Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Special Cases - Iraq

Iraq remained in political transition for a sixth consecutive year and therefore is not ranked in this Report. The U.S. Government anticipates that the Government of Iraq's efforts to combat trafficking in persons in Iraq can be assessed in next year's Report.

Scope and Magnitude. Iraq is a source and destination country for men and women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Iraqi children are trafficked within the country and abroad for commercial sexual exploitation; criminal gangs may have targeted young boys, and staff of private orphanages may have trafficked young girls for forced prostitution. Iraqi women are trafficked within Iraq, as well as to Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Iran for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Iraq is also a destination for men and women trafficked from Georgia, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, and Sri Lanka for involuntary servitude as construction workers, cleaners, and handymen. Women from the Philippines and Indonesia are trafficked into the Kurdish territory for involuntary servitude as domestic servants. Some of these workers are offered fraudulent jobs in Kuwait or Jordan, but are then tricked or forced into involuntary servitude in Iraq instead; others go to Iraq voluntarily, but are still subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude after arrival. Although the governments of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the Philippines have official bans prohibiting their nationals from working in Iraq, workers from these countries are coerced into positions in Iraq with threats of abandonment in Kuwait or Jordan, starvation, or force.

Iraq did not take any meaningful action to address trafficking in persons over the reporting period. Although it has a functioning judiciary, the government neither prosecuted any trafficking cases this year nor convicted any traffickers. Furthermore, the government offers no protection services to victims of trafficking, reported no efforts to prevent trafficking in persons, and does not acknowledge trafficking to be a problem in the country.

Recommendations for Iraq: Significantly increase criminal investigations of internal and transnational trafficking for both commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. The government should also provide victims of trafficking with protection services, and should ensure that they are not detained, punished, or treated as criminals for acts committed as a result of being trafficked.

Government Efforts. The Government of Iraq does not prohibit all forms of trafficking, but criminalizes the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation through Article 399 of its penal code. This statute prescribes penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent to deter, but are not commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. It is particularly important that Iraq adopt legislative reforms that criminalize all forms of trafficking, train its law enforcement and judicial officers; take measures to curb the complicity of public officials in the trafficking of Iraqi women, begin prosecuting trafficking offenses under existing statutes, and sentence those convicted to sufficiently stringent prison terms.

The Iraqi government did not provide any protection services to victims of trafficking during the reporting period. The government did not operate shelters for trafficking victims, nor offer legal, medical, nor psychological services. Iraq continued to lack formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as women arrested for prostitution. As a result, trafficking victims were sometimes jailed for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. The government provided no assistance to Iraqi victims repatriated from abroad, and some were criminally punished; for example, some victims who were trafficked abroad using false documents were arrested and prosecuted upon their return to Iraq. Iraq neither encouraged victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers, nor offered foreign victims legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution.

The Government of Iraq did not take measures to prevent trafficking in persons this reporting period, despite reports of a growing trafficking problem among women and foreign nationals in the country for labor. The government does not sponsor any anti-trafficking campaigns, and did not monitor immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. Iraq has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


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