Unions protest tax increases due to IMF agreement

Peaceful Assembly

The Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions (CMTU) organised a peaceful protest on 12th January 2018 against tax increases and retirement age changes at Sukhbaatar Square in Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar.

The protesters demanded that the authorities reverse a decision to extend the retirement age, as well as increase seven types of taxes, including personal income tax, fuel tax and social insurance fees. These taxes had been increased as part of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement signed in February 2017 to cover a budget deficit brought on by the economic crisis. Previously, in November 2017 teachers went on strike against a pay freeze due to the IMF agreement, as noted in the previous update.

General Secretary of the CMTU stated that:

“The purpose of today’s protest is to display our opposition to the government decision to increase the retirement age, social contribution fee, and personal income tax. CMTU has been strongly against these decisions ever since they were announced. If some kind of countermeasure isn’t taken, all CMTU members, especially workers of heavy industries, will even hold a strike”.

Expression

According to Amnesty International's report issued in February 2018, human rights defenders continue to report physical attacks and harassment by law enforcement authorities and private corporations in Mongolia. In addition, students with disabilities exposing discrimination and sexual abuse and journalists reporting on human rights issues, such as gender-based violence, have faced persecution. Existing laws have failed to protect them from harassment and unjustified interference with their privacy.

On 4th January 2018, the Globe International Centre and the Mongolian Bar Association signed a memorandum of understanding to promote freedom of expression in Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar’s National Legal Centre. The Mongolian Bar Association pledged to strengthen its support for journalism communities through its legal expertise. The Globe International Centre will hold capacity-building training events for members of the Mongolian Bar Association on the legal basis for protecting and respecting the right to free speech and expression. 

Association

Civil society organisations continue to work in close partnership with the National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia. On 4th December 2017, the 14th meeting between the Commission and civil society was held to promote collaboration and partnerships on a wide range of issues related to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Among the activities planned for 2018 include an event to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 20th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.