Whether an individual born in Kuwait of Iraqi citizens, who obtained Iraqi citizenship in 1991, is exempt from military service in Iraq [IRQ39509.E]

The Research Directorate found no evidence of a specific exemption granted to Iraqis of Kuwaiti birth among sources consulted. The Research Directorate found few recent documents that provided information in addition to IRQ27014.E of 18 June 1997 and IRQ29397.E of 15 May 1998, each concerning military service and exemptions.

According to a 1998 War Resisters' International publication, citing several documents dated 1991-1998 and published by government, non-governmental and international sources, Iraqi military service requires the following of Iraqi citizens:

In peacetime all men between the ages of 18 and 45 are liable for military service. In wartime the RCC [Revolutionary Command Council] may decide who is to be called up.
It is possible to get exempted from service by paying a sum of money. In 1998 this was believed to be 10,000 USD. It is not clear if this provision only applies to persons living abroad.
There are no other known provisions on exemptions. However, Saddam Hussein has ultimate power to grant exemptions. In May 1991, he exempted all young men born in 1961, 1962 and 1963 and in February 1993, all those born in 1968 got exempted.
Call-up for medical examination takes place at the age of 17. Usually young men receive a personal call-up notice, but young men of a certain age category may also be called up through the media.
Call-up for military service takes place at the age of 18. Conscripts initially serve for two to three months in a 'provisional barrack', after which they are assigned to another post. Assignment takes place according to the conscript's ability.

A United Nations document that included Iraqi delegate comments from June 1999 stated that while "military service is compulsory" the Military Service Act (No. 65) of 1969 provides exemptions from military service "for persons with special family circumstances or who are responsible for supporting their families" (UN 17 Dec. 1999)

A 2001 Iraqi television report that cited Foreign Minister Dr. Naji Sabri as its source, stated:

Leader President Saddam Husayn, God watch over him, has ordered that the Iraqis living abroad be relieved of the legal liability resulting from their failure to do the compulsory military service and the reserve service.
[D]uring a cabinet session held recently [President Hussein instructed] that ... Iraqis, who live abroad and are requested to perform their reserve service and have engagements that prevent them from returning to the country prior to the date set for joining the military service, be allowed to pay $1,000 [to exempt] them from performing their military service ... provided that they left the country prior to the call for enrollment in the military service.
[T]he foreign minister stressed that the president's order included [an exemption for] Iraqis living abroad [for] the crime of failure to perform the reserve service ... if they pay the required financial compensation or perform the reserve service. This will be valid for one year starting from the issuance time of the instructions... (Republic of Iraq Television 9 Nov. 2001).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Republic of Iraq Television [Baghdad, in Arabic]. 9 November 2001. "Iraq: Foreign Minister Cited on New 'Instructions' for Military Service." (FBIS-NES-2001-1109 9 Nov. 2001/WNC)

United Nations. Economic and Social Council. 17 December 1999. "Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Conscientious Objection to Military Service." (E/CN.4/2000.55) http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/(Symbol)/E.CN.4.2000.55.En?Opendocument [Accessed 18 June 2002]

War Resisters' International. 1998. Refusing to Bear Arms: A worldwide survey of conscription and conscientious objection to military service. "Iraq." http://www.wri-irg.org/co/rtba/index.html [Accessed 19 June 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases

Iraqi Citizenship Law (No. 43, 1963)


Senior Legal Specialist. Library of Congress. Information provided for an earlier response dated 15 January 2002.

Unsuccessful attempts to contact a representative of the Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa

Internet sites including:

Constitutional Monarchy Movement of Iraq

Danish Immigration Service

European Country of Origin Information Network

Find Law


Iraq Foundation

Permanent Mission of Iraq to the United Nations, New York

UK Immigration and Nationality Directorate Country Assessments


War Resisters International

World Law

World News Connection