Cablegate: Baghdad Trafficking in Persons Responses
DE RUEHGB #0590/01 0600934
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290934Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5963
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0370
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 1479
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0004
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0245
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0068
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0039
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0023
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT 0339
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI 0017
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
UNCLAS BAGHDAD 000590
STATE FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, AND NEA/RA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB IZ
SUBJECT: BAGHDAD TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS RESPONSES
REF: STATE 2731
1. (U) This is post's summary of trafficking in persons
activities for the period April 2007-April 2008. Little
progress has been noted since the previous report, and post
strongly recommends that Iraq continue to be treated as a
special case during this rating period. The government of
Iraq continues to increase its capacity to focus on difficult
legislation and to strengthen its ministerial institutions,
but insurgency, sectarian violence, and an imperfect ability
to establish rule of law hinder the government's ability to
address trafficking in persons. The Council of
Representatives did manage to demonstrate increased capacity
to pass contentious legislation; the laws, however, focused
exclusively on efforts towards national reconciliation and
basic governmental function.
2. (SBU) Post would like to stress that there has been no
sustained or in-depth reporting by any source on the issue of
trafficking in persons in Iraq, and we have no way to verify
information or estimates of trafficking. Through the
Provincial Reconstruction Teams throughout the country we
were able to query local and regional governments, and local
organizations. However, we could not idependently verify the
accounts we received and the reports were insufficient to
enable us to draw accurate conclusions or identify trends.
3. (SBU) The responses in this paragraph correspond with
those questions in reftel paragraph 27.
(A) Iraq may have been both an origin and destination country
for international trafficking. There were no official
statistics and few non-governmental organizations monitored
or reported on TIP activities. According to our limited
sources, children may have been trafficked by staff of
private orphanages. Young girls may have been trafficked to
the Gulf States. Women were most often trafficked within
Iraq, but also to the Levant (Jordan and Syria) and, in fewer
cases, to the Gulf, including Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.
Non-Iraqi males were reportedly brought from Georgia, India,
Pakistan, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka,in some cases under the
guise of a work contract in Kuwait or Jordan, or tricked into
believing their travel to the Kurdish regions of Iraq was not
actually a trip to Iraq.
(B) Little has changed since the previous report; it was
still difficult to estimate the scope of the trafficking
problem in Iraq. GOI and local officials deny that
trafficking exists, or possess little understanding of the
concern. Journalists wrote anecdotal pieces based on
single-source interviews that could not be verified or were
later proven false. The active conflict and limited economic
opportunities have created a large pool of vulnerable
individuals who could become victims. We do not have solid
evidence that trafficking incidents occurred in Iraq; we
believe, however, that contrary to the opinion of the GOI,
there were instances of human trafficking. We do not believe
the scope of this trafficking was great, but we have no
ability to determine the degree to which it happened.
Although there was some political will to address
trafficking, the security situation consumed the majority of
GOI resources and attention. Various ministries, such as the
Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of State for
Women's Affairs expressed interest in running campaigns to
address issues such as forced prostitution and marriage, but
neither had the expertise or budget to run such programs.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) did take a few steps
to address labor trafficking within its regional borders
during the reporting period after foreign and domestic
journalists published an account of Indonesian workers who
had been tricked into fraudulant contracts. These included a
greater oversight of the contracts in which the companies of
the region engaged and greater rights for those who were
trafficked to bring their employer to court.
We continue to know very little about the conditions into
which the victims were trafficked. According to our limited
sources, both male and female and juvenile and adult
populations may have been targeted by traffickers. Young
female orphans may have been forced into temporary marriages
with orphanage staff for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
There were also reports of women being trafficked from
smaller towns in Kurdistan to the larger cities for the
purpose of forced prostitution, and of women being trafficked
from areas of Baghdad subject to extreme poverty. Women
reported being shamed into prostitution by being told they
could not return home to their families because they will be
harmed by male relatives.
(C) There was no GOI agency designated as the lead on
anti-trafficking. The Ministries of Interior, Labor and
Social Affairs, Human Rights, and Women were the primary
agencies that had a role in anti-trafficking efforts.
(D) The government had extremely limited ability to fully
enforce the law anywhere in the country, making efforts to
address the problem of human trafficking extremely difficult.
