Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 April 2014, 10:56 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Morocco

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Morocco, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee5d5.html [accessed 23 April 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.

Morocco (Tier 2)

Morocco is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Children are trafficked within the country from rural areas to urban centers to work as maids, laborers, or beggars, or in prostitution. Moroccan girls as young as 6 or 7 years old from rural areas are recruited to work as child maids in cities, but often experience conditions of forced labor, such as nonpayment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement. Moroccan boys experience forced labor as apprentices in the artisan and construction industries and in mechanic shops.

Men, women, and an increasing number of children from sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Philippines enter Morocco voluntarily but illegally with the assistance of smugglers; once in Morocco, some of the women and older girls are coerced into prostitution or, less frequently, forced into domestic service. Most sub-Saharan African migrants reach Oujda, Morocco, generally via Algeria. Some migrant females are forced to become pregnant and beg in Oujda, as a pregnant woman or a woman with a baby is less likely to be deported; the traffickers are the "chairmen", or leaders, of tranquilos, which are abandoned dwellings where groups of the Sub-Saharan diaspora have taken residence, organized by tribe or nationality. Some of the female migrants in Oujda are subsequently forced into prostitution once they reach Europe. Sometimes, female migrants are transported to tranquilos in other cities, including Casablanca and then sold into prostitution networks. There is some domestic sex tourism in Morocco with sub-Saharan African victims in major cities. Trafficking and smuggling are organized in the country of departure, often with the assistance of family members, and some networks in Africa have linkages in Europe. Most female sex trafficking victims are Nigerian. Filipina women are increasingly working as maids in Morocco, with confiscated identity documents; this is one indication of domestic servitude.

Moroccan men, women, and children are exploited for forced labor and sex trafficking in European and Middle Eastern countries. Moroccan women are forced into prostitution in Gulf States (including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) Jordan, Libya, Syria, and European countries; some of them experience restrictions on movement, threats, and emotional and physical abuse. Some Moroccan men reportedly are promised jobs in the Gulf but experience confiscation of their passports and are coerced into debt bondage after arrival. A few Moroccan men and boys are lured to Europe by fraudulent job offers and are subsequently forced to sell drugs.

The Government of Morocco does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government convicted one person who subjected a 12-year-old child domestic servant to forced labor, and continued offering protective services to Moroccan children who may have been trafficked. However, the government continued to lack overall progress in the following areas: convicting and adequately punishing trafficking offenders; proactively identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable groups; and ensuring that foreign trafficking victims are not subject to arrest and deportation. The government is not addressing the forced prostitution and forced labor of undocumented migrants in Morocco, and continues to conflate migrant smuggling with human trafficking.

Recommendations for Morocco: Draft and enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that increases prescribed penalties for forced labor; significantly increase prosecutions and convictions of trafficking offenders, including convictions with more stringent penalties; institute a victim identification mechanism; ensure that identified victims are not punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; encourage victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers, including by offering relief from deportation; initiate law enforcement activities with destination countries to prosecute those who force Moroccans into labor and prostitution overseas; improve Child Protection Units by providing more human resources, improving management, and collaborating with various ministries; train judges on the characteristics of all forms of human trafficking; improve data collection and reporting, including the disaggregation of data between human trafficking and people smuggling; ensure that potential trafficking victims do not suffer physical abuse at the hands of Moroccan police; conduct public awareness campaigns, encompassing child sex tourism; and heed the recommendations of the IOM and UNHCR's 2010 report on human trafficking in Morocco.

Prosecution

The Government of Morocco made little progress in investigating trafficking offenses and punishing trafficking offenders during the reporting period. There is no comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Its Penal Code prohibits forced child labor through Article 467, and forced prostitution and child prostitution through Articles 497-499. Penalties prescribed by these various statutes for sex trafficking offenses are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. In contrast, penalties prescribed for labor trafficking offenses do not appear to be sufficiently stringent; penalties for child labor under Article 467 range from one to three years' imprisonment.

