Check-in, check-out: smuggling Iraqis studying in Iran through backdoors


Shafaq News/ Recently, an increasing number of Iraqi nationals have been pursuing higher education in the universities of neighboring Iran, where the tuition fees are significantly lower when compared to other countries.

Without changing their abode, some students managed to apply for universities inside the Iranian territory, thanks to smuggling networks commuting the students across the borders.

Many students still reminisce the details of their peers' ventures with smuggling gangs operating at a border crossing in southern Iraq.

Revival of smuggling

One student studying in Iran revealed details of cross-border smuggling between the two countries. While urging central security authorities to tighten their grip on border crossings between the two countries, he confirmed that security services facilitate most smuggling attempts through brokers and senior officers on both the Iraqi and Iranian sides.

"The phenomenon of student smuggling has recently increased significantly and has become a threat to Iraq's internal security because hundreds, if not thousands, of students are registered as Iraqi citizens living abroad, but they are inside Iraq. Therefore, if they commit any crime, they will not be caught," said the student who requested anonymity.

"Smuggling amounts range from $300 per person if they are with a group to $500 for a single person."

"The smuggling takes place at the Shalamaja border crossing in Basra governorate. The students' check out from Iraq and check in to Iran are registered through the said border crossing. They are received by a specialized team and returned to Iraqi territories from the back door of the border crossing," the student continued, "some are returned in Iraqi government vehicles, in case there is security personnel who reject this situation and are not complicit with smuggling groups, as such vehicles are not subject to inspection."

Cross-border smuggling sanctions..

"Iraq's Residency Act 76 of 2017 regulated cross-border smuggling penalties and dealt with almost all cases that were not addressed by pre-residence laws in Iraq," said legal expert Jamal al-Assadi.

"Article 38 of the Residence Act regulates the punishment imposed on the driver of a car or any means of transportation for persons who do not have the original approvals to enter Iraq as follows: The commander or official of any means of transportation shall be punished if a person enters or attempts to get into the Republic of Iraq, contrary to the provisions of this law, by imprisonment of not more than one year and a fine of at least 500,000 dinars and not more than one million dinars. Unless proven otherwise, the same applies to passengers using illegal transportation means into the Republic of Iraq."

"Article 39 of the Said Act also provides for the penalty imposed on any foreigner who enters Iraq without a fundamental consent by imprisonment of not more than one year, and a fine of at least 500,000 dinars and no more than one million dinars, or one of these penalties shall be imposed on any foreigner who entered the Republic of Iraq contrary to the provisions of this law or did not obey an order to deport him."

"Article 41 of the Law regulates the punishment imposed on anyone who helps smuggle others, whether Iraqi or foreign, with a one-year prison sentence and a fine of at least 100,000: (A fine of not more than 100,000 dinars and not more than 500,000 dinars, or one of these penalties for those who have violated the provisions of one of the articles (10), (14), (18) and (19) or helped others to commit this offense."

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