Many sources claim that government corruption was extremely
high. Funding for police and ministries was inadequate to
reach beyond basic function; the inability to execute
significant portions of ministerial budgets made any efforts
less effective. While the GOI did not lack the financial
assets to assist victims, it neither saw trafficking as a
high priority nor did it effectively manage other programs
focusing on human rights and social affairs.
(E) The government had no method or ability to systematically
monitor anti-trafficking efforts. There was no coordination
mechanism between ministries, or between the GOI and
regional/international organizations. There has never been a
government assessment of anti-trafficking efforts, likely
because there are limited efforts underway.
4. (SBU) The responses in this paragraph correspond with
those questions in reftel paragraph 28.
(A) Article 37(3) of the Iraqi Constitution prohibits "forced
labor, slavery, slave trade, trafficking in women or
children, and sex trade." The law is not specific in its
application to internal or external forms of trafficking.
Trafficking is not directly addressed in the 1969 Iraqi Penal
Code, however there are at least two articles that could be
applied in certain circumstances. Article 399 of the Penal
Code punishes "any person who incites a boy or girl under the
age of 18 to indulge in fornication or resort to prostitution
as a profession or assists him or her to do so."
Articles 421, 422, and 423 of the Penal Code prohibit
unlawful seizure, kidnapping, and detention. Article 425
punishes "any person who provides a location for unlawful
detention or imprisonment while being aware of the fact."
Although Article 320 of the Penal Code punishes "any public
official or agent (...) who employs slave labor," the law was
intended to punish the misuse of public funds by government
officials. It was not meant as prevention or protection
against labor trafficking and likely could not be used as
To the best of our knowledge, no trafficking cases were tried
under any law during the reporting period.
(B) Article 399 of the Penal Code prescribes a prison
sentence not to exceed ten years for "Incitement to
Prostitution and Fornication" when the victim is under the
age of 18. Article 393 lists aggravating factors, such as
the victim's age, the number of perpetrators, the victim's
virginity, the relationship between the offender and the
victim, and whether the victim died, became pregnant, or
contracted a sexually transmitted disease as a result of the
act. If such factors exist, it appears that the court has
the authority to increase the sentence.
Although not specific to trafficking for sexual exploitation,
Articles 421, 422, and 423, which cover unlawful seizure,
kidnapping, and detention) could have implications for
traffickers. Sentences called for in these articles vary
depending on the age and gender of the victim, but generally
range between a maximum of 10-15 years. Aggravating
circumstances, such as deception, can increase the sentence,
and any case involving sexual intercourse with the victim can
result in life imprisonment or death. Article 425 calls for
a period of imprisonment not to exceed seven years for anyone
who provides a location for unlawful detention.
(C) Article 320 of the Penal Code calls for a prison sentence
not to exceed 10 years for the crime of involuntary
servitude. However, this crime falls under the category of
embezzlement and is unlikely to be effective against labor
traffickers. There are no laws that cover labor recruiters
or labor agents.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) ordered a few
companies to cease activities in response to allegations of
labor trafficking of Filipino workers. The KRG also forced
all Kurdish companies to have direct contracts with the
countries from which foreign workers come. And the KRG has
ordered that foreign laborers can contest their salary within
the court system.
(D) Rape is prohibited by Article 393 of the Penal Code; its
penalty is life imprisonment or a period determined by the
Iraqi court. This penalty is stricter than that for those
who commit sexual exploitation.
(E) The act of prostitution is criminal in Iraq. Brothel
owners can be prosecuted under Article 425 in the Iraqi penal
code under certain circumstances. Pimps can be prosecuted
under Article 399. There are no laws prohibiting
(F) The GOI did not prosecute any cases against human
(G) The GOI did not provide any specialized training for
government officials to increase their ability to recognize,
investigate, or prosecute instances of trafficking.
(H) The GOI did not cooperate with other governments in the
investigation and trafficking of trafficking cases.
(I) The government did not extradite any persons charged with
trafficking in other countries. The government is prohibited
from extraditing Iraqi citizens by Article 21(1) of the
(J) There was no substantiated evidence of government
involvement in or tolerance of TIP.
(K) Due to the response in (J), this question is not
(L) This question does not apply to the TIP report for Iraq.
(M) Iraq continued to attract little tourism. Religious
pilgrimages continued to be the major portion of tourism.
