Iraq News
Human Rights

Iraq extends hand to victims of human trafficking

By Khalid al-Taie

Yazidi women and children wait to receive aid in a photo published May 29th, 2016. [Photo courtesy of the Shankal Association for Orphans' Aid Facebook page]

Yazidi women and children wait to receive aid in a photo published May 29th, 2016. [Photo courtesy of the Shankal Association for Orphans' Aid Facebook page]

The Iraqi government has been working to provide care and assistance to victims of human trafficking, including Yazidi women and children abducted, enslaved and sold by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

On September 6th, the government approved a project to care for these people, pursuant to Law No. 28 of 2012, which calls for new measures to address the crime of human trafficking and care for its victims.

A joint government committee, made up of representatives from the ministries of labour, interior and health and the High Commission for Human Rights, has been tasked with following up on the project's implementation.

"Every [government] institution had to provide services to protect and care for individuals who have been victims of human trafficking," said Abeer Jalabi, head of the Ministry of Labour's Women and Child Welfare Authority.

The authority is responsible for "providing social services to these oppressed people, and the most important thing is to create a safe haven for them and offer them comprehensive care", she told Diyaruna.

Shelter to open in Baghdad

The Ministry of Labour plans to open its first shelter in Iraq for victims of trafficking who have no relatives to take them in, Jalabi said.

"The shelter will open very soon in Baghdad," she said. "This is the first step towards opening similar shelters in all provinces, where residents will enjoy a safe environment and government support and attention."

There are no official statistics on the number of victims of human trafficking.

But security forces found "a large number of women and children in Mosul after its liberation, who confirmed that ISIS militants were trading in them", she said, adding that "many more are still missing".

"We also have recorded cases of trafficking by gangs who specialise in committing such crimes," she added.

"The problem is serious," she said, calling on all governmental and non-governmental bodies to contain the problem and provide assistance to victims.

More effective solutions needed

Iraqi MP Ashwaq al-Jaf of the parliamentary human rights committee stressed the need to find effective solutions to the problem, which she described as one of the biggest challenges the government faces in the next stage.

She called for a review of Law No. 28 of 2012, so it can be more effective in curbing human trafficking.

She also asked that additional effort be taken to apprehend and prosecute those involved in human trafficking, so they can be brought to justice.

Every effort must be made to redress the rights of victims of human trafficking and help them overcome their experience and start a new life, she added.

ISIS committed many atrocities against Yazidi women and children that included buying and selling them, said Ninawa provincial council human rights committee chairman Ghazwan Hamed.

Many captives now have been released, he told Diyaruna, adding that "there are locations and camps in the city of Mosul and the town of Sheikhan that receive and shelter those victims".

Victims of human trafficking are being cared for by the ministries of labour and migration, he said, but they still need more support to improve their lives.

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