MONGOLIA: JUSTICE AND COOPERATION
Here is the full text of the speech presented by the Director General of the Independent Authority Against Corruption of Mongolia (IAAC), Commissioner General Z. Dashdavaa, at the "National Conference of Judiciary and Law Enforcement Officers" organized on October 15, 2021, under the auspices of the President of Mongolia.
This report summarizes the corruption situation, it causes an,d conditions in Mongolia, especially in the judicial and law enforcement sectors, and the difficulties and achievements in the fight against corruption. He also put forward new suggestions on many issues that deserve further attention, such as improving the legal environment against corruption and empowering human resources.
From this report, it is believed that getting a brief and clear understanding of Mongolia's future actions and policies in the fight against corruption is possible.
JUSTICE AND COOPERATION
Special civil servants working in Mongolia's judiciary and law enforcement agencies, and representatives of the legal sector – Good morning.
Let's start my speech with the main thing that unites us gathered here today.
Article 11 of the Constitution of Mongolia states that "The State must secure the country’s independence and ensure national security and public order."
As mentioned here, the duty of the state to protect vital values such as independence, national security, and social order is carried out by the judiciary and law enforcement officials.
This role has always been a difficult one in the past, and the current situation presents us with great challenges. Many factors such as the pandemic, economic crisis, social inequality, and environmental degradation, which have a strong impact on the country's social movement and people's lives, determine the current situation.
If we stay true to our oath, work together, and get the support of the people, we can overcome all these challenges. The situation of corruption is also highly dependent on these conditions.
However, the current situation aggravates the situation of corruption but is not the main cause of it.
The essence of the problem lies in the loss of the principle of justice, which is one of the basic principles of state activity, as stated in Article 1 of the Constitution of Mongolia.
Citizens' understanding of justice may differ, but as a principle of government action, the measure of the concept of "justice" is determined by whether the law is being followed or not.
That is why, at the very beginning of the basic duty of a citizen in the Constitution of Mongolia, it is written: "to respect and abide by the Constitution and other laws."
Due to the increasing number of people who neglect their duty to abide by the law, justice is being lost and corruption is not going away.
Public perception and international evaluation of the corruption situation in Mongolia are not very positive. For example, according to the 2020 results of the CPI released by Transparency International, our country was ranked 111th out of 180 countries with 35 points.
Mongolia's score has not changed from 2019, but it has moved down 5 places. From the sources used to calculate Mongolia's CPI, the Country Risk Ratings decreased by 12 points, and the Rule of Law Index decreased by 3 points.
It can be said that the decrease in the Rule of Law Index, or the decrease in the evaluation of the activities of law enforcement agencies, contributed to Mongolia's decline by 5 places.
Despite the relentless efforts of law enforcement and judicial officials in the field of law enforcement and crime fighting, some indicators of the evaluation of the situation in Mongolia by international organizations are at a very poor level. If we want to improve the indicators of such a study and index the situation of corruption in Mongolia, we need to take significant steps in the direction of fighting corruption.
There are reasons for us to attach importance to external corruption surveys and indices on corruption and take measures. The findings of these surveys directly affect the reputation of our country on the international stage, and the understanding and imagination of foreigners about Mongolians, and are also a significant factor in the amount of foreign investment, which is necessary for the expansion and diversification of the economy.
That is why the Government initiated a Working group to improve indicators of Mongolia's CPI.
We are pleased to announce that within the framework of the cooperation between this Working group and the IAAC, we have begun to implement drastic reforms to eliminate the root causes of corruption and the entrenched conditions in certain sectors and territories.
We hope that the results of these activities will begin to appear very soon.
The IAAC operates its activities within the framework of international agreements such as the UNCAC, and domestic legislation such as the Anti-Corruption Law, the Law on the Regulation of Public and Private Interests and the Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Public Service, the Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, and the Law on Civil Service.
