23 August 2023

UK and Iraq strengthen partnership to combat crime and terrorism

23 August 2023

The UK and Iraq have strengthened their partnership to combat crime and terrorism as security minister Tom Tugendhat wraps up a three-day visit to the region.

The agreement, reached with the government of Iraq and the Kurdistan regional government, seeks to reinforce the UK’s efforts to tackle serious organised crime, including organised immigration crime, human trafficking and narcotics.

Both countries are preparing to sign a statement of intent to tackle shared organised-crime threats in the coming weeks.

Mr Tugendhat’s visit, from August 21 to 23, saw him engaged in high-level discussions in Baghdad with prime minister Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani, foreign affairs minister Fuad Hussein and interior minister Lt Gen Abdul-Amir Al-Shammeri.

He also travelled to Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, where he was welcomed by the region’s president Nechirvan Barzani.

Speaking on the final day of his trip, Mr Tugendhat said: “It’s great to be back in Iraq for the first time in 20 years, and to see first-hand how this country has changed.

Iraq is a key partner in our fight against terrorism, as well as serious and organised crime

“Iraq is a key partner in our fight against terrorism, as well as serious and organised crime.

“The Iraqi security forces are on the front lines of our fight against Isis. Many of the criminal gangs who operate small boat crossings in the English Channel operate out of Iraq, which is why I’m working with our partners in Baghdad to bring them to justice.

“I’m pleased that we will be boosting our joint efforts to crack down on human trafficking, narcotics and money laundering, and strengthening our important partnership in the fight against terror.”

Mr Tugendhat also discussed ways to intensify information-sharing, with both countries preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding on counter-terrorism co-ordination.

He also advocated for the implementation of the Yazidi Survivors Law, which provides a reparations framework for many survivors of crimes committed by so-called Islamic State.

In addition, he engaged with non-governmental organisations, independent journalists and the UN to discuss modern slavery and human trafficking of women and girls, and serious and organised crime and its links to illegal migration.

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