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Criminal defamation charges brought against journalist

(Globe International/IFEX) - July 30, 2012 - Globe International NGO is concerned about the criminal defamation charges brought against L. Bayaraa, a journalist from Uls turiin toim (Political overview) daily newspaper. L. Bayaraa published an article in the newspaper's issue No.095 on May 21, 2012, headlined "A secret election plan of MP D. Odkhuu to be lost".

Believing that he had been defamed by the article, D. Odkhuu filed a criminal claim with the Bayangol District Police Department.

On July 4, 2012, Bayangol District's prosecutor opened a criminal defamation case against the journalist. The journalist had no opportunity to become acquainted with the details of his case. On the day that the case was transferred to the court, he was detained for 3 hours without a decision by the court.

Furthermore, D. Odkhuu demanded that the journalist reveal his information sources.

On July 23, 2012, judge G. Ochmandakh, of the Bayangol District, ordered the journalist's detention on the grounds that he arrived 27 minutes late for the trial. The journalist spent 24 hours at the Detention Center No.461. The trial was postponed until July 26.

On July 26, 2012, L. Bayaraa was sentenced to pay compensation 70 times the minimum wage (approx. US$105) or 9,828,000 MNT (US$7,350).

Globe International strongly condemns the actions of D. Odkhuu and G. Ochmandakh, considering them a breach of the Constitution of Mongolia, which guarantees freedom of expression, speech, and opinion. Moreover, this is a violation of the main principles of press freedom and journalists' professional rights.

The UN Human Rights Committee discussed the report of the Mongolian Government on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) during its meeting No.101 held on March 14-21, 2011, in New York, USA. The UN Human Rights Committee recommended that the Mongolian Government decriminalize defamation, in accordance with Article 19. However, the Mongolian Government has taken no such action to this day. Globe International believes that the Government should fulfill its human rights obligations and repeal the criminal defamation legislation.

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