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Mongolia: Amnesty Law Adopted

(Aug. 4, 2009) The Mongolian Parliament approved an amnesty law on July 9, 2009, which entered into force on July 11 and was in force until July 30. It covered those who committed crimes before June 24. (Mongolian Presidential Amnesty to Benefit 2,000,, July 16, 2009, Open Source Center No. CEP20090716950089.) The country’s new president, Harvard-educated Ts. Elbegdorj, elected on May 24, initiated the legislation. At a press conference Elbegdorj stated, “[s]ome 2,400 people will be released, while another 900 will have their sentence[s] reduced.” (Mongolian President Seeks to ‘Dispel Misconceptions’ on Amnesty Law,, July 27, 2009, Open Source Center No. CEP20090727950108; Initial Findings – Observation of Mongolia’s 2009 Presidential Elections, The Asia Foundation website, June 29, 2009, available at

The amnesty law applied to persons who committed minor crimes and to first-time offenders. According to presidential advisor G. Ganzorig, “underage criminals, mothers with underage children and single men will be amnestied or have their sentences reduced. Those who committed heavy crimes will have their sentences reduced by three years, those who committed serious crimes by two years.” (Mongolian Presidential Amnesty to Benefit 2,000, supra.) The amnesty law did not cover crimes related to corruption and individual property rights. However, Ganzorig indicated, it did apply to the large majority of the 130 persons imprisoned in connection with the July 1, 2008, riots in Ulaabaatar and to persons convicted of traffic crimes. (Id.) The law did not provide for a blanket amnesty for female offenders; those charged under article 91, on murder, and article 148-3, on cheating, of the Criminal Code “are totally outside the purview of the amnesty,” President Elbegdorj stated at the press conference. (Mongolian President Seeks to ‘Dispel Misconceptions’ on Amnesty Law, supra.)

In connection with crimes of corruption, Elbegdorj pointed out that there is no reference to corruption “as such” in the Criminal Code, and “not a single person has been so far sentenced to a prison term for corruption.” He added, “[i]n its three years of existence, the Anti-Corruption Agency has investigated and filed charges but not one case has so far been decided in court.” (Id.) When asked by a reporter whether the application of the law could have been restricted to the imprisoned July 1 rioters, Elbegdorj was quoted as stating “he had wanted to go beyond the basic principle that a democratic Mongolia should not have political prisoners. The jails had too many people serving sentence[s] for a first crime. The number went up in the last few years as laws were applied too harshly … .” (Id.)