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PH hails Iraqi Kurdistan’s new anti-human trafficking body

June 15, 2016 ·  By INQUIRER.net US Bureau for globalnation.inquirer.net

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Philippine Embassy Chargè d’Affaires Elmer G. Cato meets with Director General Sami Jalal Hussein, head of the newly created High Committee to Combat Human Trafficking in Erbil, to discuss issues involving Filipino workers in the region. (PHILIPINE EMBASSY/JEROME FRIAZ

Philippine Embassy Chargè d’Affaires Elmer G. Cato meets with Director General Sami Jalal Hussein, head of the newly created High Committee to Combat Human Trafficking in Erbil, to discuss issues involving Filipino workers in the region. (PHILIPINE EMBASSY/JEROME FRIAZ

ERBIL, Iraq—The Philippine Embassy in Baghdad June 8 commended the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq for stepping up its efforts to combat human trafficking in the country’s northern region.

In a statement, the Embassy cited the recent creation by Kurdish authorities of an interagency body that would handle human trafficking cases, saying the move would help protect Filipinos and other foreign workers in Kurdistan.

“We would like to thank the Kurdistan Regional Government led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani for this initiative,” Chargé d’Affaires Elmer G. Cato said. “This demonstrates the determination and commitment of Kurdish authorities to help fight human trafficking in Iraq.”

The order creating the High Committee to Combat Human Trafficking was issued on 16 May by Interior Minister Karim Sinjari and is headed by Director General Sami Jalal Hussein.

The other members of the committee are Director General Arif Hito Abdulrahman of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs; Director Tawfiq Rahman of the Department of Foreign Relations; and Director Fathi Mustafa of the Ministry of Interior.

The committee is tasked to investigate human trafficking cases and formulate policy guidelines to protect the rights and welfare of migrant workers in the Kurdistan region, which is host to 1,500 of the estimated 2,000 Filipinos working in Iraq.

Cato also expressed the Embassy’s appreciation for the support and cooperaton extended by Kurdish authorities on issues affecting Filipino workers in the region.

“The Kurdistan Regional Government has gone a long way since we first began actively engaging them on the issue of trafficking in persons nine months ago,” Cato said as he cited the successful rescue and repatriation in October of 12 Filipino trafficking victims.

The embassy official also pointed to other human trafficking cases involving Filipinos that were resolved with the assistance of the regional govenrment. “All those would not have been possible without the support of Kurdish authorities,” he said.

Aside from the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Embassy cited the important contribution of the International Organization for Migration and the Seed Foundation Kurdistan in assisting Filipino victims of human trafficking in the region.

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