IOM Leverages Community Policing to Address Trafficking in Persons in Iraq

Posted: 
04/26/19
Themes: 
Human Smuggling, Counter-Trafficking

Erbil – In the aftermath of the ISIL crisis, the Government of Iraq is dealing with a myriad of post-conflict challenges to rebuild the country, including creating economic opportunities, delivering social services, mending the social fabric in communities, and ensuring laws are enforced for the safety and security for all the country’s inhabitants, just to name a few. 

Conditions of conflict are fertile grounds for crimes related to trafficking in persons (TiP), including sexual exploitation and forced labor, the enslavement of women and girls by members of armed groups and the use of trafficked children as soldiers and street beggars. 

IOM Iraq was instrumental in supporting the Government of Iraq with the development of the national counter-trafficking law in 2012. Now that the conflict has subsided, it is critical that State structures are empowered to take on this growing transnational crime. An innovative approach that IOM recently introduced is mainstreaming of the community policing approach to investigate cases of TiP. 

IOM’s community policing programme aims to contribute to enhanced security and stability in Iraq by facilitating dialogue between communities and law enforcement actors through Community Policing Forums (CPF) in communities affected by conflict and displacement. The programme is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. 

With the experience of strengthening community policing across Iraq since 2015, IOM recognizes the benefits of a community engagement in identifying and preventing crimes and addressing security concerns, including human trafficking. 

IOM has supported the Government of Iraq, including the Kurdistan Regional Government, to establish Community Policing Forums (CPF), which are inclusive groups of diverse community members and community police officers where security-related concerns, including TiP, are discussed in a safe environment. 

IOM has launched a set of trainings and seminars for 60 Iraqi investigative judges and law enforcement officers in Erbil and Baghdad to train them on mainstreaming community policing principles into the investigation of TiP cases. 

The training in Erbil last week was attended by senior level community policing officers, police investigators, investigative judges and prosecutors, including the head of the Counter Trafficking Directorate and the head of Directorate for Combating Violence Against Women in Kurdistan Region of Iraq. To promote collaboration on counter-trafficking across borders, an IOM regional law enforcement expert on TiP was invited to share best practices from across the Middle East and North Africa region. 

“Our directorate was newly established in 2018, and this training was really essential, especially for our new colleagues,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dara Farouq, head of Counter Trafficking Directorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. “The training helped us to learn new methods of investigation, as we currently have a lot of cases related to foreign migrant workers that need these methods to be applied to rescue the victims of trafficking and bring the perpetrators to justice.” 

“Iraq poses a complex TiP problem as trafficking happens before and during crisis situations and across the borders,” explained Placido Silipigni, head of IOM Iraq’s Migration Management Unit. “We are pleased to see that the community policing approach is effective in bringing these crimes to the surface to ensure law enforcement and actors in the judiciary work collaboratively to respond to, and mitigate, these crimes.” 

Following the trainings, IOM will support a series of information-sharing sessions across the country that will include an investigative judge and a police officer, alongside an IOM representative, who will speak to 100 district police officers and investigative judges about TiP in Iraq and investigative approaches based on community policing principles. 

For more information please contact: Sandra Black in IOM Iraq, Tel: +964 751 234 2550, Email: sblack@iom.int