The aim of the “Human Trafficking” conference planned for 21 and 22 May at Dokan Lake in Iraqi Kurdistan, and presented today at the foreign ministry in Rome, is to exchange knowledge and experiences in an effort to combat trafficking in human beings. Italian and Iraqi institutional representatives and experts will compare respective legislation, skills and methods for combating a phenomenon in alarming expansion, the victims of which amount to over 12 million annually around the world.
A structured partnership
The conference is part of a counter-trafficking project that falls within the framework of the democracy-building in Iraq being advanced by the NGO Minerva, the International Alliance for Justice and Legal Aid Worldwide, and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within the context of joint Italy-Iraq post-conflict reconstruction and institution building initiatives. A collaboration, as the foreign ministry’s coordinator for the Gulf Countries Queirolo Palmas pointed out, that is the fruit of one of Iraq’s most structured partnerships, along with those with the U.S. and the EU.
Human trafficking, the speakers pointed out, targets the weakest categories and ranges from sexual exploitation to forced labour. Iraq is both a point of departure and arrival for men, women and children forced into prostitution and labour in wealthy neighbouring countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey. This new “slavery is one of the main challenges to confront”, asserted Iraqi ambassador in Italy Saywan Barzani, recalling how his country had endured decades of war, dictatorship and sanctions that have taken their toll on the society”, and rendered it easy prey to exploitation.
President of IAJ Bakhtiar Amin explained that it was therefore necessary to create a “preventive strategy to protect the victims and witnesses and sanction the traffickers”, and that the May conference would serve to attract the attention of the Iraqi, but also the Arab, civil society”.