Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
10BAGHDAD480
2010-02-23 11:08:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

TIP IN IRAQ: DIVISION AND MOMENTUM

Tags:  TIP DRL NEA RA KTIP KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #0480/01 0541108
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231108Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6778
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000480 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/27/2018
TAGS: TIP DRL NEA RA KTIP KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB
SUBJECT: TIP IN IRAQ: DIVISION AND MOMENTUM

Classified By: Political Counselor Yuri Kim for reason 1.4 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000480

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/27/2018
TAGS: TIP DRL NEA RA KTIP KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB
SUBJECT: TIP IN IRAQ: DIVISION AND MOMENTUM

Classified By: Political Counselor Yuri Kim for reason 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (C) Summary: Discussions with Government of Iraq (GOI)
officials, as well as political developments, indicate that
trafficking in persons (TIP) remains a divisive topic, but
one whose profile is rising. Recent movement on the GOI's
anti-trafficking draft legislation has emboldened various
NGOs, politicians, and GOI entities to decry inaction and
indifference to TIP. Embassy Baghdad intends to encourage
increasing attention to build support for passage of TIP
legislation after the March 7 election. End summary.


CONFLICTING DIPLOMATIC NOTES CAUSE A STIR
--------------


2. (C) In July, 2009, after the publication of the 2009
Trafficking in Persons Report for Iraq, the Ministry of Human
Rights (MOHR) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA)
responded to Embassy Baghdad with a diplomatic note in which
the GOI highlighted its actions to address the issue. The
note stressed the seriousness with which Iraq views its
cooperation and coordination efforts with regional and
international players to fight human trafficking in Iraq. In
January, 2010, Embassy received a second diplomatic note
that, contradicting the tone and substance of the July 2009
diplomatic note, decried the methods used by the USG in
producing the 2009 TIP Report and stated that "...no human
trafficking crime has been officially reported in Iraq to
justify accusing the government of negligence in taking the
necessary actions" to comply with minimum standards for
eliminating human trafficking. Poloffs spoke with contacts
at the MOHR, including the Minister of Human Rights, and
ascertained that this second diplomatic note was the work of
one specific GOI official who took exception to the 2009 TIP
report. These contacts also stated that the GOI's
interagency trafficking committee had not provided input or
clearance for the second note.


3. (C) The Minister of Human Rights told Poloff in early
February that the second diplomatic note was "very
unprofessional" and that the MOHR had refused to sign it.
She added that she planned to write a letter to the Council

of Ministers to invalidate the second diplomatic note. The
release of the second diplomatic note reveals the highly
divergent views on TIP held by GOI entities, as well as the
divisive nature of the trafficking issue in political
circles. We assess the sentiments expressed in the second
diplomatic note do not reflect prevailing GOI thinking on TIP
issues, although it likely captures an undertone of GOI
bureaucratic resistance to progress on trafficking, possibly
based on conservative religious views. Strong advocacy, both
by MOHR officials as well as NGOs and key COR members, has
established significant, if occasionally stymied momentum on
this issue.

INTERMINISTERIAL COMMITTEE TACKLES TIP
--------------


4. (C) Along with the development of anti-trafficking
draft legislation, an interministerial committee to combat
human trafficking was established to serve as a point of
contact for all matters related to human trafficking. MOHR
Director Saad Fattehallah, who chairs the group, told Poloff
that he anticipated the draft legislation would be passed
after the March, 2010 elections. He did not foresee
"political obstacles" hindering passage of the bill, and
believed the interministerial committee was prepared to lobby
for enough funds to implement an ambitious catalogue of
prevention, protection, and prosecution-related initiatives
to combat trafficking in Iraq. Fattehallah said the
Qto combat trafficking in Iraq. Fattehallah said the
Committee had redoubled its efforts to work in tandem with
GOI ministries to develop and disseminate public awareness
programming on TIP, focused on youth centers and school
groups. These efforts were partly a response to a perceived
lack of understanding and education on trafficking among the
Iraqi public.

WOMEN'S COMMITTEE SHARES VIEWS ON TIP
--------------


5. (C) MP Nada Ibrahim, who serves on the Women's
Committee, told Poloff that until a few years ago, shelters
assisting women who were raped or sexually exploited, often
as a result of being trafficked, were frequent targets of
terrorist attacks. While there was still much progress to be
made on educating the public about human trafficking for the
purposes of sexual exploitation, attitudes towards
TIP-related violence and providing assistance to victims of
gender based violence were evolving. "Now is the time to
make progress on this issue," she concluded.


6. (C) At the same time, MP Ibrahim related that some GOI
officials could not overcome their personal and religious
beliefs about trafficking to view TIP as a political issue.
She recounted a conversation with Women's Committee
Chairwoman Sameera Al-Mousawi, who walked off the stage in
the middle of a televised interview with Yanar Mohammed, an
NGO activist, regarding female victims of sexual exploitation
and trafficking. Ibrahim remembered that when she confronted
Mousawi after the incident and asked her why she did not
acknowledge the situation of female victims of trafficking as
a political issue, Mousawi had responded by declaring that
these women were "prostitutes who must die." Ibrahim
lamented that some GOI officials who might otherwise help
Iraq make progress on TIP harbored strong personal beliefs
that precluded their objective consideration of human
trafficking as a political issue. Despite the presence of
these individuals in key positions of influence, Ibrahim and
other activists within the GOI were willing to champion the
issue, she emphasized.


7. (C) COMMENT: While the upcoming March 7 election will
undoubtedly change political dynamics in Iraq, momentum to
address TIP and related issues appears to be growing within
elements of the GOI. At the very least, this momentum will
result in healthy debate of the anti-trafficking draft
legislation later this year. Post will continue to track and
report on how post-election changes in key GOI areas, such as
the Ministry of Human Rights and the Women's Committee,
affect the direction of these evolving discussions and
attitudes about trafficking in persons in Iraq. END COMMENT
FORD