O.Altangerel: A unified prison will save 2.6 billion MNT in maintenance costs


The following is an interview with the Head of the Department of Policy of the Ministry of Justice, O.Altangerel about the new structural changes in police departments and the unified prison in Bayanzurkh.

-Police forces were expecting “everything to change” on  January 1. Not long has passed since then. What kind of structural alterations have been made so far?

-The Law on Criminal Detention went into effect on January 1. Due to adjustments in staff structure and obligations, the right to approve police structure was given to the Minister of Justice by the government in accordance with the law. We’ve already adjusted to the new structure and started to work accordingly. There were discussions about reducing salaries instead of issuing rank allowances. It’s stated in the law that there will not be any deductions  in police officers’ wages. Therefore, no alterations will be made.

We moderated the number of superiors to create a pyramid shaped structure that will focus on protecting the rights of citizens, and providing services. The General Police Department will make official announcements after the restructuring is complete.

-Were rank allowances reduced from salaries of officers, accountants and support staff, who don’t participate in core police functions?

-All active officers should receive their full pay, including rank allowances. If there are any complaints in relation to this matter, we are obliged to make investigations. However, demoted administrative workers will no longer receive rank allowances. Salaries will vary based on whether their working environment involves severe weather conditions or presents hazards to personal health and safety. This policy will be valid for everyone enforcing the law, not just for police officers.

-It hasn’t been long since the Takhar Department was established. Many agree that the department is very suitable for current times but most cannot get used to the name.

-The newly established agency serves many important duties such as protecting suspects in court, and coercing and investigating suspects who obstruct the court. This agency carries huge responsibilities for protecting witnesses and plaintiffs since the previous establishments weren’t effective, as many know. The name Takhar is not strange to those in law enforcement. There are many popular misconceptions about the role of Takhar because of movies like Tungalag Tamir. These notions will fade away as the public recognizes the importance of their duty.

-How many detention centers are there in Mongolia? Geographically, every province seems to have a prison, and there are many prisons around the city border.

-In total, there are 25 prisons in Mongolia. There’s only one high security prison and the rest are all medium or low security. Mongolia has around 7,000 prisoners. Depending on the prison’s routines and policy, some prisons have higher workloads which causes a lot of issues. Previously, there was the Amnesty Law which served as a way to decrease prison populations, which illustrates the unsound aspects of the criminal legal system. And yes, you are right about prisons being scattered throughout the country.

-From time to time, the Minister of Justice mentions the need to improve prison conditions and is criticized for not building more schools and hospitals instead.  When will the unified prison in Bayanzurkh District be built?

-Whenever we talk about building prisons, we receive criticism from the public as the nation has many other issues such as a lack of kindergartens and schools. These criticisms come from people who don’t understand the circumstances or the nature of the problem.  If the related ministries and organizations don’t talk about the necessary prison reforms for a country that is a member of numerous international human rights conventions, then who will?

We are going to centralize all prisons in the city in the Bayanzurkh District, which has numerous prospects and advantages. For instance, 2.6 billion MNT will be saved on food transportation expenses, heating, other necessities, and salaries for guards. This estimation is not surprising since the government is practically nurturing high security prisoners, as they aren’t allowed out of their cells or able to work.

With the unified prison, these people will be able to work and pay back their expenses owed to the government. Prisoners can pay for not only the damages they caused but also social insurance payment. There are many detainees associated with crimes that they did unintentionally due to a lack of caution, and it is stressful for both prisoners and their families if they are separated from society.

While on the subject, we cannot omit guards and supervisors working in prisons. They also face many hardships while working in remote places 150 km away from the nearest settlement. For instance, their wives also have to work in prisons if they want to stay together, their children are forced to stay with relatives to study, they cannot develop or educate themselves, and sometimes, even their children grow up within a prison.

The guards have been constantly inquiring about the new prison after its plans were announced.

-What will be the prison’s security level be, and how many detainees will it house?

-Around 10 prisons will be consolidated in Ulaanbaatar. We are still discussing what its security level should be. A draft Criminal Law has been submitted. In connection with this, a law on criminal punishment and rehabilitation will be drafted. Our main policy is to detain as few people as possible by subjecting other methods of penalty. The new prison will have open and closed sections.

-What sort of work will prisoners be doing? How will you utilize old prisons?

-A construction material plant, and textiles and tailoring factory will be built in the unified prison. Prisoners in Germany make uniforms for law enforcement and there is no reason not to do the same thing here. A sports complex for prison staff and detainees, offices for the staff, cells and a hospital will be built in the new prison.

When a detainee falls ill, we have to transport them from far away prisons to a hospital in Zaisan. Even if they are convicted, their human rights have to be protected also. All of these issues will be resolved when we have the unified prison. As for the old facilities, other law enforcement agencies will be able to use them.

-Will high security prisoners stay in the closed section and the rest in the open prison?

-The Law on Criminal Incarceration is in process and the detainees in closed systems will be specified. We cannot put high security prisoners straight into the closed section. In the open prison section, we are developing a law that will give prisoners the opportunity to work outside the prison and visit their homes in special cases. On the other hand, there are many severe punishments for breaking open prison rules.

-It was said that Mongolia will have only three prisons. When centralizing prisons, where will a juvenile detention facility be located?

-There are plans to build three unified prisons. There will no longer be a juvenile detention facility in Mongolia. Instead, a special closed school will be established.


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Posted by on Jan 28 2014. Filed under Топ мэдээ. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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