In a well-publicized case, a 12-year-old child was found wandering the streets of Casablanca after escaping from a year of abuse and torture in domestic servitude, including bites, burns on her genitals, lacerations, and beatings. In August 2010, a court sentenced the perpetrator – a mother with two children – to one year of imprisonment and an approximate $60 fine for aggravated assault and abuse of a child. Additionally, the Ministry of Justice reported that it convicted seven individuals for exploitation of children in begging and 80 individuals (including "clients") for facilitating child prostitution in 2009 (the most recent year in which data was available); this is in comparison to the prosecution of 138 individuals for exploitation of a child for begging and 203 individuals for facilitating the prostitution of a child in 2008. It is unclear, however, how many, if any, of these prosecutions involved human trafficking offenses. The government did not report sentencing information. The government reported that it broke up 96 trafficking or smuggling "rings" in 2010, compared with 130 rings in 2009. However, the government made no distinction between migrant smuggling and trafficking, so it was unclear how many, if any, of these actions truly involved human trafficking. The Ministry of Social Development, Family, and Solidarity and the Ministry of Employment and Professional Training submitted two separate draft laws to the Secretary General of the government for consideration in early 2010 which address the issue of child domestic workers. The first bill would criminalize the employment of child domestic workers with high fines and prison sentences, criminalizing the family that employs the child, but also the family that sends the child, and any neighbors aware of the crime. The second bill would extend labor code coverage to all domestic workers, and would empower labor inspectors to enforce child labor laws in private residences. Neither bill has been introduced into Parliament.

The government provided a variety of trafficking training to law enforcement and judicial officials. For instance, judges and public prosecutors received trafficking-specific training during their initial training period. One government official noted that a reason for low levels of prosecutions is because judges are not well informed about human trafficking. There is no evidence of national government complicity in human trafficking, though some Moroccan policemen reportedly are directly involved in smuggling networks.

Protection

While the government continued to make some progress in protecting Moroccan child victims of trafficking found within the country, it made little efforts to protect Moroccan victims overseas and continued to treat foreign victims in Morocco poorly. Law enforcement personnel did not employ procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among high-risk persons with whom they came in contact, nor did it have a referral process to transfer identified trafficking victims to protective services. Undocumented foreign trafficking victims were treated as undocumented migrants, and therefore arrested, detained, and deported. These detained migrants, some of whom may have been trafficking victims, were usually left at the Algerian border, often without food or water, and were susceptible to being robbed, assaulted, and sexually abused by criminal gangs that operate in the area. There were no government-operated protective services for foreign trafficking victims, and civil society groups were prohibited from operating any such shelters because they would be considered to be harboring undocumented migrants. The government did not offer legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of trafficking to countries where they might face retribution or hardship. Morocco did not encourage victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers. Sub-Saharan African women who are forced into prostitution in Morocco were not likely to report crimes for fear of being treated as undocumented migrants and deported. The government disbursed approximately $187,500 to 10 NGOs that worked against child labor in fiscal year 2010, compared to $125,000 in fiscal year 2009. Some of these NGOs provided protective services to trafficking victims. Two government-operated Child Protection Units, an emergency telephone hotline, a mobile assistance program, and "women and children" focal points continued to assist vulnerable women and children in major cities in Morocco; the extent to which these entities helped trafficking victims, if at all, was not reported. The government did not provide medical and psychological care for undocumented migrants.

Prevention

The Moroccan government made few efforts to prevent human trafficking over the last year. The government did not undertake campaigns to raise awareness about human trafficking. An inter-ministerial group on trafficking met on a quarterly basis during the reporting period. Authorities made no discernible effort to raise public awareness of child prostitution and sex trafficking of women and did not take any reported measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The Moroccan government provided birth certificates for all nationals, including children in isolated rural areas, and issued national identity cards for all citizens on their 18th birthday. The Moroccan government provided training on the issue of sex trafficking to Moroccan soldiers prior to their deployment abroad on UN peacekeeping missions. There has been no indication that the Moroccan government has implemented the legislative and policy recommendations enshrined in the IOM and UNHCR report on transnational human trafficking, which the government validated last year, as noted in the 2010 TIP Report. Morocco is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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