The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Confederation of Mongolian Journalists (CMJ) in condemning the laying of criminal defamation charges against Mongolia’s TV9 television station and its investigative news team, in response to the airing of a documentary disclosing allegations of corruption against government officials.
On December 17, 2011, TV9 broadcast a story concerning the alleged illegal privatisation of a publicly owned building located in the center of the country’s capital, Ulaan Bataar. The documentary, titled “Detective-2”, linked the sale to corrupt activities of high ranked government officials and urged police to investigate.
Shortly afterwards, on December 22, P.Otgonjargal,police major of the State Investigation Authority investigating the privatisation, filed a criminal defamation claim against TV9 and its news team at the Sukhbaatar District Police Department in Ulaan Bataar.
TV9’s documentary team including senior producer D.Turmunkh, reporter N.Binderya, director N.Bayarsaikhan and presenter L.Erdenebaatar were questioned by police. The station’s director, Ts.Enkbat, was also questioned. It is reported that police implied the possible forced detention of the team during the questioning.
In December 2010, another Mongolian journalist,Bolormaa Damdinsuren, was charged with criminal defamation after publishing a news report implicating a well-known Mongolian businessman in criminal activity.
“The IFJ is concerned that the quick recourse to criminal defamation action has a chilling effect on free and fair journalism, and does little to advance the public interest,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
“The IFJ has long maintained its opposition to criminal defamation laws, and urges the Government of Mongolia to repeal current defamation laws and institute defamation as a civil offence, with relevant safeguards for press freedom and journalists’ ability to report on matters of public interest.”
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