Mongolian president calls for abolition
“I ask Mongolia to put behind us this death penalty which degrades our dignity to death”, the country’s new president Elbegdorj Tsakhia told the parliament in Ulan-Baator on January 14.
Elbegdorj’s abolitionist views are nothing new. As he reminded members of parliament, he was already arguing for the repeal of the death penalty as part of constitutional reform when he was sitting among them 19 years ago.
This time, in his first speech on the issue since he took office in June 2009, Elbegdorj detailed eight reasons for abolishing capital punishment – citing most of the arguments regularly put forward by World Coalition member organisations.
He insisted on the existence of more efficient alternatives to ensure punishment of criminals and highlighted that the death penalty leaves no room for reparation in cases of miscarriages of justice. “There are instances where the death penalty was imposed on an innocent individual instead of the actual offender,” he said.
He added that the death penalty was used for political reasons and by foreign powers in Mongolia in the past, and that it should be scrapped to ensure such repression never happens again.
“Mongolia is to revisit its capital punishment policy, although belatedly”
Elbegdorj also stated that, “as a member of the global family”, Mongolia could not keep using a punishment that “degrades human dignity”. He referred to the global trend towards abolition, including at the United Nations, and said: “The State of Mongolia is to revisit its capital punishment policy, although belatedly as the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world have already chosen to abandon capital punishment. And we must join their path. The road democratic Mongolia has to take ought to be clean and bloodless.”
Citing internal reports and studies by World Coalition members such as Amnesty International, the president added that the secretive administration of the death penalty in Mongolia amounted to a “blind and dark hole, just like hell”.
He announced that he would establish a moratorium on execution by commuting all death sentences to prison terms through presidential pardon, and called on lawmakers to move forward towards abolition.
However, with Elbegdorj’s political supporters holding a minority of seats in parliament, the task will not be easy.
Several abolitionist states and the European Union have welcomed Elbegdorj’s speech.