Mongolia`s youth are the most vulnerable under the country`s strict drug laws. Instead of treating addiction as a mental health issue, it is heavily criminalized. Many inmates continue to use drugs after release, with some turning to stronger drugs like methamphetamine because the punishment for smoking weed is just as severe. The government has been cracking down on the cannabis industry since 2016, but many find its methods too strict. Since all sorts of drugs — from ecstasy to weed to cough syrup — are classified under one roof, you can get up to two years in prison just for getting stoned, the same punishment for someone who sells methamphetamine. The government is now even considering life imprisonment for anyone who uses illegal drugs. The possession and use of any type of drug, including cannabis, is illegal. If you are convicted, you face a very long prison sentence in an institution with very rudimentary facilities. On 16 January, Mongolia`s parliament adopted amendments to the penal code that toughen penalties for drug traffickers. Under the law, those convicted of importing drugs into Mongolia are now sentenced to 8 to 15 years, while those who organize drug trafficking are sentenced to life imprisonment. Victim support structures in Mongolia are inadequate and psychosocial care is limited.

A culture of victim blame still exists in the country and victim-centred investigative techniques are underdeveloped. The government supports NGOs that support victims of human trafficking and has a consular fund to help victims exploited abroad, but there is a lack of proactive identification of victims. Within the Mongolian police structure, a witness protection unit operates. Medical care for drug addicts is also insufficient and limited to detoxification treatments. In addition, drug use is severely punished and, instead of being helped, users are pushed into the criminal justice system. In the area of prevention, Mongolia has a national anti-trafficking programme focused on awareness-raising. Public awareness campaigns against corruption and drug use have also been conducted and a training and information centre on drug awareness was established in 2019. However, action plans on relevant issues such as the fight against corruption or trafficking in human beings have not been designed or implemented effectively.

In addition, social workers and local officials who could work with vulnerable groups could benefit from additional training in prevention. The number of drug-related offences among young people in Mongolia has increased significantly in recent years. In the first eight months of 2019, for example, police arrested 294 people linked to 169 drug-related offenses. More than 80% of the authors are young people aged 18-35. Lack of knowledge about drugs, curiosity, trying to make easy money and weak law enforcement have been the main factors behind the growth in drug-related crime, according to experts. Under Mongolian law, a person convicted of drug trafficking currently faces at least two years in prison. “Since 2015, Mongolia has become one of the drug-consuming countries. The number of drug-related offences has continued to rise,” NPA spokesman Munkhtur Munkhshur said. “In the first two months of 2019, a total of 29 drug-related crimes were recorded in Mongolia,” Munkhshur said, noting that the number is almost equal to the number of such types of crimes recorded in the first half of 2018. One of the most popular drugs is cannabis. Weeds grow on approximately 1,498 hectares of land in eight provinces. From 2013 to 2017, the government spent more than $100,000 in taxpayer dollars just to destroy weeds that grow wild.

It takes all summer to get rid of it, only until the plant grows back the following year. Mongolia is a party to all relevant international treaties and conventions relating to organized crime. The country is constructive in promoting international cooperation. There are no reports from international organizations or other countries accusing Mongolia of obstruction, although some tensions with partner states have been noted. Foreign law enforcement agencies cooperate with their Mongolian counterparts through INTERPOL, while national customs agencies report frequent cooperation and exchange of information with their counterparts in the fight against trafficking in human beings. In accordance with Mongolia`s obligations under international treaties and conventions on combating organized crime, Mongolia`s legal framework sufficiently covers all organized crime-related offences relevant to the index. In addition, drug laws were strengthened in 2020 and an ongoing debate aims to reform the country`s legal framework to include emerging threats. Lack of knowledge about drugs, curiosity, trying to make money easily and weak laws are the main factors driving the growth of drug-related crime, she said. Mongolia has made a high-level commitment to improve its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism framework and was removed from the EU tax authorities` blacklist in 2018. Nevertheless, the country remains on the Financial Action Task Force grey list with significant gaps in AML/CFT legislation as well as persistent restrictions on law enforcement activities in the fight against money laundering. In addition, a financial investigation unit operates within the Bank of Mongolia, but corruption hampers the work of the unit.

As a result, the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing in Mongolia remains very high. Conversely, the country`s economic regulatory framework is somewhat business-friendly, although there are gaps. One of the main problems for business in Mongolia is the lack of a transparent and corruption-free framework to challenge regulations and resolve disputes. This is due, at least in part, to perceived high levels of corruption in the judiciary. Corruption in land administration also contributes to difficulties that undermine the business climate, while foreign land ownership laws hinder foreign investment and open up more opportunities for corruption. “I don`t think there`s a specific reason for a person to try the drug. It is what it is. It happened to me because it should happen, I think. Civil society is active in Mongolia, particularly in research on trafficking in human beings and victim assistance, but also in the fight against corruption and supports the work of IAAC. Overall, NGOs and government work well together, and there are mechanisms to formalize their cooperation through memoranda of understanding. Mongolia has made significant progress in media freedom in recent years, although the high concentration of media ownership and political party affiliation remains problematic. Changes to the country`s defamation laws in 2017 have been a cause for concern, as more than half of the country`s defamation cases have been brought against journalists.

Cannabis grows naturally in Mongolia, making it easily accessible, making it the most popular drug in the country. Nevertheless, the prevalence is not significant.