Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 11
Political Influences: 12
Economic Pressures: 11
Total Score: 34

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 64
Religious Groups: Buddhist Lamaist (50 percent), other [including Shamanist and Christian (46 percent), Muslim (4 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Mongol (94.9 percent), Turkic (5 percent), other (0.1 percent)
Capital: Ulaanbaatar

Freedom of speech and of the press are protected by law in Mongolia, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. Censorship of public information is banned under the 1998 Media Law, which also prohibits the government from owning or financing media outlets. The State Secrets Law limits access to government information to a degree, as many archived historical records have been given a classified status. Government officials have at times filed libel suits against media or launched tax audits against publications in the wake of critical articles. Libel charges are hard to defend against, because Mongolian law places the burden on the defendant to prove the truth of the statement at issue. To avoid being sued for libel, many independent publications practice a degree of self-censorship.

The government monitors media content for compliance with antiviolence, antipornography, and antialcohol content restrictions as well as compliance with tax laws. While no direct government censorship exists, journalists complain of indirect forms of censorship such as harassment and intimidation. In preparation for the 2005 presidential elections, the Mongolian Journalists Confederation issued ethical guidelines on election coverage, including the need to provide balanced coverage of the candidates and to refrain from accepting bribes for coverage.

Although independent print media outlets are common and popular in cities, the main source of news in the vast countryside is the state-owned Radio Mongolia. However, state-owned media are generally free of political control. The government is slowly implementing a 1999 law requiring state broadcast media to be transformed into public corporations. In October 2005, the coalition government announced plans to convert Mongol TV and Radio into a public broadcasting entity. Mongolians have access to local, privately owned television stations, English-language broadcasts of the BBC and Voice of America on private FM stations, and, in the capital city of Ulan Bator, foreign television programming via cable and commercial satellite systems. In this country of 2.5 million, only 220,000 people are internet users, a number calculated at less than 10 percent of the population. Owing to widespread poverty in Mongolia, the internet has yet to serve as a significant source of information.

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