U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Syria

Syria (Tier 3)

Syria is a destination country for women from South and Southeast Asia and Africa for domestic servitude and from Eastern Europe and Iraq for 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 exploitation and involuntary servitude including long hours, non-payment of wages, withholding of passports and other restrictions on movement, and physical and sexual abuse. Similarly, Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarussian women recruited for work in Syria as cabaret dancers are not permitted to leave their work premises without permission and have their passports withheld – indicators of involuntary servitude. In addition, of the 450,000 Iraqis in Syria, some of the women and children are reportedly forced into sexual exploitation.

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. Syria has done little to address its trafficking in persons problem. It has no anti-trafficking policy, programs, or coordinator, but has shown some political will to tackle the issue. With IOM's assistance, Syria conducted a workshop to raise awareness of the trafficking problem and formed a committee to combat trafficking. Nonetheless, this committee has never met. The government also reported no trafficking prosecutions during the year. The government failed to provide protection for trafficking victims, and even incarcerated child victims of sex trafficking in detention centers. Syria should prosecute more traffickers; improve protection for victims by building a shelter; providing medical, psychological, and legal aid; and increase public awareness of trafficking.


Syria failed to take any significant steps to improve its prosecution record over the year. In September 2005, Syria decreed the formation of a committee to draft a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and a set of rules to regulate manpower agencies. This committee, however, has yet to meet and there has been no progress on drafting a new law or regulations. Syria also did not report any prosecutions of trafficking offenses and failed to train law enforcement officials in trafficking investigation and prosecution techniques. In addition, although manpower agencies are illegal in Syria, the government took no steps to shut them down or otherwise regulate them to ensure that they do not facilitate the trafficking of foreign workers. The government should enact a comprehensive trafficking law or utilize existing provisions in its criminal code to prosecute sex traffickers and traffickers of forced labor. Law enforcement training and better regulation of manpower agencies would also help address trafficking problems in Syria.


During the year, the Government of Syria took insignificant steps to improve protection of trafficking victims. Syria failed to financially support or make available protection services such as a shelter or legal aid to trafficking victims. Minors caught in sexual exploitation are reportedly housed in juvenile detention facilities. The government should cease detaining child trafficking victims and increase protection for all victims.


Syria took minimal steps in preventing trafficking over the year. Syria continues to monitor its borders closely for signs of smuggling and trafficking, though it did not detect one case of trafficking over the last year. The government should consider formulating a broad public awareness campaign to increase awareness of trafficking in persons.


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