Parliament has recently been discussing the call for the resignation of Kh.Temuujin, the Minister of Justice. This however is not a chance incident. Rather, it is a reflection of a plot devised by a political-business group that intends to use legal means to remove from a position of power and influence the person who initiated and started implementing an absolutely vital reform in our legal system. This reform is essential to the very foundation of Mongolia’s democracy and market economy.
Our economy has developed rapidly over the last 20 years and has seen a principal change in private property relations. However, the reform that should have been made in the legal sector is still not complete, and it has been impeding our progress in development. Minister Temuujin reignited this waning reform that has now reached a stage where there is a requirement to replace those who are currently in the senior most positions in our legal system. Minister Temuujin is now facing strong resistance from all levels of government.
It is not a Mongolia-specific case, as many Eastern European countries in transition to democracy have faced the same obstacles and challenges in undertaking a reform in their legal enforcement agencies. A higher level of social and economic development is observed in the countries that have managed to implement such a reform and that have transformed their legal enforcement agencies into institutions that are able to uphold democracy and human rights, which serve the people, fight corruption, and keep operations transparent.
THE NEED TO REFORM LAW ENFORCEMENT
Legal enforcement agencies in Mongolia have become organizations that use force against civilians while favoring and protecting only those who are powerful and wealthy. Mongolians have not forgotten the fact that an era of repression and subjugation could take place if the legal enforcement agencies start protecting the interests and ideology of a political party or a small group of people under the name of ‘protecting public security’.
Minister Temuujin said that the governments we have had never wanted to change anything because the legal system favored only the senior positions in law enforcement and worked solely for their associates in political and economic spheres. At the same time, our workforce employed in the legal system has moved further away from social progress and values. He stressed that such conditions created a sense of despair among citizens who are supposed to be receiving legal services.
That is the reason why the Minister of Justice has started this complete reform in the legal system with the purpose of having a legal system that upholds justice in laws, provides equal services to all people, and helps the country to develop.
It is time to transform our legal system, especially the law enforcement agencies, into an institution that serves the people rather than the government. It is time to establish their responsibilities, make necessary changes to their structure, and accordingly change the laws that are currently in place. However, a part of the current government refuses to accept such reforms, is opposed to structural change, and is even plotting to force Minister Temuujin to resign. It helps us, the citizens, understand why our legal enforcement agencies have not yet changed.
Establishing the rule of law means that everyone will be equal and not discriminated against under the law. Mongolians want a legal system where the law applies the same to everyone regardless of reputation, wealth, power, and connections.
AFTER THE REFORM
The legislature has to be an organization that serves rather than enforces. People always have the need to receive services regarding law and security. Therefore, it should be an organization that serves the people. After the reform, their organization and way of doing things will be changed so that citizens will no longer be terrified, embarrassed, controlled, and threatened by law enforcement agencies. Until it is decided by court, no one should be treated as a criminal. There should be no way to restrict people rights as a suspect.
Law enforcement agencies need to have transparent operations that are reported on to taxpayers. We do not currently have that, which is why, after all these years, we still have not found the murderers of one of the leaders of our democratic revolution and the five people who were shot dead for taking part in a political protest. After the reform, we will have measurements that should prove whether the law enforcement officers are working within the boundaries of the law.
The reform in the legal system will mean that the Independent Authority against Corruption, which has started raising concerns among citizens, will have a clearer status and distinction of who they are responsible to. Furthermore, the relationship between different law enforcement agencies will be more collaborative and there will be improved services aimed at security. In order to make it happen, law enforcement officers will need to be provided with extensive training.
A new culture will be formed in law enforcement agencies as a result of the reform. People will be able to live without fear, respect law enforcement organizations, and cooperate with them. Only then can Mongolians have full confidence in the future.
Continuing and completing the legal reform initiated by Minister Temuujin is a deciding moment in the fate of our democracy and freedom, which are the most precious values we share.
However, it is likely that this reform could be suspended. It demonstrates that Mongolia’s democracy is still vulnerable. Crime groups shielded by political parties and political power are currently attempting to stop the reform. Minister Temuujin explained his stance when he tweeted:
“The reforms in the legal system have turned into a struggle between political groups that have spread to political parties, white-collar crimes, law enforcement officers that have plotted with criminals, and corruption that is protected by legal organizations. If they are thinking of privatizing public property, political parties, and ministries of government, I shall say NO to them. I shall not resign like you want me to. Come what may, regardless of what false accusations or insults that you come up with, I shall stand firmly against them. If you want, reveal yourselves and click on your voting buttons.”
We need to continue and complete the reform in our legal system and law enforcement as soon as possible. It has become the most important and urgent task before Mongolia’s society today. Mongolian citizens are saying NO to those political groups as well.