Child Labor and Forced Labor Reports


2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor:

Minimal Advancement – Efforts Made but Continued Practice that Delayed Advancement

In 2018, Iraq made a minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament endorsed the Iraqi Law to Combat Human Trafficking. The Iraqi Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs increased the number of inspections, shut down several brick factories for violations of child labor laws, and continued its cash transfer program for at-risk children and families. However, despite new initiatives to address child labor, Iraq is receiving an assessment of minimal advancement because it continued a practice that delayed advancement in eliminating the worst forms of child labor. Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities continued to inappropriately detain and prosecute without legal representation children allegedly affiliated to ISIS—some of whom were victims of forcible recruitment and use—including using abusive interrogation techniques and torture to gain children’s confessions instead of screening these children as potential human trafficking victims. In addition, in 2018, some militia groups affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces, including Iranian-backed groups, recruited boys younger than age 18 to fight in Syria and Yemen. While these forces operated under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces—which was legally incorporated into the Iraqi defense forces in 2016—they generally remained outside of the command and control of the Iraqi government. Children in Iraq engage in other worst forms of child labor, including forced begging and commercial sexual exploitation, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Labor law enforcement suffers from an insufficient number of labor inspectors and a lack of funding for inspections, authority to assess penalties, and labor inspector training. There is no child labor policy in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, and research could not find information on the implementation of the existing policy in Iraq. The government also continues to lack programs that focus on assisting children involved in the worst forms of child labor.

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