On 4 December 2015, the Mongolian Parliament adopted a new Criminal Code. Among other things, the new Code repealed the general criminal defamation provisions on defamation. The new Criminal Code was scheduled to take effect on 1 September 2016. However, in July 2016, Parliament voted to re-discuss the new Criminal Code. At the time of this writing (January 2017), this discussion is still ongoing. This analysis therefore reflects provisions contained with in the previous (still valid) Criminal Code, indicating some, but not necessarily all, of the changes planned for the new criminal code.
1. Criminal defamation and insult laws
Slander (Criminal Code Art. 110): Defined as “wilful humiliation of an individual’s honour or dignity expressed in the means of mass media”. The penalty is a fine equal to 20 to 50 times the minimum salary or imprisonment for one to three months.
Defamation (Criminal Code Art. 111): Defined as the “spreading of knowingly false fabrications defaming another individual”. The penalty is a fine of 20 to 50 times the minimum salary or imprisonment for one to three months.
For defamation committed by means of the mass media or by a person upon whom an administrative penalty for defamation was previously imposed, the penalty is a fine of 51 to 150 times the minimum salary or imprisonment for three to six months (Art. 111(1)).
In the case of defamation connected with the accusation “of a commission of a serious or grave crime”, the penalty is a fine of 151 to 250 times the minimum salary or imprisonment for two to five years.
New Criminal Code
The new Criminal Code approved by Parliament on 4 December 2015 provides for the repeal of general criminal provisions on defamation. The enactment of this code has been delayed.
The new Administrative Code contains the following provisions related to defamation:
Art. 7.3.1: In the case that information defaming the honour and dignity of person is disclosed and distributed through media and social media, the individual shall be fined in amount of tögrög equal to 1000 units and legal entities shall be fined in an amount of tögrög equal to 10,000 units.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
Insult of a state official or a public order public inspector (Art. 231): Defined as the insult of “a state official or a public order public inspector in public in connection with performance of their duties”. The penalty is a fine of five to 50 times the monthly salary, 100 to 150 hours of forced labour or imprisonment for one to three months.
Slander of judge, citizens’ representative, inquirer, investigator, prosecutor, advocate or court decision executor (Art. 259): Defined as slandering one of the named figures “in connection with consideration of the case in court, conduct of inquiry and investigation or execution of the court decision”: The penalty is a fine of five to 50 times the minimum salary, 100 to 150 hours of forced labour or by incarceration for one to three months.
New Criminal Code. Defamation of political parties and candidates (Criminal Code 2015 Art. 14.8.1): In the case that the reputation of political parties, coalitions and candidates participating in the election is defamed and clear false information disseminated, a penalty of fine of tögrög equal to 450-5400 units shall be imposed and [the offender] shall be imprisoned from one month to one year”.
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
According to Art. 26 of the Law of 15 July 2005 on Public Freedom of Expression, acts of defamation and insult committed against the memory of the dead are not subject to liability unless the accused intended to harm the honour of the living heirs.
Profaning the objects of a religion (Art. 207 Criminal Code) through words or gestures, on occasion of a religious ceremony, whether inside or outside places of worship; or insulting religious ministers in relation to their function. Either act is punishable with imprisonment of one to six months and/or a fine according to Art. 26(2) of the Criminal Code.
According to the Globe International Center’s Media Freedom Report 2015 , in the year 2015 Mongolian courts heard a total of 14 criminal defamation cases, five of which were against media outlets. In 2014, media were targeted in nine out of 12 criminal defamation cases; in 2013, three out of nine; and in 2012, four out of eight . The report noted that out of a total of 738 civil and criminal defamation cases filed between 1999 and 2015, 54.3 percent were against media and journalists.
It further noted:
“As to criminal penalties, fine amounting to 9 792 000 tugrugs (equaling to minimum wages increased by 51 times) was the highest amount of fine. In 2015, criminal penalty included 3 months and 1 day of detention in accordance with provision 111.2 of the Criminal Code; 22 days of detention and 4 200 000 tugrugs of fine for a journalist.”
Criminal Law and Media
The Globe International Center’s report highlighted several examples of criminal defamation cases against journalists :
• Journalist S. Battulga of info.mn faced criminal defamation charges “due to publishing a statement issued by Noyod Group LLC. She was arrested on 5 July 2015 […] The journalist was found guilty of insult of ordered to pay compensation of 21 million tögrög (approx. US$11000)”.
• “S.Nergui, Representative of Citizens Representative Khural of Nalaikh District filed criminal defamation case against D.Batchimeg, journalist from Nalaikhiin Amidral newspaper. The journalist had published an interview with O.Ganbold, Democratic Party Group head. However the criminal case was dismissed.”
• A governor, B. Shineregel, filed a criminal defamation lawsuit against TV5 station after the station “reported from Bayan soum’s Citizens Representative Khural meeting and aired the reportage on news & current affairs programme ‘Tsag’. The station reported critical positions of the meeting’s representatives.”
Recent Legal Changes
On 4 December 2015, the Mongolian Parliament adopted a new Criminal Code. Among other things, the new Code repealed the general criminal defamation provisions on defamation. The new Criminal Code was scheduled to take effect on 1 September 2016. However, in July 2016, Parliament voted to re-discuss the new Criminal Code. At the time of this writing (January 2017) this discussion was still ongoing.
Notes and Acknowledgements
Information for Mongolia was originally collected by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It is reprinted here with the permission of the OSCE. Last update: March 2017.
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.