The IAAC is responsible for educating the public against corruption, preventing corruption and detecting corruption crimes, carrying out inquiries and investigations, reviewing asset and income declarations and declarations of personal interests of persons stipulated in the Anti-Corruption Law, and performing research and analysis on the causes and conditions of corruption.
In 2016, the State Great Khural (Parliament) approved the National Anti-Corruption Program, and the main purpose of the program is to prevent the risk of corruption in public institutions, officials, private sector, civil society, political parties, and groups, aimed at fostering the idea of justice in the public and developing a transparent, open and responsible society.
In 2020, the IAAC developed its Strategic plan to ensure the implementation of the international agreements signed by Mongolia and the domestically approved laws and regulations in the field of anti-corruption, to monitor and direct the implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Program and coordinate with the current situation and the resources of the organization.
The strategic goals to be followed by the IAAC during the implementation of this Strategic plan have also been defined in this framework. We have formulated our strategic goals as follows and are pursuing them in our activities:
The cooperation and support of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies are essential to the achievement of these strategic goals. In particular, the statement that "detection, investigation, and handling of corruption crimes will be implemented based on cooperation" is a statement of the need to cooperate with you.
The IAAC investigates the crimes of corruption specified in Chapter 22 of the Criminal Code of Mongolia and the money laundering crimes it discovers during the investigation, as well as the crimes of misappropriation and torture brought to its jurisdiction by the decision of the prosecutor's office.
The number of cases investigated by the IAAC in 2020 increased 15.7 times compared to 2007, when the IAAC was first established, 10 times compared to 10 years ago, and 5.6 times compared to 5 years ago. In other words, the number of corruption crimes that are detected and investigated is constantly increasing. Addition, another serious indicator is the significant increase in the amount of damage caused by this type of crime.
Since the establishment of the IAAC, from 2007 to 2020, a total of 5,991 criminal cases have been investigated, 1,200 indictments have been made, 497 cases have been resolved in court, and damages of 95.5 billion MNT have been compensated.
As of the first half of 2021, 924 cases were investigated, 119 indictments were made, and 44 cases were resolved in court.
The IAAC is constantly working to expand its channels for receiving applications, complaints, and information from citizens, the public, and corporate organizations. In 2020, a total of 2,282 applications, complaints, and information were received, investigated, and resolved, and as of the first half of 2021, 1,126 were resolved.
Since the launch of the 110 hotline, in 2020 alone, a total of 17.8 thousand calls have been received, 4.5 thousand people have been given advice and information, and 317 complaints and information related to corruption crimes and infringements have been registered.
As of the first eight months of this year, 90.4 billion MNT was compensated, and 119.5 billion MNT of movable and immovable property and cash were sealed.
It should be noted that the support of the prosecutor's office was important in the compensation process.
Many cases have been successfully investigated and resolved through the cooperation of the IAAC and other government agencies. For example, in 2019, the Working group appointed by the joint orders of the heads of the IAAC, the General Intelligence Agency, and the National Police Agency worked on 30 criminal cases and finally resolved 24 of them.
Based on the UNCAC, regardless of whether the two countries have signed an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal cases, the IAAC can obtain information and documents about crimes from foreign countries as evidence and use them in cases. These include Canada, Switzerland, Austria, the USA, Russia, Panama, Latvia, the British Virgin Islands, France, Australia, and Ukraine.
The results of the investigation and resolution of corruption crimes depend on many factors. For example, the legal framework; capacity, resources, management, and organization of investigative, monitoring, and resolution institutions; knowledge, skills, workload, professional ethics, cooperation, etc. of detectives, prosecutors, and judges.
Corruption crimes are often committed by officials with relatively high education, specialized knowledge, and extensive information. That is why detectives, prosecutors, and judges need specialized skills and tireless efforts to detect, investigate, prove, and finally solve crimes committed by them in advance.
Documenting corruption cases can take days, months, or years, and is costly. Also, there are many difficulties in the process of proving the detected cases.
