May 3: World Press Freedom Day, Mongolia- Safe to speak!

Globe International Centre, Mongolian free expression NGO and the Mongolian Journalists Association under support of Open Society Forum, Mongolia marked the World Press Freedom Day 2013 on May 1, 2012 at the OSF Conference Hall. It gathered more than 75 politicians, officials, international organisations,NGOs, journalists and media practitioners.

G.Jargalsaikhan, Secretary General, Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO and in his speech he stressed that Mongolia is in the 98 place in accordance with the free press index of the Reporters without Borders. He introduced the UNESCO’s 2013 WPFD concept note “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” which focused on three sub-themes: Ensuring the Safety of Journalists and Media Workers Combating Impunity of Crimes against Press Freedom and Online Safety.

Members of the Parliament M.Batchimeg, Uyanga, D.Sarangerel as well as E.Bat-Uul, Ulaanbaatar City Mayor, who initiated the Media Freedom Law in 1998, attended the event. Ms. M.Batchimeg noted “Media freedom is a freedom of journalists having responsibility to report truly to exercise their professional duty” and stressed that the right to know of free Mongolian people is on the hand of high officials and owners.

Mrs. Naranjargal Khashkhuu, President of Globe International has taken presentation on the present media freedom situation and she highlighted that “We are marking this year’s WPFD with number of threats against freedom of media”

37 web sites were closed and licenses of 44 cable television stations terminated after the inspection of the Communications Regulatory Commission (CRC).  The Government has taken decision to establish a Unified System of Comments in Websites on January 5, 2013by its Cabinet Meeting. The decision obliges “ to intro­duce software to stop comments having slander or threat, main web sites operate under the Unified System of prohibited words introduced by the CRC and the government considers that it will offer to take the legal and controlling measures identifying the related person by checking from the system in the case, if other person affected by information launches complain about comments containing information with character of such crimes as libel, insult, obscenity and threats. The State Registration Authority will register the users’ information who posted comments based on the civil data and database of mobile phone us­ers. In doing so, they will follow the related rules and procedures of the state and individual privacy”.

GIC registered in total 45 cases of the free expression violations including assaults, intimidations, threatening, detention and criminal defamation. The most sensational criminal defamation case ended with 8.5 mln. MNT (approx. US$6.200) fine imposed to female journalist D.Bolormaa from daily newspaper Zuunii Medee who wrote an article about human trafficking. The judicial process was so quickly after Mr.B. Narankhuu, a plaintiff, rich businessman who became MP.

The Participants discussed the crucial issues of media freedom, journalism ethics, editorial independence, parajournalism, confidential sources, legal environment issues of online expression and Internet regulation also were one of the topics discussed by the participants.

The participants endorsed the Call to the Parliament and Government of Mongolia to dissolve the decision, to provide independence of the CRC, legislation for protection of the confidential sources and recognise the community media at policy, legal and regulatory levels.The Call signed by major media NGOs, applauds the new version of the Criminal Law, which will be publicly discussed next week, repeals criminal defamation and expresses hope that Parliament will pass without any changes.

The Call has been handed over to Mr. Ch.Saikhanbileg, Head of the Government Officeon May 3. To read the call please follow this link.The 2013 Media Freedom Award “For the Truth!” handed over to A.Amarsanaa, cameraman and G.Batkhishig, reporter of private SBN TV who were seriously injured and their camera broken while they were reporting the illegal operation of the night clubs in Ulaanbaatar.
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