Amnesty International Mongolia: fair trial concerns including access to lawyers and family members, and denial of medical care
Amnesty International Mongolia calls on the government to ensure that B.Bulgan, who has been detained since 13 November 2015, is treated in line with international human rights standards, including with respect to her rights of access to lawyers, contact with family members, adequate medical care, and the right to a fair trial.
ICCPR, Article 9(2)
“Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.”
Right to a public hearing and fair trial concerns
Family members have informed Amnesty International Mongolia that B. Bulgan’s case, including what charges she is facing, is being treated as a secret. Under international human rights law except in prescribed and narrowly defined circumstances, such as cases involving children, court hearings and judgments in criminal cases must be public. The right to a public hearing is important to safeguard the rights of the accused. This right also embodies and protects the public’s right to know and monitor how justice is administered and what decisions are reached by the judicial system. Exceptional circumstances must not be invoked as a justification for deviating from fundamental principles of the right to fair trial. State secrets status must not be used as a mechanism for escaping accountability or a justification for failing to meet international human rights standards.
Access to medical care
B. Bulgan’s family members are concerned that B. Bulgan is being denied access to medical treatment. B. Bulgan is suffering from more than one chronic health condition which her family say will get worse if she is not granted access to medical treatment and if she continues to be detained in a facility that lacks adequate heating. Family members have told Amnesty International Mongolia that relevant state officials have rejected her lawyers’ calls to provide B. Bulgan with access to medical care. States are obliged to ensure medical care for those in custody, and the UN Human Rights Committee has stated that all detainees should be afforded prompt and regular access to doctors. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners provide that a prisoner under arrest or awaiting trial shall be allowed to be visited and treated by his/her own doctor.
Access to Lawyers:
B.Bulgan’s family have told Amnesty International Mongolia that her lawyers are being denied access to meet her. She has been detained since 13 November 2015. Amnesty International Mongolia understands that an extension of B.Bulgan’s detention was authorised by a judicial authority two times; on 20 November 2015 and again on 11 January 2016. Her family have also said that during these 4 months her lawyers sent requests to meet her several times but they have been allowed to visit only once and have attended two interviews between B.Bulgan and the authorities. Other requests to meet her have been rejected for reasons that are unclear.
International human rights standards stipulate that anyone facing a criminal charge is entitled to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence and to communicate with counsel of their own choosing. According to the Body of Principles, Principle 18(1) “A detained or imprisoned person shall be entitled to communicate and consult with his legal counsel.”
ICCPR, Article 9(4)
Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
Access to Family:
International human rights standards also recognise that detainees have the right to be visited by and communicate with family subject only to such restrictions as are necessary in the interests of the administration of justice and the good order of the institution. Even in most exceptional cases such contact may not be denied for more than a matter of days.
Amnesty International understands that family members of B.Bulgan have been permitted to visit her only once since she was detained. One family member noted that the visit was granted only after they had gone to the media. On arrival the detention centre authorities refused to allow family members to bring food and books for B. Bulgan. Without exact grounds, such prohibitions on contact with family for such an extended period are in violation of international human rights standards.
Detention centre conditions
Family members have raised concerns that B.Bulgan is being exposed to 24 hour lighting(without natural light) and that the detention centre is inadequately heated and that these conditions could make her health worse.
Every person deprived of liberty has the right to be held in conditions that are consistent with human dignity.
All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners shall meet all requirements of health, lighting and ventilation, heating, adequate food and hygiene.
Amnesty International Mongolia calls on the government of Mongolia to:
• Respect the right of B.Bulgan and all other individuals being held in detention, including pre-trial facilities to receive visits from and to communicate with lawyers of their own choosing, and family members, of a frequency and in conditions of privacy that are in line with international standards.
• Ensure that all individuals being held in detention, including pre-trial facilities, have adequate access to qualified health professions to provide health care in line with medical ethics, including principles of confidentiality, autonomy and informed consent.
• Ensure that family members of all individuals being held in detention, including pre-trial facilities, are able to visit them on a regular basis, and have access to any and all information regarding their health for which their consent is given or may be presumed.
• Ensure that all those detained including pre-trial facilities are given an opportunity to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court and to be released if the government is unable promptly to establish that the detention is lawful; and ensure respect for the general right of persons charged with criminal offences to be released pending trial (subject to conditions if necessary) unless an independent judicial authority finds the state to have justified the detention on such grounds as a likelihood that the accused would abscond or destroy evidence, influence witnesses, or flee from the jurisdiction.