On February 23rd the Iraqi Council of Representatives passed a law to combat trafficking in human beings. It includes the establishment of coordination mechanisms for civil society, support to different ministries on victim of trafficking assistence and support to a proposed Higher Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.
- This legislation is crucial and has been long anticipated in its coming. In order to assist the vast number of displaced and vulnerable populations in Iraq, as well as the thousands of labour migrants in the country, who are all at risk of being trafficked, the legal grounds for protection from abuse is absolutely necessary, says Michael Pillinger, Chief of the IOM Iraq mission.
Processed by international working group
IOM’s (International Organization for Migration) mission in Iraq has been working with the law since 2008, and in 2011 they founded a Trafficking in Persons Working Group together with the US Embassy in Baghdad. The Working Group gathers representatives from the UN Country Team, NGO’s, universities, interested embassies and Iraqi ministries, to promote the legislative process and, at the next level, assist with its implementation.
Difficult to prosecute
Before this law the legal instrument to use was the Iraqi Penal Code No. 111 from 1969 that included trafficking in women and children as well as so called white slave trade. But without a specialized law it has been difficult for prosecutors to define crimes as trafficking in persons and therefore pepetrators have been able to escape punishment. The absence of a clear legal framework has also made it hard for civil society to support the victims and for the state to work with prevention and protection.
With the passage of the law Iraq became the 13th Middle Eastern country to institute counter-trafficking in persons legislation, thereby joining Syria, the UAE, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Lebanon.
Visit the Protection Project to read different international anti-trafficking legislation.