Last Updated: Monday, 28 July 2014, 16:37 GMT

2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Morocco

Publisher United States Department of Labor
Author Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Publication Date 29 April 2004
Cite as United States Department of Labor, 2003 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Morocco, 29 April 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48c8ca26c.html [accessed 29 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Morocco became a member of ILO-IPEC in 2000[2949] and launched its first program with ILO-IPEC in July 2001.[2950] In January 2003, the Government of Morocco signed a Letter of Agreement with the Government of the United States to collaborate on reducing child labor and providing education alternatives for children vulnerable to child labor.[2951] As a result, USDOL is supporting a USD 3 million project executed by Management Systems International that aims to eliminate the practice of selling and hiring child domestic workers and to create educational opportunities for child laborers and those vulnerable to child labor.[2952] In addition, USDOL provided USD 2 million to fund an ILO-IPEC child labor project in Morocco, which aims to strengthen national efforts against the worst forms of child labor in Morocco and to remove and prevent children from work in rural areas of the country.[2953] In March 2003, the Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs, and Solidarity collaborated with the ILO and Morocco's foremost public service association AFAK (or "Horizon"), to place a public service announcement in Morocco's leading newspapers urging Moroccans to unite in fighting child labor.[2954]

In October 1999, the Government of Morocco established national and sectoral action plans to combat child labor, especially its worst forms.[2955] The focus of the national plan includes improving implementation and raising awareness of child labor laws, and improving basic education.[2956] Sectoral plans target children in agriculture and herding, the industrial sector (carpets and stitching), metal and auto work, construction, the hospitality industry, and food production, as well as children working in informal sector.[2957] Between February 1998 and April 2001, the government held awareness raising campaigns for the general public conducted by labor, safety, and health inspectors,[2958] and in April 2001, inspectors began holding child labor awareness raising and training sessions for employers.[2959] In 2000, the government began a pilot program focusing on girls who work as domestic servants to provide them with education, health care, and recreation.[2960] In 2003 the government took a number of measures to address child labor by strengthening legal protections for children [see Child Labor Laws and Enforcement below] and by signing accords with artisans to define conditions of work for young persons.[2961]

The government has taken steps to improve the quality of primary education by reforming the curriculum, training and hiring more teachers, and assigning teachers to their hometowns to reduce absenteeism.[2962] The Ministry of National Education and Youth (MNEY) also runs programs for out-of-school children under its Non-Formal Education Program.[2963] In June 2003, MNEY announced that the government was increasing the number of schools and classrooms.[2964] In September 2003, the government initiated coursework in the Berber language within 317 primary schools serving primarily a Berber population, with plans to expand the program throughout the country by 2008 should it result in reduced drop-out rates among such children.[2965] The Government of Morocco continues to work with international organizations and local partners to increase school attendance. MNEY is implementing a World Bank-funded program to strengthen institutional capacity, improve teaching quality and build or rehabilitate rural schools.[2966] MNEY contracts with over 40 local NGOs to provide non-formal education.[2967] In cooperation with the Ministry of Health and with the support of UNICEF, MNEY is also pursuing a strategy to ensure basic education and healthcare for child workers.[2968]

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

According to the 2000 National Survey of Activity, Employment and Unemployment, approximately 3.4 percent of children in Morocco under the age of 15 were engaged in child labor.[2969] More than 85 percent of these children were in rural areas where 6.6 percent of boys under the age of 15 and 5.1 percent of girls are engaged in work.[2970] The majority of child labor is found in the agricultural sector.[2971] Boys and girls work as shepherds and are paid with cash or in kind.[2972] Children are also known to work as carpet weavers, metalworkers, mosaic-makers, mechanics, porters, tour guides, and street vendors.[2973] A 2001 study on street children found that they engage in diverse forms of work including selling cigarettes, begging, shining shoes, and other miscellaneous occupations.[2974] Additionally, children work as laborers in small family-run workshops that produce ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, and leather goods.[2975] Many children work as apprentices before they reach 12 years of age, particularly in the informal handicraft industry.[2976] In urban areas, girls can be found working as domestic servants, often in situations of unregulated "adoptive servitude."[2977] In these situations, girls from rural areas are trafficked, "sold" by their parents, and "adopted" by wealthy urban families to work in their homes.[2978] Girls and boys working as domestic servants and street vendors are increasingly targets of child sex tourism, particularly in the cities of Marrakech and Casablanca.[2979]