The work experience, skills, and attitude of the detective have a certain influence on the fate of the case. Therefore, when appointing detectives of the IAAC, in addition to taking into account work experience and knowledge, candidates are specially checked to see if they have violated human rights or committed disciplinary and ethical violations in the past.
Deficiencies remain that detectives, prosecutors, and judges rely on experience, use stereotypical methods, rely mainly on testimony, and miss important circumstances and facts when investigating and resolving corruption crimes and malfeasance.
Therefore, let's increase the knowledge and skills of detectives, prosecutors, and judges to investigate and resolve corruption cases, and acquire the necessary specialist knowledge and skills. This is one of the priorities of our cooperation.
A significant percentage of those involved in corruption crimes and malfeasances are politically influential persons. For example, an average of 10 percent of people who are investigated for corruption and malfeasance in a year are political officials. Those high-ranking government officials are abusing their powers granted by law for their interests, distorting the basic principles of government operations, and undermining the public's trust.
The proposal submitted by the IAAC was supported by the State Great Khural, and in 2020, amendments were made to the relevant laws, so that members of the Mongolian Parliament and the Government must swear to be "free from corruption and conflicts of interest". This is a major step towards improving the accountability and ethics of high government officials.
All special civil servants sitting in this hall take the oath. In the future, I think there is nothing wrong with proposing to include "being free from corruption and conflicts of interest" in the oath taken by special civil servants.
It is necessary to review the legal regulations related to the immunity of officials, especially high-ranking government officials. Let's combine our opinions on amending the relevant laws to the extent that the immunity regulation does not apply in cases of corruption and malfeasance.
Other regulatory issues need to be addressed.
For example, the type and amount of punishment imposed by the court for the crime of bribery are not equivalent to the number of bribes received by the official and the damage caused to the government due to that act. The public considers such a decision unfair. This, in turn, creates doubt and mistrust in the effectiveness of the anti-corruption system.
Revision of the Criminal Code in line with the UNCAC and the special inclusion of a chapter on Corruption has the advantage of improving the legal framework for combating corruption. However, the types and characteristics of crimes included in this chapter are difficult to understand and apply in one line, they are ambiguous and require explanations, which makes them difficult to implement.
Adjustments such as clarifying the definition of the crime of corruption, tightening the form and amount of punishment, and extending the statute of limitations are necessary.
It's time to use modern techniques and technological advances to ensure continuous and speedy proceedings.
Due to the situation and multiple lockdowns that have arisen in the last two years, there have been difficulties in the continuity of proceedings.
It is proposed to create a legal arrangement to conduct some proceedings electronically to investigate the case without delay and continuously.
It is necessary to further improve the "electronic database of crimes" created for investigation, prosecutor's office, and court activities, to provide detectives with access rights to tax, customs, and other government records and databases, and eliminate difficulties caused by differences in the internal organization, regulations, and technologies used by these organizations. Also, it is time to focus on improving the interoperability of electronic databases and, ultimately, organizing information exchange quickly and efficiently.
There are some concepts and relationships of practical importance that have not yet been incorporated into national legislation and should be codified. For example, agent, final owner, beneficiary, etc. We will not be successful without taking these concepts into account when detecting, investigating, and solving serious crimes in addition to corruption.
There are some examples of cases involving high-ranking government officials and money laundering cases in which agents and final owners were identified and held accountable.
Although there are certain provisions in the Law on Prevention of Crime and Infringements and other laws regarding the reporting of crimes and obtaining information for a fee, they are not regulated in terms of the protection of informants and provision of information, so they cannot be implemented in practice.
In the opening speech of the autumn session of the State Great Khural, the Speaker of the Parliament mentioned the importance of urgent discussion and approval of the Draft Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers for the Sake of Public Interest. If the issue of protecting whistleblowers or whistleblowers can be solved in this way, there will be great progress in the formation of mechanisms for obtaining information about crimes.
However, the issue of funds to be used to reward informers has not been regulated.
It is possible to solve the financing of the funds to be used to reward the informant by the regulation of the Special Assets Law, which regulates relations related to the settlement of the seized, sealed, and frozen assets and income related to the crime of money laundering, terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their financing.
