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Mongolian journalist faces imminent deportation

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an abridged translation of a 22 November 2005 IFJ press release:

IFJ protests threats to deport Mongolian journalist

In a letter to Interior Minister Patrick Dewaele, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today protested the ministry's threat to expel Mongolian journalist Erdenehand Tserensodnom, who has been held, along with her 10-year old son, in a temporary holding centre for foreigners without papers since 3 August 2005.

Tserensodnom fled her native Mongolia fearing for her safety after publishing a series of articles on corruption. The fears proved to be well-founded when a colleague suffered a revenge knife attack which left her disfigured. Tserensodnom arrived in Belgium in 2001 and applied for refugee status, which was refused. She appealed her case to the Council of State, but was arrested on 3 August 2005. On 29 October, she filed an appeal against her arrest. She has now reapplied for both temporary residency and political asylum.

"We have reason to believe Ms. Tserensodnom faces a very real risk if she were to return to Mongolia in the current state of affairs," the IFJ explained it its letter to Dewaele. In fact, defamation and "damage to reputation" are Penal Code offences in Mongolia. Tserensodnom would face two years in prison if a complaint were to be brought under one of these offences. Two other female journalists were recently arrested and jailed for similar offences. Moreover, Tserensodnom is now well-known to both the authorities and the individuals who were the subject of her investigative reports, increasing the risk she would face in the case of a forced repatriation.

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