Concerns continue to emerge that suggest Mongolia’s current law on press freedom does not go far enough to protect the rights of journalists to report freely, local journalists have suggested.
The Law on Press Freedom, composed in 1998, has long since been a sticking point for many in Mongolia’s media industry.
“Some of these clauses have been implemented very well,” T.Baasansuren, director of the TV9 television, explained. “For example, the state owned newspapers such as Ardiin Erkh and Parlamentiin Sonin became public status newspapers.”
“But now some members in Parliament want to privatize press and create their weapons to protect them.”
Mongolian President Ts.Elbegdorj would submitted amendments to the press freedom law to Parliament during last spring session. Yet soon after, the President would retracted the amendments, resting responsibility for the backdown with media outlets.
The head of the working group assigned to the bill, M.Ganchimeg, stated in an interview to open.parliament.mn that “the President took back his bill because he met protest and statements of media owners whilst it was discussed by the government.”
“Generally, the press law involves many people’s interests. The main reason why democratic countries release press law is to guarantee public’s right to receive information. The political, business and journalist have high interest on passing this law but the media owners are treating this carefully,” she explained.
The draft press freedom law would not act to decriminalize defamation: a charge which could see journalists and editors alike imprisoned and/or heavily fined, should they be found guilty.
Internationally, numerous countries have long since sought to remove defamation from criminal statues. The International Press Institute, for example, has been appealing to abolish criminal defamation, arguing that this discourages and punishes critical reporting.
“[Yet] Mongolian Journalist’s Union and other media organizations have hardly tried to abolish criminal defamation clauses in the Criminal Code,” T.Baasansuren said.