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Taking a closer look at the case of J.Amarsanaa

By M.OYUNGEREL

The cancellation of economist D.Jargalsaikhan’s television program on Mongoliin Medee, following his interview with former head of the Constitutional Court J.Amarsanaa, triggered my interest in seeking out the truth behind the varying allegations leading to J.Amarsanaa’s recent dismissal.
D.Jargalsaikhan, commonly known as “Jargal De Facto”, has hosted televised interviews on NTV, Mongolian National Broadcaster (MNB), and Eagle TV for approximately six years. Most recently, his “De Facto” program was being aired on Mongoliin Medee (MM), a relatively new channel which launched on January 11. D.Jargalsaikhan interviewed J.Amarsanaa on February 22, and on the evening of February 23, MM informed him that they could no longer air his show on their channel. It has been reported that MNB, MM’s parent company, did not specify the reason for the cancellation of his show.
D.Jargalsaikhan made an appearance on Mongol TV on February 24 and spoke about the cancellation of his show. “The head of MM, Ts.Munkhtur, said, “We can’t continue our cooperation. The election is being held soon. We can maybe cooperate after the election. But before that, it conflicts with the station’s policy to provide balanced information.’ But I did provide balanced information, and I interviewed [J.Amarsanaa],” said D.Jargalsaikhan. During the Mongol TV interview, the host notified Jargal that MNB posted a job opening on their website for the position of head of MM. It is truly a shame if Ts.Munkhtur lost his job because of D.Jargalsaikhan, because to the eyes of a regular citizen, it looks as if the state doesn’t work to protect all of its citizens, but only a select few.
The Democracy Justice Mongolian Youth Federation (DJMYF) of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party delivered a complaint to the head of MNB, Ts.Oyundari, on February 29. They believe that MNB is not conducting independent operations or respecting the public’s right to be informed, and that it isn’t fulfilling its duties to maintain transparency and to protect the interests of organizations, officials, individuals, and the nation, rather than those of political parties.
The General Secretary of the DJMYF, P.Amar, wrote, “The authorities of MNB cancelling economist D.Jargalsaikhan’s interview hour and not reporting news related to opposition forces and political parties without representatives in Parliament proves that they don’t fulfill those duties.”

Office of the Parliament believes J.Amarsanaa broke the law

Arguments around the Constitutional Court, which possibly led to the cancellation of D.Jargalsaikhan’s show on MM and Ts.Munkhtur’s firing, all started in January, when the Secretary-General of the Office of Parliament sent a letter to the Supreme Court proposing the dismissal of J.Amarsanaa. He claimed that Amarsanaa cited an unapproved law in a ruling, violating the Constitution and the Law on the Policies of Cabinet Session Meetings. Many Cabinet members came to the same conclusion.
Parliament approved the dismissal of J.Amarsanaa on January 27. According to J.Amarsanaa, MPs are using different terms to explain their vote, and those terms are invalid, because using the law in a ruling is different from what he did.
“I discussed an approved law at the request of citizen D.Lamjav. He had concerns that the Law on the Policies of Cabinet Session Meetings, the Law on the Constitutional Court, and a law on resolving arguments in the Constitutional Court violated the Constitution.
“The laws were approved and printed, but they weren’t being enacted yet. They were printed before the President could accept or lay a veto on them. So technically, Parliament violated the law as well, because they weren’t supposed to be printed before they were passed by the President. D.Lamjav and I discussed the issues he had with the laws. There’s nothing illegal about that,” J.Amarsanaa said during his interview with D.Jargalsaikhan.

Conflict concerning a comma

Article 65.4 of the Constitution states “If the head or a member of the Constitutional Court violates the law, Parliament can dismiss them based on proposals from the Constitutional Court, the organization which elected them”.
On January 28, J.Amarsanaa held a press conference arguing that it was illegal for Parliament to vote to dismiss him, since the Law on the Constitutional Court states that only the nine members of the court have the right to submit a request to dismiss a justice. J.Amarsanaa was selected for the Constitutional Court by the Supreme Court. “If the Supreme Court approves the decision, then Parliament can discuss it,” said J.Amarsanaa.
MP Kh.Temuujin, a lawyer and former Minister of Justice, said, “Current Constitutional Court members, who taught me at university, said the comma between ‘the Constitutional Court’ and ‘the organization which elected them’ meant ‘or’. The May 6, 1992, protocol of the Ulsiin Baga Khural [the first democratic and permanent Parliament] meeting noted the opinions of Baga Khural members about the clause on the Constitutional Court. The 22nd page of the protocol says it’s either the Constitutional Court that makes the decision themselves, or the office which elected the member proposes a dismissal. These two are not connected with an ‘and’ conjunction, but an ‘or’ conjuction. Now, it’s inappropriate for the Constitutional Court’s members to say that these two are combined with the phrase ‘and’ just to protect their interests, rather than acting based on facts.”
According to MP Kh.Temuujin, there’s no valid law at the moment that discusses who has the right to submit a request to dismiss the head of the Constitutional Court.

The Supreme Court’s ambiguous response

“The head of the Supreme Court, Ts.Zorigt, sent back a note saying that the organization didn’t have a definite position, and that Parliament has the authority [to dismiss a Constitutional Court justice]. They’re basically saying that they will not interfere with this business, and that Parliament can decide it if they have full authority. Parliament then made a decision to dismiss J.Amarsanaa based on this statement. The Constitution states that Parliament doesn’t have full authority in this case. They’re speaking as if this statement was permission, but they’re just distorting words to make decisions that fit their interests,” said D.Lamjav, a political activist who took part in creating the Mongolian Social Democratic Party and in drafting the Constitution in 1992.
According to J.Amarsanaa, the Supreme Court didn’t even discuss the issue in an official meeting, as legally, the majority of the court’s 25 members had to be present to vote to dismiss him. MP Kh.Temuujin said, “Because the head of the Supreme Court represents the organization in foreign and domestic affairs, he has the full authority to make a decision on behalf of the Supreme Court. And currently, there’s no valid law about how to dismiss the head of the Constitutional Court, so the case will be solved through the Constitution. The Constitution says that we have to ask the Supreme Court, and [the court] gave a vote.” J.Amarsanaa says that this is another way Parliament is distorting the law.

The decision to dismiss J.Amarsanaa

Parliament believed that the Supreme Court approved their request, and 35 out of the 44 Parliament members who attended the irregular parliamentary session on February 19 voted for J.Amarsanaa’s dismissal.
A large number of lawyers and experts believe that the Supreme Court’s message was not a vote to dismiss J.Amarsanaa. If the Supreme Court’s reply can’t be considered a vote, then Parliament dismissed J.Amarsanaa without a decision from the office he was elected by, or from the Constitutional Court’s justices.
Before we jump to conclusions and talk about his dismissal, we have to understand whether J.Amarsanaa really violated the law, or if he was falsely accused. He was dismissed without anyone proving that he was guilty. If what J.Amarsanaa says is true, instead, we should be talking about who sent the approved law to print before it was reviewed by the President.
The public is confused and the majority of lawyers are standing on J.Amarsanaa’s side. It’s essential for J.Amarsanaa to be proven guilty before ordering his dismissal. If his guilt can’t be proven, we can’t even start a discussion about dismissing him, let alone actually dismiss him.
This instance, once again, shows how faulty our Constitution is, and how easily it can be manipulated to suit individual interests. This also shows how laws are enforced in Mongolia, and how the Constitutional Court and Parliament have equal rights under different interpretations of the law.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=18674

Posted by on Mar 2 2016. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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