2011/06/04

Pressure is on Demanding the Release Editor-in-Chief of Daily Newspaper

Globe International and Confederation of Mongolian Journalists demand Mr. Chuluunbaatar Dolgor, Editor-in-Chief of daily newspaper Ulaanbaatar Times, to be released on bail.
Chuluunbaatar Dolgor, 51, Editor-in-Chief of the daily newspaper Ulaanbaatar Times, was arrested on 24 March 2011 and put in Detention Center No 461. On April 7, 2011, he was indicted for allegedly “illegal privatization and serious damage of public property.” In 2008 the newspaper was privatized by the Capital City Privatization Commission and D.Chuluunbaatar was head of the management privatization team.

If found guilty he faces 15 years imprisonment under the relevant article of the Criminal Law of Mongolia.

Since the investigation by the Capital City Investigation Office, D.Chulunbaatar has consistently denied the allegations and claims innocence.

When D.Chuuluunbaatar accepted the position of editor-in-chief in 2008, the newspaper had no office because the building had been partly destroyed; the newspaper has debts of millions of MNT to the Taxation and Social Insurance Authorities and the staff have remained unpaid. He has made strenuous efforts to improve the newspaper’s financial situation.

The newspaper office was in the building of the former state printing house, near Ulaanbaatar’s central square and just left of Government House. The Mongolian media has reported that the building was privatized by Enkhbayar Nambar, the former Prime Minister, Parliamentary Speaker and President, 2000-2009.

He lost his position in the 2009 Presidential Elections.

During the investigations he has been frequently asked who was behind him. Once, investigators met him without the presence of his lawyer, when they told him, “It is better for you to say who is behind you. You are getting old and your health is deteriorating.

If you refuse to tell us who is behind you, it will be detrimental for you.”

Such police action is in violation of provisions of the Constitution of Mongolia, the Law on Criminal Procedure and the Law on Arrest and Detention of Suspects and Defendants, under which no one can be compelled to testify against him/her, and which bans unlawful action and psychological pressure.

D.Chuluunbaatar is in poor health. On April 2, 2011, staff at Shagdarsuren, a leading private hospital, concluded that he hadserious health problems and needed urgent treatment to safeguard his life. On April 27, 2011, this prognosis was confirmed by a doctor at the Detention Centerhospital, where hehad been a patient for a week.

He and his defense lawyers have applied nine times for bail, which has consistently been denied.

On May 9, 2011, Globe International convened a press conference calling for his immediate bail. In an International Statement, we stated that his arrest was unjustified and we expressed concerns about violation of his human rights.

We consider this is in fact a deliberate and politically motivated attack on the free media. Globe International has sent letters to the Capital City Prosecutor; Mr. Dorligjav, General Prosecutor of Mongolia; Mr. Bayambadorj, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission; and Mr. Kh.Temuujin, MP and Chairman of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Mongolian Parliament, asking for an investigation into these human rights violations and support for his release on bail.

The arrest of Ch.Chuluunbaatar has been one of the hot topics of the Mongolian media reports since the Globe International press conference. The Confederation of Mongolian Journalists joined the action and they also convened the press conference and issued a Statement for the immediate release on bail on May 17, 2011.

Mr. D.Chuluunbaatar is an outstanding journalist who began his journalistic career in 1987 on Mongolian Television, the only channel at that time. He has contributed greatly to the development of Mongolian journalism with popular television documentaries about those who were ‘repressed’ under communism and many other programs.

He has been a fighter for free media press and against violations of journalists’ rights. He is a respectful activist of Mongolia’s media freedom movement.
In connection with Mr. Chuluunbaatar, who is also the Vice-President of Asia Journalist Association (AJA), has been in custody for two months, the AJA and the Reporters Without Borders already have expressed great concern over his custody and issued statements raising doubts about the connection between his custody and political interest.

After the investigations into the actual situation in Mongolia with the Mongolian Journalists and Government the Asia Journalist Association confirms that this is obviously an illegal act and therefore we announce the statement below.

The Asia Journalist Association will deliver this letter of protest to all those related to Dolgor Chuluunbaatar’s illegal custody including Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj, Prime Minister S. Batbold and Minister of Justice and Home Affairs Ts.Nyamdorj, through the Embassy of Mongolia in Republic of Korea on June 2nd 2011.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a media release, calling for immediate release of Mr. Chuluunbaatar from detention and full transparency in the case being brought against him.

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