Mongolia: Cooperation in prosecuting domestic violence

2 May 2017

> 50% of all cases reported to the police in Mongolia relate to domestic violence, according to law enforcement officials.

> In 2015, national statistics showed a 25% increase in the number of domestic violence cases reported, compared with previous years.

> And, according to police statistics for 2016, in the first seven months of the year domestic violence cases were up more than 27% on the previous year, despite a decrease in general crime levels.

Implementation of IDLO’s work on domestic violence in Mongolia began in February 2016 against a backdrop of changes to the legislation and subsequent public debate on the matter. The country’s first law addressing domestic violence had been adopted in 2004, in 2016 the then Parliament passed a new law based, in large part, on international best practice. But after elections later that year, the new Parliament regarded it as ineffective and withdrew the law; following subsequent public outcry, it then re-started the process. The final legislation came into effect on 1st February 2017.

Much of IDLO’s work in this field during 2016 centered on capacity-building and, crucially, enhancing cooperation between different agencies in their work to tackle gender-based violence. Having met different actors in the justice chain and heard their experiences and frustrations, for the IDLO team the importance of greater cooperation to achieve better results in the prosecution of gender-based violence was apparent.

IDLO’s Field Program Manager in Mongolia, Oyunchimeg Dash, remembers the first time she brought together representatives of the different agencies – the National Police Agency, Office of the Prosecutor-General, Judicial General Council, Bailiff’s Office, Marshalls Authority and Law Enforcement University. The atmosphere was tense, she recalls, the different parties had a lot of criticism of each other. She says police and investigators told her they worked hard putting a case together, but because prosecutors didn’t always understand the issues, they sometimes refused to start a criminal case. The police couldn’t understand why. She left the meeting pondering how difficult it would be to bring them together in the fight against domestic violence.

But she looks back more positively on their last meeting in December of 2016 and is proud at just how much the atmosphere had changed, relationships had strengthened, the different professionals better understood each other.

Thirty-three trainers from the different agencies were trained during the program in 2016, and these went on to train one-hundred and seventy-five colleagues.

Co-training - carried out by joint trainers from different agencies - was conducted throughout the program. Staff from different parts of the justice chain had the opportunity to meet each other and hear about the problems they faced.

Oyunchimeg describes one of the greatest achievements, at the end of 2016, when participants from the prosecution explained what they needed from the police in order to pursue a criminal case, and the police explained what they expected from judges, etc. These parties had never been brought together before, now there was greater understanding of their respective roles and how they were mutually dependent. Some of the frustrations at the beginning of the year had been resolved. However, she acknowledges, the demand for training from within the various agencies is still great and there’s a clear role for the trainers – the main agents of change - to continue this and, also, act as mentors to colleagues. Understanding of the new law remains scant.

The backdrop of changing legislation in 2016 also brought an added obstacle for the IDLO team, with handbooks and training needing to be adapted to these amendments over the year. One of the challenges faced in Mongolia when it comes to combating domestic violence is the belief that it is a family issue and, traditionally, a feeling that the law enforcement agencies have more serious crimes to deal with.

Domestic and gender-based violence is prevalent in Mongolia, but the debates in the media and society around the new legislation in 2016 not only reflected the gravity of the problem, but raised the issue in the public domain. IDLO’s phase two work hopes to achieve more in the sphere of public awareness. As Oyunchimeg points out, Mongolia is a vast country and many administrative units lie in remote areas. It’s crucial, she says, to reach these and the public across the entire country.