Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Syria

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Syria, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3dcc.html [accessed 19 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Syria (Tier 3)

Syria is a destination country for women from South and Southeast Asia and Africa trafficked for the purpose of domestic servitude, and from Eastern Europe and Iraq for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone are recruited for work in Syria as domestic servants, but some face conditions of involuntary servitude, including long hours, non-payment of wages, withholding of passports and other restrictions on movement, and physical or sexual abuse. Similarly, Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian women recruited for work in Syria as cabaret dancers are not permitted to leave their work premises without permission, and they have their passports withheld – indicators of involuntary servitude; some of these women may also be forced into prostitution. Women and children in the Iraqi refugee community in Syria are reportedly forced into commercial sexual exploitation. One anecdotal report suggested that Syria may also be a transit country for Iraqi women and girls trafficked to Kuwait, the U. A. E. , and Lebanon for forced prostitution.

The Government of Syria does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so.

Although the government began drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, Syria reported no law enforcement efforts to punish trafficking offenses this year. In addition, the government did not offer protection services to victims of trafficking, and may have arrested, prosecuted, or deported some victims for prostitution or immigration violations. Syria should prosecute and punish more traffickers; improve protection for victims by providing shelter, medical, and psychological services; and cease the detention and deportation of victims.

Prosecution

Syria made negligible progress in punishing trafficking crimes this year. Syria does not specifically prohibit any form of trafficking in persons, but can use statutes against kidnapping and sexual assault to prosecute some trafficking cases. In November, the government issued Decree 81 that regulates recruitment agencies bringing domestic workers into the country. Though this decree sets guidelines for conditions of domestic workers and requires agencies to have a license to operate, penalties for violation, including imprisonment for an unspecified length of time or fines of only $2 or both, are not sufficiently stringent to deter the offense of forced labor. Furthermore, Syria did not report any investigations, arrests, prosecutions, or convictions of trafficking offenses this year. There was an anecdotal report that the government uncovered one case of corruption within the Ministry of Interior's Immigration Department and that this resulted in the firing of some high-level immigration officials. If true, it is not known whether this led to prosecutions for complicity in trafficking crimes. The government should follow through on steps to enact a comprehensive anti-trafficking law that criminalizes all forms of trafficking, and assigns penalties both sufficiently stringent to deter the offense and reflective of the heinous nature of the crime.

Protection

During the year, the Syrian government made no progress in protecting trafficking victims. Syria failed to provide protection services such as shelter, medical or psychological assistance for victims, or financially or materially support organizations that do. The government continues to lack a formal victim identification procedure to identify potential trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as illegal migrants or women arrested for prostitution. As a result, victims may be arrested, prosecuted, or deported for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. Child victims of commercial sexual exploitation are housed in juvenile detention facilities. Syria does not actively encourage victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers, and does not provide victims with legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution.

Prevention

Syria took minimal steps in preventing trafficking over the year. Syria's counter-trafficking committee met at least twice this year to draft a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Nonetheless, the government did not draft a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons or conduct any public awareness campaigns to educate employers and workers on the rights of domestic workers. Syria has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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