The results of the investigation of corruption, malfeasance, and money laundering crimes, the transfer of criminals, and the detection of illegal assets derived from crime depend on other factors, in addition to the regulation of domestic laws and the capacity of law enforcement agencies. Active cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies is needed to effectively investigate corruption, malfeasance, and money laundering crimes.
In this respect, the UNCAC is a treaty of practical importance. It is quite possible to cooperate with countries that do not have mutual legal assistance agreements based on this convention.
It is time to study the experiences of providing mutual legal assistance and signing agreements for confiscation, and return of criminal assets and income in foreign countries, and take significant legal and organizational measures in this field.
In connection with the widening of the nature and scope of the crime that is occurring worldwide, digitalization or globalization requires the participants in the proceedings, such as detectives, prosecutors, judges, and lawyers, to acquire a certain range of knowledge and skills.
For example, it is important to take into account the specifics and uniqueness of the case, to use the information of domestic and foreign media, and various official databases, and to obtain evidence through them when traditionally solving a case.
Furthermore, the ability to analyze open information, conduct financial investigations or trace money and assets, use formal and informal lines of international cooperation, seek reparations, restore violated rights, or return stolen assets is essential.
I have emphasized the importance of the knowledge and skills of the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, and legal professionals. At the same time, there is also a problem that is often discussed and criticized but cannot be repeated. It's about ethics, morals, and loyalty to vows.
Legislation, ethical and disciplinary rules to be followed by law enforcement officials are approved at reasonable levels. However, it is worrying that due to poor implementation, some officials have been accused of corruption and prosecuted.
It is unfortunate to mention that citizens, civil servants, and researchers who participated in the Integrity Assessment Survey in 2018 and 2019 within the framework of the Anti-Corruption Law, evaluated the legal institutions at a rather unfavorable level.
This survey is the largest national survey on the situation of corruption. The survey is conducted annually by an independent and external organization, involving about 10,000 citizens of 21 provinces and the Capital City.
A significant part of the respondents expressed that they believe that the legal institution is corrupt.
It is crucial to increase the public's confidence in the anti-corruption system by having the officials of the legal organization strictly follow the law, and ethical and disciplinary norms, and be charged in every case of violation. Therefore, we urge you to set a standard that can be an example for society, government institutions, and the people.
It is important to gain the trust of citizens and to turn their attitudes and imaginations in a positive direction in the fight against corruption.
Leaders of courts and legal institutions should always openly express their intolerance of corruption, fight against corruption, and their desire to make the next generation live in a corruption-free society, and lead by practical actions. If we can do this, it will be an important form of our cooperation.
An important part of the system for preventing corruption is the declaration of assets and personal interests by officials and the preliminary declaration of personal interests by persons appointed to public positions.
More than 10,000 officials working in legal organizations submit such declarations. Many types of violations are still found in the review of those declarations.
28.4 percent of the total complaints received by the IAAC in 2020 and 26.5 percent of the complaints received in the first 9 months of 2021 were related to legal institutions. Of these, 57.4 percent were related to corruption crime, and malfeasance, and 7.3 percent were related to conflict of interest.
More than a quarter of applications, complaints, and information about corruption crimes and violations in the country are attributed to legal institutions alone. This fact and the other issues mentioned above indicate that it is time to correct our mistakes, clean up the team, and strive for dignity.
It was mentioned at the beginning of the speech that Mongolia's independence, national security, and social order rest on our shoulders.
If we, who are working to maintain justice, law, and order, lose our principles and forget our oath, it is at least possible to lose our honor, position, and life.
We must always keep in mind that if this situation worsens, the country's independence, national security, and social order will be lost.
I hope that all of you who are participating in this conference will think about these issues seriously, think broadly, and approach them from the ground up.
I would like to express that we will accept the recommendations and conclusions discussed at this conference and implement them in our activities.
Let's make efforts together for "Justice and Development".