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Portugal placed on Iraqi child trafficking route

Portugal placed on Iraqi child trafficking route
Iraqi authorities have announced that they believe Portugal is amongst a number of European countries where children are being sold via a mega-network of human trafficking.
PJ police and SEF immigration authorities, who are looking into the allegations, were surprised by the claims but said they would carry out the necessary investigations and ask their international counterparts for more information.
According to Iraqi police investigating the situation, every month around 15 children from that country are sold to Europe and the Middle East for between €150 and €3,000.
Some are sold for adoption, others to peadophile rings.
Quoted by British newspaper The Guardian, Iraqi colonel Firaz Abdallah, reportedly said there are various gangs operating in Iraq who sell minors to Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Ireland, the UK, Portugal and Switzerland.
Portuguese national PJ co-director Pedro do Carmo told Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias: “We are aware and we are going to ask local Iraqi authorities and other international counterparts for more information”.
Iraqi authorities claim the network uses middle men who pose as members of non-governmental organizations to negotiate with families. All necessary documents are prepared, including birth certificates, name changes, and the addition of the child’s name to the adult’s passport he or she will be travelling with.
SEF says it is “completely unaware” of the situation, though it did acknowledge some European countries, “particularly Sweden” had registered a growth in immigration from Iraq, including cases of asylum and refugees.
The SEF source added “concerning Iraqis, Portugal has no history in that domain”.
According to the director of the National Plan for Human Trafficking, Miguel Albano, in 2008, 29 people who had fallen victim to this set-up where detected in Portugal, nine of whom were aged between 10 and 20 years.
“No children were identified, just teenagers” Miguel Albano said, adding the majority of those were subject to sexual exploitation.
Meanwhile, Victor Santos Coelho, of the Human Trafficking Observatory – an official entity that monitors these networks – has said that, faced with these worries, he will use all procedures within his powers to confirm if anyone is in the situation.
Edition: 1006
2009 Apr 18