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Mongolia: Protect Media Independence and Journalists’ Rights

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Journalists’ struggle against the unlawful activities of the National Board of the Mongolian National Public Radio and Television (MNPRTV) has resulted in the acceptance of the journalists’ request to enhance transparency of the National Board. Mongolia must ensure the independence of the media and protect the rights of media workers.

The 76-hour-long hunger strike of six MNPRTV journalists concluded with a successful negotiation with the National Board of the MNPRT.  The negotiation, which was jointly organised by Globe International and the Committee of the Trade Union Board of the MNPRTV, acceded to the demands of the journalists to cancel dishonest examination credentials and promote participation of the journalists in the decision making process.  For two years the National Board of the MNPRTV ignored the calls of MNPRTV journalists and staff to suspend dishonest actions.  In response, the journalists formed their own organisation, the Collective Board, from which six members began a hunger strike on 6 July 2007.

On 27 January 2005, the Mongolian Parliament enacted the National Public Radio and Television’s Act in order to liberate Mongolia from the media control of its biggest political parties.  Under this law the National Board of the MNPRTV was established by Parliament to facilitate the independence of the MNPRT. The 15 members of the National Board of the MNPRTV consisted of representatives from civil society organisations. However, the sincerity of the National Board of the MNPRTV was immediately questioned as certain activities indicated possible illegality.  For instance, the appointment of the General Director of the MNPRTV and other higher officers, in defiance of the good-faith intention of the Act, created an anti-competitive Committee of Control. Furthermore, in May 2007 the National Board intended to dishonestly de-certify and discharge many journalists and staff under the auspices of failed examination credentials.  This recent incident demonstrates that the National Board has not been executing their functions as an objective body with the purpose of liberalising the programme policy of the MNPRTV. Consequently, the majority of MNPRTV journalists and staff pressed Parliament to investigate the work of the National Board with a possible finding for dissolution and to amend the National Public Radio and Television’s Act.

Mongolian civil society groups, such as the Union of the Mongolian Journalists, the Land of the Mongolian have been supporting the journalists and have noted that the MNPRTV cannot work for the public’s best interest unless there are dramatic changes to the activities of the National Board.  Additionally, one of the NGO representatives at the strike highlighted the broader complications associated with the access to information in the media by stating:  “MNPRTV should be giving the time for information and transmission of the civil society organizations. But they require 100 000 tugrucks [Mongolian currency] for only 1 minute program,”1.

FORUM-ASIA applauds the Mongolian journalists in their struggle to promote the freedom of the press and the right to access information. Yet political patronage of the media is contrary to Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Mongolia is a party.  Under  Article 19 of the ICCPR people  have the right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his or her choice.

The subsequent developments initiated by the Mongolian Parliament and the National Board of the MNPRTV will be closely monitored to ensure the independence of the media and the protection and promotion of journalists’ rights.


For further information, please contact Erdenechimeg Dashdorj, Consultant of the Northeast Asia Country Programme ( [email protected], +66 (0)2 391 8801 ext. 104)