Education is free and compulsory for children ages 7 to 15 years as a result of a truancy-school attendance act adopted in January 2000.[2980] In 2000, the gross primary enrollment rate was 94.4 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 78.0 percent.[2981] Attendance rates are not available for Morocco. While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children's participation in school.[2982] Morocco has high dropout rates, particularly for rural girls who often do not complete primary school.[2983] The government does not enforce the compulsory education law consistently[2984] and, in 1999, an estimated 80 percent of working children were not in school.[2985]

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

Morocco has recently updated legislation relating to child labor. A new labor code was published in the Official Bulletin on December 8,2003 and will take effect on June 7, 2004.[2986] The new Labor Code raises the minimum age for employment from 12 to 15 years.[2987] The minimum age restriction applies to the industrial, commercial, and agricultural sectors and also extends to children working in apprenticeships and family enterprises.[2988] However, the new amendments do not apply to the informal sector or domestic service, where working children are particularly prevalent.[2989] According to the Labor Code, children under the age of 16 are prohibited from working more than 10 hours per day, including at least a 1-hour break.[2990] Children under the age of 18 are not permitted to work in hazardous occupations or at night between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in non-agricultural work.[2991] The law also sets limits on the weights that children may push, bear, or pull as part of their work, according to their age and gender.[2992]

The Labor Code prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children;[2993] however, there are reports that such practices occur.[2994] A law was enacted in 1993 for the protection of abandoned children in Morocco. According to this law, persons younger than 18 and unable to support themselves economically are identified as abandoned if their parents are unknown, unable to be located, or incompetent of assuming a parental role.[2995] There has been some concern that girls are being fostered at higher rates than boys, and that some girls are being adopted into circumstances equivalent to forced domestic servitude.[2996]

The prostitution of children, corruption of minors, and involvement of children in pornography are prohibited under the Criminal Code.[2997] Soliciting for the purposes of prostitution, as well as aiding, protecting, or profiting from the prostitution of others, are also banned by the Criminal Code.[2998] In December 2003 Parliament changed the Code to make child sexual abuse a crime and to increase penalties against those who hire children under age 18 for purposes of sexual exploitation. Under Criminal Code Article 497 (revised), anyone who incites a minor under age 18 to commit a vice or who contributes to the corruption of a minor is subject to a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years, and a fine of up to 200,000 dirhams (USD 21,739).[2999]

In 2003, the Moroccan Council of Ministers announced that it had adopted a law that will increase punishments against traffickers.[3000] There are several statutes under which traffickers can be prosecuted, including laws on kidnapping, forced prostitution, and coercion.[3001] Law enforcement agencies actively investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers.[3002]

The Ministry of Employment, Social Affairs, and Solidarity is responsible for implementing and enforcing child labor laws and regulations.[3003] The Labor Code provides for legal sanctions against employers who recruit children under the age of 15.[3004] Legal remedies to enforce child labor laws include criminal penalties, civil fines, and withdrawal or suspension of one or more civil, national, or family rights, including denial of residence for a period of 5 to 10 years.[3005] However, with only a small number of labor inspectors, limited investigative powers, limited awareness of the issue, and a lack of resources, the Ministry's application of these remedies is severely constrained.[3006] In addition, inspectors have no jurisdiction to monitor the working conditions of children working in the informal sector or in cottage industries.[3007] The work of child maids is particularly difficult to monitor because it falls outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Employment. Courts can take action once two witnesses file a complaint, but few employers of child maids have been prosecuted.[3008] In the few cases where legal sanctions for child labor violations are applied, they are generally insufficient to act as effective deterrents.[3009]

The Government of Morocco ratified ILO Convention 138 on January 6, 2000 and ILO Convention 182 on January 26, 2001.[3010]


[2949] ILO-IPEC, All About IPEC: Programme Countries, [online] [cited August 29, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/ipec/about/countries/t_country.htm.

[2950] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830, October 2002.

[2951] See Transcript of the Remarks of Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs, Thomas Moorhead, at the Morocco Education Initiative Letter of Agreement Signing Ceremony, January 8, 2003. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassifed telegram no. 0107, January 17, 2003. See extensive press coverage on the agreement cited in Public Affairs Section Media Relations Unit, U.S. Embassy Rabat, Morocco Daily Press Summary, "Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs, Thomas Moorhead," L'Opinion, Liberation, and Le Matin of January 10 (Rabat), 2003. , U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassifed telegram no. 0107.

[2952] USDOL, Letter of Agreement between the U.S. Department of Labor, the Moroccan Ministry of National Education, and the Moroccan Ministry of Employment, Vocational Training, Social Development and Solidarity Regarding the U.S. Department of Labor Child Labor Education Initiative, Washington, D.C., January 2003.

