Lodoisambuu Sanjaasuren, Lawyer

Re: Lodoisambuu Sanjaasuren, Lawyer

To: Natsagiyn Bagabandi, President of Mongolia

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier, Mexico monitor of LRWC

Date: 2005-05-20

LRWC is deeply concerned about the situation of lawyer Lodoisambuu Sanjaasuren, who is currently imprisoned in a ¡°restricted prison¡± outside of Ulaanbaatar, Bayanzurkh District, and is suffering health problems.

In November 2004, Mr. Sanjaasuren was convicted of the crime of exposing state secrets and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. Mr. Sanjaasuren¡¯s conviction arises out of his representation of Enkhbat Damiran, who alleged torture at the hands of Mongolian General Intelligence Agency officers after being kidnapped from France on May 15, 2003. LRWC is informed that Mr. Damiran was suspected in the 1998 murder of opposition politician, Zorig Sanjasuuren, although Mr. Damiran had no known links to the victim and there is no evidence to link him to the murder. So far as LRWC is aware, Mr. Damiran has not been prosecuted for the murder of Zorig Sanjasuuren.

In the course of his representation of Mr. Damiran, Mr. Sanjaasuren helped Mr. Damiran to televise the details of his apprehension and treatment by the General Intelligence Agency. LRWC understands that this action led to the charges against Mr. Sanjaasuren. Mr. Damiran was also charged with revealing state secrets, tried in October 2004, convicted, and sentenced to 3 years imprisonmen. In April 2005, Mr. Sanjaasuren lost an appeal against his conviction. LRWC is not aware of Mr. Damiran¡¯s current legal status.

LRWC respectfully protests the conviction and detention of Messrs. Sanjaasuren and Damiran on the charges of revealing state secrets. With respect, the nature of the information apparently revealed by Mr. Damiran on the television, and Mr. Sanjaasuren¡¯s role in securing access to media for Mr. Damiran, cannot legitimately constitute a charge of revealing state secrets in any legal system. Moreover, Mr. Sanjaasuren¡¯s conduct occurred in the course of his retainer as counsel. LRWC respectfully reminds the Government of Mongolia of the internationally recognised right of lawyers to pursue their professional activities without harassment or adverse legal consequences.

In particular, LRWC notes the standards for treatment of lawyers and human rights defenders articulated in such international instruments as the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1998) and the United Nations¡¯ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990). Articles 16 and 17 of the latter instrument provide:

16. Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; . . .

17. Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

The international community, in which Mongolia plays a vital role, has clearly articulated the moral duty of all nations to protect lawyers and human rights advocates in fulfilling their professional functions. The Government of Mongolia has a clear and pressing duty to translate this into action at the domestic level in Mr. Sanjaasuren¡¯s case. We urge your Excellencies to unconditionally and immediately release Mr. Sanjaasuren.

However, so long as Mr. Sanjaasuren remains in prison, LRWC urges your Excellencies to improve the conditions of his detention. LRWC is aware that after Mr. Sanjaasuren recently granted a newspaper interview from prison, authorities allegedly threatened to move Mr. Sanjaasuren to a more crowded cell with worse conditions. LRWC considers that such threats constitute a violation of the internationally-recognised right to humane treatment while in detention.

Further, a reliable source familiar with Mr. Sanjaasuren¡¯s situation has advised that Mr. Sanjaasuren¡¯s health is imperiled by the conditions of his detention. Mr. Sanjaasuren has a heart condition but is not receiving adequate medical attention in prison. As a result, on several occasions Mr. Sanjaasuren¡¯s heart has slowed to the point of near failure. LRWC respectfully requests that your Excellencies take immediate action to ensure that Mr. Sanjaasuren has access to medical care appropriate to his particular needs and circumstances.

LRWC awaits your response on what actions the Government of Mongolia will take in relation to the matters raised above.