ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT OF MONGOLIA KHALTMAAGIIN BATTULGA AT PLENARY MEETING OF THE STATE GREAT KHURAL
Honored Members of Parliament, and Speaker of State Great Khural,
I shall address two issues related to the functions of the State Great Khural today.
Lately, there have been repeated incidences of crimes where children’s rights to life and health were seriously violated, leaving the society in distress and shock. At this time, I don’t have a choice but to address the State Great Khural.
First of all, I extend my condolences to the families and friends of children who lost their lives prematurely, falling victim to the common conduct of reluctance toward ensuring labor safety, and negligence of irresponsible officials and business activities.
The recent tragic incidents have exposed the ignorance toward child protection policy, lack of Government actions to fight violence against children, and chronic problems that were building up in the dark. During the last one year since I took office, I have been receiving news about how children became victims of crimes and irresponsibility almost every day.
I am going to mention some highly disturbing facts and figures here. In 2017, 1,752 children became victims of 1,692 crimes, whereas in 2018, the number of child victims increased by 40 percent against the same period of last year. Last year, 127 children lost their lives untimely, 55 of whom were involved in a road accident. About 200 teen suicides were recorded in the last four years. And 187 children became victims of sexual violence, with the age of the victims getting increasingly younger. 948 children were charged for crimes, 40 of which involve thievery.
The social root and reason of these incidences lies in poverty, unemployment, non-compliance with laws and regulations, and the dominance of irresponsibility in public service. All these irresponsible and unfortunate incidents are the consequences of lack of decisive policy and solutions from the Government toward ensuring the safety of children, and creating a child-friendly environment, plus a dysfunctional accountability system; and there is no other explanation. Therefore, the following measures must be taken immediately:
First, despite of existing provisions on complying with the standards for child protection, and creating the principles of a child-friendly environment in the Law on Child Protection and the Law on the Rights of Children, the standards and the principles haven’t been determined or complied with until today. It is necessary to urgently formulate and adopt the standards, issue an implementation guideline, and ensure compliance.
Second, organizations and components concerned with child protection, including the General Agency for Specialized Inspection, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sport, the National Council for Children under the Prime Minister, the National Police Agency and the Authority for Family, Child and Youth Development, must conduct a joint inspection at schools, kindergartens, playgrounds and all other child-involving environments, realize necessary measures to ensure safety, and report back before the start of the 2018-2019 academic year.
Third, in accordance with the 153rd Resolution of the Government, issued in 2011, the police organization must employ one inspector per 4,000 people. However, there is one police officer for 17-19 thousand children today. This creates conditions for shortage of personnel and time for preventing crimes by the police force. In a situation where the budget is low, engagement of citizens and assistance of communities and networks is required for crime prevention. I request You to work toward introducing the good practices of Japan and Southeast Asian countries in rewarding voluntary groups and citizens, who honorably fulfilled their civic duties by deterring crime, averting the consequences, and maintaining the peace of the community, and legalizing such conduct by inserting it in the Law on Infringement.
Fourth, I call upon the government organizations and officials, responsible for creating a child-friendly environment, to increase awareness on children’s safety and prevention of accidents among parents, educators and nurses through memos, notices and workshops disseminated by the media.
The existing report about 2,500 children annually being involved in household accidents, including being burned by a fire pan, indicates that there is a need for enlightenment campaign among parents to increase their responsibility, and build a safe living environment. We can only prevent accidents by running mass promotion along with the message that child protection is not only a job of the parents but also the society. I call for participation of the media in this mission in line with its social responsibility.
Fifth, the number of crimes against children and juvenile crimes significantly increased after the vacancy of childcare inspectors in police organizations was cut in 2012. In the last three years, 3,633 children committed crimes, and 4,574 children became victims of crimes. As a follow-up action of a discussion held by the Office of the President in November, 2017, a Child Crime Prevention unit was established in the central police body. There is a need to expand the unit to the police organizations of the capital city and provinces, and facilitate the vacancy and the budget. As the head of state, I officially and strongly urge You to take immediate actions, including installing CCTV systems in the most perilous sites for children, realizing the 312th Resolution of the Government, issued in 2017, in order to do so, and allocating and increasing the necessary fund for improving child protection.
Sixth, I demand that the State Great Khural and its affiliate bodies take urgent actions to assess the Law on the Rights of Children, the Law on Child Protection and the Law on Crime Prevention, and amend the laws with concepts deriving from real-life experience in regard to creating a child-friendly environment.
Honored Members of Parliament, I was personally acquainted with and oversaw the tasks to be carried out in accordance with each of the six demands I have specifically made today. The first half of your term has passed. The voters expect and demand that You realize the promises made in Your action program. Therefore, I call upon You to care about the creation of a child-friendly environment, and work together toward this goal.
Furthermore, as you know, there is the so-called ‘MNT 60 billion’ case, which has been on agenda since last year. I am forwarding my proposal to start the recess of the State Great Khural after discussing and resolving this issue at the plenary meeting.
On its issue of June 26th, 2018, the Washington Post newspaper published an in-depth article about how elections are conducted and positions are sold in Mongolia, or the so-called ‘MNT 60 billion’ case. This is not an internal issue, but an international one now. I have been told that 19 Members of the State Great Khural had signed a paper in favor of holding a public hearing regarding this case. I request that You discuss this issue first, and then start the recess of the session.