The US State Department revealed in its ”2021 Trafficking in Persons Report” that the Iranian government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, therefore it remained on Tier 3.
During the reporting period, there was a government policy or government pattern of recruiting and using child soldiers, as well as complicity in sex trafficking of adults and children with impunity.
The report said government officials continue to perpetrate and condone “trafficking crimes with impunity, both in Iran and overseas, and did not report law enforcement efforts to address the crime.”
The government continued to force or coerce children and adults to fight for Iranian-led militias operating in Syria, and it continued to provide financial support to militias fighting in armed conflicts in the region that recruited and used child soldiers.
In addition, the government failed to identify and protect trafficking victims among vulnerable populations.
The report also noted that: “Victims continued to face severe punishment, including death, for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, such as engaging in commercial sex and immigration violations.”
A 2004 law criminalized trafficking in persons by means of threat or use of force, coercion, abuse of power, or abuse of a victim’s position of vulnerability for purposes of prostitution, slavery, or forced marriage, read the report.
Inconsistent with the definition of trafficking under international law, the law required movement to constitute a trafficking offense and required a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion in child sex trafficking cases.
The report stated that the Iranian government continued to conflate human trafficking and smuggling crimes, and efforts to address sex trafficking and forced labor crimes were either nonexistent or not widely publicized.
“The government did not report statistics on investigations, prosecutions, convictions, or sentences of traffickers.”
The State Department report said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian Basij Resistance Force (Basij), a paramilitary force subordinate to the IRGC, continued to actively recruit and use migrant and refugee children and adults, as well as Iranian children, for combat in IRGC-led and commanded militias in Syria.
According to a statement made by an IRGC official in October 2019, the IRGC may have recruited child soldiers from 3,700 student Basij bases in Khuzestan province, and these child soldiers were likely still engaged with the IRGC during the reporting period.
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