Access to justice and reparations for victims of trafficking in the post-conflict period

Baghdad, Iraq (VOM) – In 2018, the Parliament of Kurdistan approved a Trafficking in Persons (TIP) law, now in force in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The law facilitates victim participation in judicial proceedings and acknowledges the victim’s human trafficking experience. From 13 to 15 June 2022, UNODC organized a seminar to ascertain to what extent national stakeholders find the existing legal framework relevant and explore how the framework can be factored into the post-Daesh criminal justice and reparations processes.

UNODC organized the “Access to justice and reparations for victims of trafficking in the post-conflict period seminar” in the framework of the EU-funded Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrant – Asia and the Middle East (GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East).  The event brought together participants from key agencies, including judges, police, state counsel, the Directorate for Yazidi survivors, civil society and United Nations agencies, to discuss the intersections between human trafficking and conflict in greater detail.  It also provided an opportunity to understand the current practice of ensuring access to justice and reparations to Daesh victims, anticipating the positioning of the TIP agenda in the post-Daesh criminal justice, civil and restorative justice processes.
Imad Al-Dulaimi, Deputy Minister for Police Affairs and  Zakia Sayed Salih, Deputy Minister of Social Affairs, opened the seminar by recognizing the link between TIP and crimes committed during conflict situations.

Throughout the seminar, participants acknowledged the overlaps between TIP and atrocity offences (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity) and between TIP and terrorism offences. An expert presentation delivered by the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) highlighted how foreign courts charged Daesh with atrocities and TIP offences committed against the Yazidi people in Iraq.
The event also provided judges from Iraq and the KRI to present complex court cases involving Daesh victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced conscription, who ended up being criminalized by the system. Representatives from Iraqi law enforcement then presented on recent TIP cases involving conflict while UNODC Terrorism Prevention Branch and Justice Sections spoke about their work to assist children and victims of terrorism, interlinking with TIP. UNODC explained that under projects such as STRIVE Juvenile, the office supports partner countries such as Iraq to develop and implement comprehensive national responses to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law.
At the end of the seminar, participants expressed their interest in further exploring the topics discussed. They made several recommendations for improving current practices to address the links between human trafficking and conflict.

The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Asia and the Middle East (GLO.ACT-Asia and the Middle East) is a four-year joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in up to five countries: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), Islamic Republic of Iran (I.R. of Iran), Republic of Iraq (Iraq), Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Pakistan). GLO.ACT-Bangladesh is a parallel initiative also financed by the EU and implemented with IOM.

The project builds on a global community of practice set in motion in GLO.ACT 2015-2019 and assists governmental authorities and civil society organizations in targeted, innovative, and demand-driven interventions: sustaining effective strategy and policy development, legislative review and harmonization, capability development, and regional and trans-regional cooperation. The project also provides direct assistance to victims of human trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and protection mechanisms. The project is fully committed to mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality considerations across all of its activities.

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