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IV. Governance issues

Open government

The U.S. Embassy in Mongolia reports that Mongolians have begun the process of improving transparency and access to information in the country.1 The government is considering amending its State Secrets law, which many consider overly restrictive.2 The law currently extends the definition of "state secret" to include not only national security interests, but also a host of non-sensitive information such as census data, audits of state owned companies and draft laws, amendments and regulations.3 As of May 2007, the Cabinet of Ministers discussed a final draft of a Freedom of Information law,4 but action was postponed on the law to allow it to be discussed along with draft laws on information security and information technology.5

In November 2006, the international anti-corruption non-governmental organization Transparency International (TI) included Mongolia in its annual "Perceptions of Corruption" survey. Mongolia ranked 99 out of 163 countries and its score (2.8 out of 10, where 10 is the "best") is "poor."6 In addition, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) surveys of Mongolia, conducted in 1999 and again in 2002 and 2003, also indicate a growing and serious entrenchment of bureaucratic and political corruption in Mongolia.7 The Mongolian government signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in April 2005 and ratified it in January 2006.8 In addition, draft anti-corruption legislation is under consideration by Parliament.9 A 2006 U.S. State Department report finds that one factor contributing to the growing corruption problem involves the lack of transparency and access to information that surrounds many government functions.10 Journalists have been subjected to physical intimidation by government officials as well as private citizens unhappy with news reports.11 Government interference with licensing and indirect intimidation of the press, particularly the broadcast media, is also a concern.12

International obligations

In the past 15 years, Mongolia has made key progress in terms of respect human rights, including protecting privacy, but much remains to be done to ensure to full consistency with international law. Mongolia has joined more than 30 international treaties and conventions on human rights.13 It has ratified eight United Nations conventions on human rights.14 However, Mongolia has not yet joined the following international conventions concerning automatic personal data processing: Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (Convention No. 108);15 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;16 and European Council Directive on the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Processing of Personal Data and on the Free Movement of such Data 95/46/EC of 1995.