Adopted by the Committee: 30 January 2015
Published by the Committee: 4 February 2015
Ratification and national policy:
The Committee welcomes the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in June 2008; Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict in June 2008; ILO Convention No. 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in July 2001; and Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 2013. The Iraqi Constitution of 2005, which included provisions for the protection of family, maternity and childhoodThe National Strategy for Reproductive Health and for the Health of Mother and Child (2013 – 2017) The Strategy to Facilitate Access to High-quality Education in the Kurdistan Region (2013–2018); The National Strategy to Eradicate Illiteracy in Iraq (para.3-5).
The Committee is concerned about the persistent and extreme gender-based discrimination which girls experience from the earliest stages of their lives and throughout their childhood and which exposes them to domestic violence; psychological and sexual exploitation and abuse; early, forced and temporary (Muta’a) marriage; as well as low access to education (para.17).
The Committee is concerned about persistent discrimination against various groups of children in the State party, including children belonging to ethnic and/or religious minority groups especially concerning their access to identification documents and social services; children born out of wedlock; children with disabilities who are subjected to multiple violations of their rights; as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children, children who are cared for by persons from these groups and children showing a non-conformist social behaviour (para.19).
It is also concerned about the discrimination faced by children belonging to religious minorities. Furthermore, the Committee, in line with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD/C/IRQ/CO/15-21, para.13) is concerned about information received from civil society according to which children of ethno-religious minority groups whose parents have converted to Islam, are banned from reverting to their original religion. (para.34).
Threat to life:
The Committee is concerned about the systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL, including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive; The very large number of children killed and severely injured, as a result of the current fighting, including by air strikes, shelling and military operations by the Iraqi Security Forces, and as a result of land mines and explosive war remnants. This includes deaths from dehydration, starvation and heat in conflict affected areas; and the high number of children who have been abducted by the so-called ISIL, many of whom are severely traumatized from witnessing the murder of their parents and are subjected to physical and sexual assault (para.23).
The Committee is deeply concerned that while women and girls continue to be killed or injured in the name of so called “honour”, or are subjected to social pressure resulting in suicide, the State party has still not repealed articles 409 as well as 128, 130 and 131 of the Penal Code (Act No. 111 (1969)) considering so-called “honourable motives” to be mitigating factors for crimes such as murder. The Committee is also concerned about: The persistence of gender-based discriminatory attitudes within society, which have resulted in people from besieged towns requesting the Government to bomb the prisons where girls and women are held, raped and sold into sexual slavery by the so-called ISIL; Extremist armed groups and militias, arbitrarily judging and killing women and girls in the name of so-called “honour”; and Lack of access to protection by girls who are in danger of falling victim to crimes in the name of so-called “honour” (para.25).
The Committee is deeply concerned about cases of LGBT children, or children suspected of being LGBT, as well as children showing a nonconformist social behaviour, being persecuted, tortured and killed by non-state militias with impunity. The Committee is furthermore concerned that police and courts regularly consider the sexual orientation or gender identity of a victim of violence as a mitigating factor leading to many cases of attacks towards LGBT children going unreported out of fear of further victimization and discrimination (para.27).
The Committee is concerned about the State party’s civil records system depending on the 1957 census which has led a variety of population, in particular the Dom community, to be deprived of a nationality certificate as well as of many of their rights; The risk for children of mixed couples not to receive identity documents as a result of the Personal Status Code of 1959 prohibiting the marriage of Muslim women to non-Muslim men; The non-registration of Baha’i children as a result of the Law No. 105 of 1970, prohibiting the Baha’i faith; Faili Kurd children being often stateless due to the slow reinstatement process of the Faili Kurd population ; and The requirement according to which the “virgin girl” between 12 and 40 years of age needs the consent of her parents or legal representative to be issued a passport (para.31).
The Committee is concerned about reported acts of torture and other cruel and degrading treatment and punishment committed against children by police (para.36)
The Committee is concerned that children are routinely subjected to corporal punishment in the State party and that corporal punishment remains lawful in schools, in alternative care settings, and that while it is prohibited in detention and prison facilities, it is not explicitly prohibited in other institutions accommodating children in conflict with the law, including the Surveillance Centre, the Rehabilitation School for Preadolescents, the Rehabilitation Centre for Adolescents and the Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre. The Committee furthermore notes with concern that corporal punishment remains lawful in the home and that a husband has the legal right to discipline his wife by beating according to article 41 of the Penal Code (Act No. 111 (1969)) (para.38).