[2953] Media Relations Unit, "Deputy Under Secretary for International Labor Affairs, Thomas Moorhead." See also U.S. Embassy Morocco official, Electronic communication to USDOL official, March 19, 2003.

[2954] U.S. Embassy Morocco official, Electronic communication to USDOL official, March 19, 2003. See also U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 0397, March 28, 2003.

[2955] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157, October 2001. See also Kingdom of Morocco, Plans national et sectoriels d'action de la lutte contre le travail des enfants au Maroc, October 1999.

[2956] Kingdom of Morocco, Plans national et sectoriels d'action, 5-6.

[2957] Ibid., 10-35. The plan is based on a survey of working children in Morocco. See Kingdom of Morocco, Le travail des enfants au Maroc. Diagnostic et propositions de plan national et de plans sectoriels d'action, ILO, Rabat, October 1999.

[2958] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2959] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157.

[2960] Ibid.

[2961] For a detailed discussion see U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257, August 3, 2003.

[2962] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157. The teacher-student ratio is still high with 52.5 students per class in urban schools and 38.2 in rural schools. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2963] Kingdom of Morocco Ministry of National Education, Education non-formelle: L'école de la deuxième chance. Since its inception in 1997, the Ministry's non-formal education program has given remedial instruction to 164,076 children and is working to adapt the curriculm to make it more relevant to the needs of older students. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 0091, January 15, 2003, U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257. See also U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257.

[2964] U.S. Embassy Morocco official, Electronic communication to USDOL official, June 12, 2003. In 2003 the Ministry of Education planned to open 32 new primary schools and 50 junior highs. Another 380 schools are being built in poor neighborhoods. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257.

[2965] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, electronic communication to USDOL official, February 15, 2004. See also U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257.

[2966] World Bank, Documents and Reports: Morocco – Education Reform Support Project, project information document, PID10151, Rabat, March 6, 2001, [cited December 16, 2002]; available from http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDS_IBank_Servlet?pcont=details&eid=000094946_01041102152241.

[2967] Kingdom of Morocco, Ministry of National Education, Non-Formal Education Directorate, and Partnership Division, Liste des Associations Partenaires du M.E.N. dans le Programme d'Education Non-Formelle, Rabat, October 19, 2001.

[2968] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2000: Morocco, Washington, D.C., February 2001, Section 6d [cited October 16, 2003]; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/nea/index.cfm?docid=804.

[2969] Bureau of Statistics Government of Morocco, Emploi et Chomage – 2002, Casablanca, 2002.

[2970] Ibid.

[2971] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157. See also U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257. A Ministry of Finance and Planning labor force study by the Statistics Directorate concluded that nearly 9 out of 10 child workers are found in rural areas, and 84 percent of these are engaged in farm work. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2972] Girls also feed and milk animals, fetch water, and collect firewood. See International Working Washington File Group on Child Labour, Forgotten on the Pyjama Trail: A Case Study of Young Garment Workers in Méknès (Morocco) Dismissed from Their Jobs Following Foreign Media Attention, International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, 1998, 15.

[2973] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Morocco, Washington, D.C., March 31, 2003, Section 6d; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/index.htm. UNICEF estimates that 5,000 to 10,000 children work in the artisan carpet industry, and it is estimated that up to 3,000 are producing carpets for export. A Ministry of Employment and ILO-IPEC investigation found that 98 percent of children in this sector are 12 years old or younger. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2974] Kingdom of Morocco, Ministry in Charge of the Condition of Women, the Protection of the Family, Childhood, and the Integration of the Handicapped, Synthèse d'une étude preliminaire sur les enfants de la rue, Rabat, October 2001.

[2975] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Morocco. See also Nicolas Pelham, "Fine crafts from too-tiny hands. Morocco's new king launches jihad on rampant child labor," The Christian Science Monitor, January 11, 2001; available from http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2001/01/11/pls3.htm [hard copy on file]. See also International Working Washington File Group on Child Labour, Forgotten on the Pyjama Trail, 15.

[2976] A study of the artisan sector in the city of Fez found that 45 percent of workers were less than 15 years of age. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2000: Morocco, Section 6d. See also International Working Washington File Group on Child Labour, Forgotten on the Pyjama Trail, 15. See also U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2977] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Morocco, Section 5.

