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Optional protocolon the involvement of children in armed conflict, on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
ViolenceThe 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 ISIL. It notes with the utmost concern the “markets” set up by ISIL, in which they sell abducted children and women after attaching price tags to them, and the sexual enslavement of children detained in makeshift prisons of ISIL, such as the former Badoush prison outside Mosul.The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary measures to rescue children who are under the control of the so-called ISIL and bring the perpetrators to justice. The Committee also urges the State party to provide assistance to children released or rescued from slavery or abduction.
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools and penal institutions.
Overview of the child rights situation

The Committee notes the particularly severe effects of the ongoing armed conflict, political instability and presence of armed groups in the State party, the reinforcement of sectarian and ethnic divisions and the rise of religious extremism, which have led to severe violations of children’s rights and constitute a serious obstacle to the implementation of the rights enshrined in the Convention, particularly worsened by terrorist acts committed by criminal groups belonging to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Committee reminds the State party of the continuity of international human rights obligations and that the rights under the Convention apply to all children at all times. The Committee also reminds the State party that it bears the primary responsibility to protect its population and should therefore take immediate measures to stop the use of excessive and lethal force against civilians and to prevent further violence against children, including killing and injury.

Iraq is at war, which is a poor prerequisite for ensuring children's rights. Children themselves are killed or used by armed forces. There is not enough food and a lack of schools and health care coverage and many children have to leave their homes. In addition, there is severe discrimination against girls, the death penalty is carried out against children, and religious minorities are forced to convert.

Situation of intersexual and transsexual childrenThe Committee is deeply concerned about cases of children who are, or who are suspected of being, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, as well as children demonstrating non-conformist social behaviour, being persecuted, tortured and killed by non-State militias with impunity. The Committee is also concerned that the 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 against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children going unreported out of fear of further victimization and discrimination. The Committee recommends that the State party take all necessary measures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children and children demonstrating any kind of non-conformist behaviour from all forms of attack, hold perpetrators of attacks fully accountable, and ensure that the sexual identity or gender identity of the victim is under no circumstances accepted as a mitigating circumstance.
Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

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, and little access to education. The Committee further urges the State party to apply a zero-tolerance policy towards gender-based crimes committed in the name of so-called “honour” and ensure a prompt and effective investigation into all cases.

Racism, children belonging to a minority and indigenous childrenThe Committee expresses its deepest concern at the deplorable situation of children and families belonging to minority groups, in particular Turkmen, Shabak, Christians, Yazidi, Sabian-Mandaeans, Kaka’e, Faili Kurds, Arab Shia, Assyrians, Baha’i and Alawites, who are systematically killed, tortured, raped, forced to convert to Islam and cut off from humanitarian assistance by the so-called ISIL in a reported attempt by its members to suppress, permanently cleanse or expel, or in some instances, destroy these minority communities.The Committee urges the State party to take immediate measures and provide all necessary protection to children belonging to minority groups and ensure that those persecuting them are prosecuted and punished, respecting international standards of due legal process. Furthermore, the Committee urges the State party, wherever possible, to commit itself to the full restitution to minority communities of their former lands and homes and to provide compensation to those who have lost their properties
Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee is concerned about the situation of children with disabilities being particularly worsened by the current conflict, as well as about the continuing societal discrimination and stigma towards children with disabilities. In particular, it 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. It is further concerned about the insufficient access of children with disabilities to social services and to financial support.
The Committee urges the State party to adopt a human rights-based approach to disability, placing particular focus on children who have become injured during conflict, and specifically recommends that it ensure effective inclusive education and allocate all the necessary human, technical and financial resources for its implementation. Furthermore, the Committee recommends to undertake awareness-raising programmes on eliminating discrimination against children with disabilities, and strengthen its enforcement mechanisms for ensuring compliance with its legislation prohibiting such discrimination.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe 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 urges the State party to improve the situation by, inter alia, taking all necessary measures to guarantee the rights and well-being of internally displaced and refugee children, and in particular by increasing substantially the resources allocated for internally displaced persons. Furthermore, the Committee urges the State party to implement targeted programmes for children in order to ensure their adequate access to clean water, adequate sanitation, including dignity kits for girls and women, food and shelter, including access to heating systems, blankets and winter clothing, as well as health-care and immunization coverage.
Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolYes
physical health

The Committee notes with appreciation that there has been a significant increase in immunization coverage and institutional delivery since 2006, but regrets the high rate of under-5 mortality, the high prevalence of chronic undernutrition and maternal mortality, especially concerning underage mothers, in rural areas and the central and southern regions. This includes the increased emergence of communicable and non-communicable diseases, including the high risk of a polio and measles outbreak, and a high rate of malnutrition among internally displaced children. The Committee is also concerned that, while the armed conflict is having a devastating impact on the availability and quality of health care, the State party devotes a low percentage of the federal budget to its health-care system.
The Committee is further concerned about the increase in drug abuse among adolescents, and the unavailability of drug prevention services that address the needs of adolescent drug users.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee is concerned about the significant number of children suffering from varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore, the Committee recommends that Iraq set up programmes and train specialists to support children who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and ongoing conflict-related stress.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee notes with concern that many regions are affected by 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.
The Committee recommends that the State party make every effort to remove all types of war remnants and disseminate information among children and the general public about the different types of war remnants, and undertake protection measures. Furthermore, children who have been injured or fall ill should be provided with all the necessary health care.

Business sector

The Committee notes that the worst forms of child labour are forbidden in the State party. The Committee, however, regrets the weak and insufficient implementation of this prohibition and is deeply concerned about reports according to which a significant number of children between the ages of 3 and 16 are engaged in child labour, many of them in hazardous conditions, vulnerable to violence and sexual abuse.
The Committee urges the State party to enact legislation to ensure that child labour, including in the informal economy and family businesses, is in full compliance with international standards in terms of age, working hours, working conditions, education and health, as well as to ensure the full protection of children against all forms of sexual, physical and psychological harassment. The Committee also recommends that Iraq establish programmes to reintegrate children who are illiterate and/or have been involved in child labour into mainstream education as well as strengthen the implementation of labour laws by establishing labour inspections, including in the informal sector, and ensure that anyone violating legislation on child labour be held accountable.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee is concerned about reported acts of torture and other cruel or degrading treatment or punishment committed against children by the police.
The Committee is also highly concerned about the increasing number of children in detention, especially in pretrial detention for long periods, and the particularly poor living conditions to which they are subjected, including overcrowding, exposure to physical and sexual abuse and insufficient access to medical services. The Committee is particularly concerned about reports of girls sentenced to death being held in the Karrada juvenile detention facility until they turn 18 and then being transferred to death row, despite the Juvenile Welfare Act not permitting life imprisonment or the death penalty for children. Therefore, the Committee urges the State party to bring its juvenile justice system fully into line with the Convention and other relevant standards and develop facilities and programmes for the physical and psychological recovery and the social reintegration of juveniles.

Specific observations

The Committee expresses serious concern about the high prevalence of corruption and the lack of accountability mechanisms in the State party and the resulting detrimental impact on children’s rights. The Committee urges Iraq to take firm measures to prevent and eradicate corruption and prosecute State and local officials for acts of corruption.

The Committee abhors and condemns the targeted and brutal killings of children by the so-called ISIL and in particular the killing or severe injury of a very large number of children 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 landmines and explosive war remnants. This includes deaths from dehydration, starvation and heat in conflict-affected areas.

Additional background

Concluding observations on the second to fourth periodic reports released on 3 March 2015. More information about education in Iraq:

Last Updated (date)22nd of February, 2022