The Committee is concerned about the high prevalence of sexual exploitation and abuse of children, particularly girls. The Committee is furthermore concerned about: Article 427 of the Penal Code (Act No. 111 (1969)), which allows for the impunity of perpetrators of rape in cases where they marry the girl they have abused; The lack of support for full psychological and physical recovery of child victims; andThe stigmatisation of child victims of sexual exploitation and abuse (para.42).
The Committee abhors the continuing sexual enslavement of children since the emergence of the so-called ISIL, in particular of children belonging to minority groups who are held by the so-called ISIL. It notes with the utmost concern the “markets” set up by the so-called ISIL, in which they sell abducted children and women attaching price tags to them; and the sexual enslavement of children detained in makeshift prisons of the so-called ISIL, such as the former Badoush prison outside Mosul (para.44).
The Committee is deeply concerned about the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the State party, in particular in the autonomous Kurdistan region, despite its criminalization by Act No. 8 of 2011, and that insufficient measures have been taken to combat this practice (para.46).
The Committee is deeply concerned about the high prevalence of early, temporary - Muta’a - marriages and forced marriages of girls, reportedly on the rise since 2003. While noting that article 9 of the Personal Status Act No. 188 prohibits forced marriage, the Committee is concerned that this article only applies if the marriage has not yet been “consummated”. The Committee is also concerned about: The practice of Al Nehwa marriages where a girl is forced to marry her paternal cousin; Cases of forced marriage being reviewed by court only if the victim files a complaint and victims not benefitting from any protection after filing the complaint; Legal exceptions to the minimum age for marriage set at 18 years for girls and boys in Act No. 188 (1959), which allow for the marriage of girls at the age of 15, and in article 8 of the Juvenile Welfare Act 76 (1983) where a judge may authorize the marriage of a 15 year old girl under certain circumstances; and The minimum age of marriage being 16 years in Kurdistan, and even lower if authorized by a guardian (para.48).
The Committee is concerned that polygamy and repudiation remain legal in the State party, which is contrary to the dignity of women and girls and which negatively affects their children. The Committee is particularly concerned that: Negative gender stereotypes persist concerning the tasks and roles of women and girls, especially in the family and that widowed and divorced women face severe discrimination, impacting on their children, including discrimination in obtaining official documents and accessing government aid; and mothers are considered as the “physical” but not the legal custodian of their children and that women are granted custody only until the child is 10 years of age with rare exceptions (para.50).
The Committee is extremely concerned about the significant number of children, who have been forcibly separated from their parents during displacement, or because their parents have been forced to leave them with the so-called ISIL under threat of death of the child. The Committee is also concerned about the high number of children who have lost their families during the many years of conflict and the lack of measures and strategies to provide these children with protection and alternative care, in particular foster care (para.52).
The Committee is concerned about the consequences of the criminalization of sexual relations outside of marriage by article 377 of the Penal Code (Act No. 111 (1969)), which bears the danger of abandonment or killing of babies born out of these relations. The Committee is also deeply concerned at the social rejection and stigmatization of single mothers in the State party, and at the serious consequences of their social rejection on their children (para.54).
Children with disabilities:
The Committee is concerned about school buildings being insufficiently accessible for children with disabilities, the absence of appropriate learning materials, the shortage of specially qualified teachers and the lack of adequate early childhood development services for children with disabilities; and The insufficient access of children with disabilities to social services and to financial support (para.58).
The Committee is concerned about the high prevalence of chronic under-nutrition and maternal mortality, especially concerning under-age mothers, in rural areas and the central and southern regions (para.60).
The Committee notes with concern that many regions are affected with a high toxic level of lead, mercury contamination and depleted uranium pollution, which has led to a high infant mortality rate and an increase in cancer rates and birth defects among children (para.62).
The Committee is concerned about the significant number of children suffering from varying degrees of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (para.64).
Standard of living:
The Committee is concerned about the high number of children suffering from poverty and lacking access to social services, and significant geographic disparities. Furthermore the Committee deeply regrets: The high number of homeless children throughout the State party; The lack of access to housing, safe drinking water, adequate sanitation or waste collection services in many parts of the country (para.70).
The Committee notes with concern that only half of secondary school-aged children are currently attending school as a consequence of schools being attacked, school children kidnapped on their way to school, and that a very high number of internally displaced and refugee children have no access to school. The Committee is further concerned about: The state of disrepair of school buildings, which have been bombed and destroyed or which have been occupied by displaced communities; Insufficient and inadequate education materials, as well as lack of access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation in schools; The highly insecure situation of teachers, many of whom having been assassinated or kidnapped, as well as having fled the country or having being obliged to work under threat for the so-called ISIL; Girls’ access to school being hampered by negative patriarchal customs and norms, which leads to a significant number of girls being illiterate; and The inadequately allocated budget for education (para.72).