There were no reports of sex tourism within Iraq.
5. (SBU) The responses in this paragraph correspond with
those questions in reftel paragraph 29.
(A) The GOI did not assist foreign victims of trafficking by
providing permanent residency status or other relief from
(B) The GOI did not have victim care facilities which are
accessible to trafficking victims. The country did not have
specialized facilities dedicated to helping victims of
trafficking. The GOI did not offer legal, medical, or
psychological services to victims.
(C) The GOI did not provide funding or other forms of support
to foreign or domestic NGOs or international organizations
for services to trafficking victims.
(D) There was no system for law enforcement or social
services personnel to identify trafficking victims or to
refer them to protective custody.
(E) This question does not apply to the TIP report for Iraq.
(F) Post has no knowledge of the GOI prosecuting any cases
against human trafficking offenders. A few NGOs alleged that
the arrest of 90 women in the Kurdish region indicated
trafficking from small towns. The KRG has not yet arrested
anyone for pimping.
(G) The GOI does not encourage victims to assist in the
investigation or prosecution of trafficking. There was no
victims' restitution program.
(H) The government did not provide protection for victims.
The government does not provide shelter, housing benefits, or
other resources to victims in rebuilding their lives. Minors
were placed in women's or juvenile prisons.
(I) The government did not provide any specialized training
for government officials to identify trafficking victims,
whether adult or juvenile. It does not provide training on
protections and assistance to its embassies and consulates in
foreign countries that are destination or transit countries.
It does not urge those embassies and consulates to develop
ongoing relationships with NGOs and IOs that serve trafficked
(J) The GOI did not provide assistance to repatriated
nationals who have been victims of trafficking.
(K) A few non-governmental organizations assisted trafficked
victims and do not wish to be publicly identified for fear of
The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq and the Asuda
Organization for Combating Violence Against Women provided
some assistance to trafficking victims. They continued to
provide shelters and some training and rehabilitation
programs. Neither was supported financially by the GOI and
neither had a relationship with local authorities.
American NGO Heartland Alliance provided specialized training
for health care workers to deal with female victims of
violence. Heartland also continued to monitor trafficking in
the North of Iraq - Mosul, Kirkuk, and Erbil. It was funded
by the USG and private donors, and receives no financial or
material support from the GOI. Mercy Corps also has provided
limited training to ministerial workers in southern Iraq.
The International Organization for Migration also closely
monitored reports of trafficking within Iraq. Though they
are based out of Amman, Jordan, their local staff works
within Iraq to document the scope of trafficking victims.
The IOM has also assisted third country nationals who had
been trafficked to Iraq by returning them to their country of
6. (SBU) The responses in this paragraph correspond with
those questions in reftel paragraph 30.
(A) The GOI was unaware of the existence or scope of the TIP
problem within Iraq. Therefore, it does not acknowledge that
TIP is a problem. Local governments have repeatedly insisted
that trafficking is not a problem within their jurisdiction.
(B) There were no government-run anti-trafficking campaigns
or information disseminated by the GOI. Though the Ministry
of Human Rights and the Ministry of State for Women's Affairs
have both expressed interest in running such a campaign,
neither has done so due to budgetary constraints and a lack
of cooperation within the GOI.
(C) There was no formal relationship between GOI officials
and organizations within the civil society community on TIP
(D) There was no formal monitoring of immigration or
emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. A
significant level of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and
refugees moving within Iraq and across its borders made this
a significantly difficult task. Law enforcement officials
did not screen for victims of trafficking. The borders of
Iraq remained generally unsecured, due to understaffing and
limited patrol outside of border entry points.
(E) There was no mechanism for cooperation or coordination
between agencies within the GOI. There was no working group
or task force that focuses on TIP issues. The Commission on
Public Integrity was tasked with investigating cases of
(F) The GOI does not have a national plan of action to
(G) The GOI has not taken any significant measures to create
an awareness program that educates clients of the sex trade
or potential sex trafficking victims nor one that targets
those who create the demand for the sex trade.
(H) This question does not apply to the TIP report for Iraq.
(I) This question does not apply to the TIP report for Iraq.
7. (SBU) Post's TIP Officer is Corey Gonzalez. His telephone
number is 914-822-6832 and his email address is
8. (SBU) Poloff (FS-04) spent 32 hours preparing this report.