosecutor who should supervise the case ignores the misconduct of investigators.
We will now have to work with the relevant authorities to improve the implementation of the national and international instruments against torture, as well as other laws and policies regarding legal and judicial practices.
A group meeting with officers at a detention facility in Mongolia.
Agar-Erdene Gankhuyag is Head of policy analysis and human rights education at the Mongolian Human Rights Commission. This is part of a series of blog posts by participants in the APF/APT Torture Prevention Ambassadors project.
Earlier blog posts include:
- The paradox of temporary lock-up cells in the Philippines, by Jacqueline de Guia
- Good internal data systems - important tools for prevention of torture, by Sidonio Soares