Internally displaced children:
The Committee is seriously concerned about the situation of insecurity and poor living conditions of refugee and internally displaced families and children, especially those who remain cut off from any humanitarian assistance and who suffer starvation in the mountains. The Committee is particularly concerned that children are recruited by non-State armed groups and that internally displaced and refugee families live under constant threats in overcrowded settlements often without access to safe drinking water and sanitation, sewage disposal, health services, as well as heating systems, blankets and winter clothes. The Committee is also concerned that: The provision of instalment grants to displaced families by the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, as well as the provision of treatment and preventative services, have only benefited a small number of internally displaced children and that access to food rations, education, government benefits and financial assistance is provided only after presentation of identification documents which most of them do not possess; Refugee and internally displaced girls are particularly exposed to domestic violence, forced, temporary (Muta’a) and early marriages and “sexual exploitation”; Most refugee and internally displaced children lack access to education while child labour is on the increase; and NGOs are not allowed to provide shelter to displaced persons (para.74).
Indigenous and minority group children:
The Committee expresses its deepest concern at the deplorable situation of children and families belonging to minority groups, in particular Turkmen, Shabak, Christians, Yezidi, Sabean-Mandaean, Kaka’e, Faili Kurds, Arab Shi’a, Assyrian, Baha’i, Alawites who are systematically killed, tortured, raped, forced to convert to Islam, cut off from humanitarian assistance by the so-called ISIL in a reported attempt by the so-called ISIL members to suppress, permanently cleanse or expel, or in some instances, destroy these minority communities (para.76).
The Committee expresses concern that children belonging to minority groups have also been facing other forms of discrimination in the State party and that attacks against minority groups have often resulted in the impunity of the perpetrators mainly due to the reluctance of State law enforcement authorities to hold them accountable, the lack of confidence in State officials and fear of repercussions. The Committee is furthermore concerned that: Children belonging to minority groups continue to face legislative and practical obstacles to access services, in particular identification documents, healthcare, education, safe drinking water, electricity and adequate housing; Children from the Black community and Roma villages do not have primary education facilities and that many Turkmen schools do not receive assistance from the Ministry of Education; Despite the constitutional guarantee for children to be educated in their mother tongue, this right is frequently not respected for children from minority groups. The Committee further regrets that history or culture of minorities are hardly represented in the curriculum and that there have been cases of marginalization of children belonging to minority groups by teachers; and There are regular instances of hate speeches against minorities and lack of legal protection against these, and that children from minority groups suffer from everyday societal marginalization and discrimination, including harassment of girls from minority groups for not being veiled (para.78).
The Committee is concerned about reports according to which a significant amount of children between age three and 16 are engaged in child labour, many of them in hazardous conditions, vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse. The Committee also regrets that: A high number of children engaged in child labour; Labour law provisions do not apply to children over 15 of age who are employed in a family enterprise managed or supervised by spouse, father, mother, brother or sister; and Full and adequate protection against all forms of sexual harassment in employment and occupation is lacking(para.80).
The Committee is very concerned about the high number of children, including a high rate of internally displaced children, living and/or working in the streets, where they are exposed to various crimes, including sexual violence and abuse, drugs as well as used by criminal gangs (para.82).
The Committee is deeply concerned that internal displacement and sectarian violence have also led to a significant increase of trafficking, with many children being trafficked, in particular for the purpose of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude, but also for the purpose of forced labour or services, slavery or similar practices and servitude, both within the country as well as to Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. The Committee is also particularly concerned about reports of children being trafficked from orphanages by employees for the purpose of forced prostitution (para.84).
The Committee is concerned about reports of girls sentenced to death being held in the Karrada juvenile detention facility, until they turn 18 and then transferred to death row, despite the Juvenile Welfare Act No. 76 (1983, amended) not permitting life imprisonment or the death penalty for children; The low age of criminal responsibility which is set at nine years of age, and only increased to 11 years of age in the draft Juveniles Act; Instances where the lack of birth registration and difficulties in determining the age of children has resulted in death sentences for persons, who were under 18 years of age at the time of the offence; The lack of adequate rehabilitation programmes or institutions to support children’s reintegration in society following detention (para.86).