[2978] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157. See also U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Morocco, Washington, D.C., June 11, 2003; available from http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2003/21273.htm. A 2000 study by the Ministry of Planning funded by UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 13,000 girls under age 15 working as maids in Casablanca, while another put the total at 20,000 in other major Moroccan cities. See U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2001: Morocco, Washington, D.C., March 4, 2002, Section 5; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001/nea/8277.htm. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Morocco, Section 6d. UNICEF estimates the average age of all child maids was less than 11 years old and the Morocco Statistics Directorate estimates that child maids work on average 67 hours per week. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2979] The prostitution of boys is reportedly a growing problem in Morocco. See UNICEF, Profiting from Abuse: An investigation into the sexual exploitation of our children, New York, November 2001, 11; available from http://www.unicef.org/publications/pub_profiting_en.pdf. See also Dr. Najat M'jid, "Rapport sur la situation de l'exploitation sexuelle des enfants dans la région MENA" (paper presented at the Arab-African Forum against Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Rabat, Morocco, October 26, 2001); available from http://www.unicef.org/events/yokohama/backgound8.html#_edn1.

[2980] U.S. Embassy Morocco official, Electronic communication to USDOL official, March 8, 2004. See also U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257.

[2981] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2003 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2003.

[2982] For a more detailed discussion on the relationship between education statistics and work, see the preface to this report.

[2983] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830. See also U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1257.

[2984] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2985] Kingdom of Morocco, Plans national et sectoriels d'action, 3.

[2986] Law No. 65-99 relative to the Labor Code, (December 8, 2003), as cited in the Bulletin Officiel.

[2987] Ibid., Article 143.

[2988] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Morocco, Section 6d.

[2989] ILO, UNICEF, and World Bank, Understanding Children's Work in Morocco, prepared by Inter-Agency Research Cooperation Initiative, March 2003, 38; available from http://www.ucw-project.org/pdf/publications/report_morocco_draft.pdf.

[2990] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157.

[2991] Hazardous work includes work that involves operating heavy machinery and exposure to toxic materials or emissions. Ibid. Children are also prohibited from performing night work in agriculture between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. See Labor Code, Article 172.

[2992] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157.

[2993] Labor Code. The work of child maids is difficult to monitor because it falls outside the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labor. Courts can take action once two witnesses file a complaint, but few employers of child maids have been prosecuted. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[2994] U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Morocco, Section 6c.

[2995] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Summary Record of the 882nd Meeting, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties (continued): Second Periodic Report of Morocco (continued), CRC/C/SR/.882, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, July 16, 2003, paras. 18-19; available from http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/8e3b9ac683d8dd0ac1256d7a004a2b52/$FILE/G0342258.pdf.

[2996] Ibid., para. 43.

[2997] Criminal Code of Morocco, as cited in The Protection Project Legal Library, [database online] [cited November 10, 2003]; available from http://209.190.246.239/protectionproject/statutesPDF/MOROCCO.pdf.

[2998] The Protection Project, "Morocco," in Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children: A Country-by-Country Report on a Contemporary Form of Slavery Washington, D.C., 2002; available from http://www.protectionproject.org/main1.htm.

[2999] See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 0077, January 8, 2004. The same penalties apply in cases where an attempt was made to commit such offenses or when part of the offense was committed outside Morocco. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, electronic communication to USDOL official, March 25, 2004.

[3000] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Morocco. This law went into effect on November 20, 2003 as Law 02-03. See U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 0066, December 30, 2003.

[3001] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Morocco. According to Articles 472-478 of the Penal Code, any person who uses violence, threats, or fraud to abduct (or attempt to abduct) a minor under 18 years of age, or facilitate the abduction of a minor may be imprisoned for up to 5 to 10 years. If the minor is under the age of 12, the sentence is doubled, from 10 to 20 years. See UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties: Morocco, Second periodic reports of States parties due in 2000, CRC/C/93/Add.3, pursuant to Article 44 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, February 12, 2003, para. 665.

[3002] U.S. Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report – 2003: Morocco.

[3003] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports – 2002: Morocco, Section 6d.

[3004] Employers who hire children under age 15 may be punished with a fine of 25,000 to 30,000 dirhams (USD 2,759 to 3,311). See Labor Code, Article 151. In the past, legal penalties were only applied in cases in which child workers had lodged a complaint of abuse or maltreatment against an employer. See ILO, UNICEF, and World Bank, Understanding Children's Work, 38.

[3005] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports: Morocco, para. 647.

[3006] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1157.

[3007] ILO, UNICEF, and World Bank, Understanding Children's Work, 38.

[3008] U.S. Consulate-Casablanca, unclassified telegram no. 1830.

[3009] ILO, UNICEF, and World Bank, Understanding Children's Work, 38.

[3010] ILO, Ratifications by Country, in ILOLEX, [database online] [cited October 22, 2003]; available from http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/newratframeE.htm.

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