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Mongolia|life|December 5, 2015 / 11:56 AM
Death penalty to be abolished in Mongolia

AKIPRESS.COM - DeathPenalty-arrest-court-prison Mongolia's lawmakers voted in the new Criminal Code that abolishes the death penalty for all crimes. It will take effect from September 2016, reports Amnesty International.

Amnesty Mongolia has been campaigning to abolish the death penalty in Mongolia since their office was established in 1994.

"It has been a long and difficult road to finally convince the Mongolian authorities to abolish this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," says the message.

The common arguments for death penalty were that it is needed to deter serious crimes, or that murderers deserve the death penalty, particularly if the victims are children.

Over the years, Amnesty Mongolia has explored a variety of ways to raise awareness among the public and engage the authorities in dialogue. Since 2006, every year on 10 December they've marked the World Day Against the Death Penalty. For the past three years they have celebrated Cities for Life Day on 30 November, to commemorate the first abolition of the death penalty by a European country in 1786.

They also organised art exhibitions, film discussions, given talks to law school students, gone on speaking tours with American families of murder victims who opposed the death penalty, met legislators.

Amnesty Mongolia's campaign for Erdene-Ochir left an indelible impression. He is a Mongolian who was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1995. His death sentence was upheld three times by three different courts, before he was found innocent and released in 2002. His case illustrated a core concern in any argument for abolition – the risk of executing an innocent person.

Over the seven years it took for the courts to overturn Erdene-Ochir’s conviction, Amnesty Mongolia witnessed the tide of public opinion turn, from support for his death sentence at the start, to the very opposite by the end. Support for the death penalty has waned further since.

A survey conducted in 2011 by a research arm of the Mongolian government in collaboration with a non-profit, the Association to Protect the Right to Life, showed a majority of Mongolians thought the death penalty should be abolished as it is "irrevocable to execute innocent people."

Abolition of the death penalty in Mongolia is a historic decision. It required significant political will on the part of the Mongolian authorities to push ahead. Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj’s announcement in 2010 of a freeze on executions was the first positive step towards abolition in many years.

In the 1950s, Mongolia abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes like murder but reinstated it after just 10 months in response to public demand.

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