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. Some Moroccan girls as young as six or seven years old from rural areas are recruited to work as child maids in cities and often experience conditions of forced labor, such as nonpayment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement; however, due to greater sensitization of the issue, the incidence of child maids has decreased dramatically from 1999 to 2010. Some 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 primarily from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia 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. Some female migrants in Oujda, particularly Nigerians, were forced into prostitution once they reached Europe. Sometimes, female migrants are transported to other cities, including Casablanca, and then sold into prostitution networks. There is some sex tourism by foreigners in major cities in Morocco.

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 efforts to do so. The government continued offering protective services to Moroccan children and adults who may have been trafficked, though it failed to make overall progress in convicting and adequately punishing trafficking offenders, proactively identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, or ensuring that adult male foreign trafficking victims are not subject to arrest and deportation. Moreover, the government did not address the forced prostitution and forced labor of undocumented migrants in Morocco, and continues to conflate migrant smuggling with human trafficking. Despite repeated recommendations in this Report, the Moroccan government has not developed an effective system to collect and report anti-trafficking law enforcement data, which continues to prevent the government from providing trafficking-related investigation, prosecution, conviction, and sentence information in a timely manner.

Recommendations for Morocco: Draft and enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking and increases prescribed penalties for forced labor; enact draft legislation addressing domestic workers, and fully implement Decree no. 1-11-164 concerning the protection of crime victims and witnesses; significantly increase investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking offenders, including convictions with more stringent penalties, for all forms of trafficking; 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; continue to train judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement 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; and conduct public awareness campaigns, addressing all forms of trafficking and encompassing child sex tourism.


The Government of Morocco made little progress in its law enforcement response to human trafficking during the reporting period. Morocco lacks a single comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Morocco's penal code prohibits forced child labor through Article 467, and forced prostitution and child prostitution through articles 497-499; Article 10 of Morocco's labor code prohibits forced labor of a worker. 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. The government's most recent statistics from 2011 are not specific to trafficking, but rather cover a wide array of offenses that may include human trafficking. The government reported there were 38 cases of exploitation of children to beg, 10 cases of exploitation of children related to drugs, and 55 cases of facilitating the prostitution of a minor. It is unclear, however, how many of these cases constituted human trafficking offenses. The government did not report sentencing information. Despite repeated recommendations, the government has not developed an effective system to collect and report anti-trafficking law enforcement data, which continues to prevent the government from providing trafficking investigation, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing information in a timely manner.

The government continued to provide and fund a variety of trafficking training to law enforcement and judicial officials in 2011. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) provided anti-trafficking training for 1,000 judges, 170 court clerks, and 88 social assistants. In October 2011, MOJ and UNHCR organized a training session in Tangier for judges, police officers, gendarmerie and civil society members on national and international law related to human trafficking. The Ministry of Interior also reported that territorial police, border security officials, Royal Gendarmerie, and the Auxiliary Forces received training programs that include modules on human trafficking.


The Moroccan government demonstrated minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking over the past year. It did not develop or employ systematic procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking, and it continues to show weak efforts in identifying victims of all forms of trafficking, though it continued to refer victims to NGO-provided services. The government is also limited in its ability to provide sufficient staffing and funding resources to address human trafficking. The Ministry of Employment and Professional Development (MOEPT) employed 463 labor inspectors for the entire country, and 45 of the total 51 labor inspectorates in the country are trained and designated to child labor cases. The inspectors were hindered by minimal staffing and did not have the legal authority to enter homes, preventing them from investigating and identifying instances of child labor or child trafficking in domestic service situations. The government continued to make some progress in protecting child victims of violence found within the country, some of whom may be victims of trafficking, through its 75 "children reception centers" and three child safety centers for girls; however, it is unknown how many of the child victims receiving services at these centers were trafficking victims. The government made minimal efforts to protect Moroccan victims overseas, though the government reportedly provided assistance with travel documents and transportation home in 2011. Undocumented foreign trafficking victims were often treated as undocumented migrants, and reports from NGOs state that some victims have been arrested, detained, and deported. Undocumented migrants who arrived from Algeria were usually deported back to the Algerian border, reportedly often without food or water, and were susceptible to being robbed, assaulted, and sexually abused by criminal gangs that operate in the area. The government did not provide or fund protective services for foreign trafficking victims.

The government did not offer legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of trafficking to countries where they might face retribution or hardship. The government did not report if it encouraged victims to participate in investigations against traffickers. Sub-Saharan African women who were forced into prostitution in Morocco were unlikely to report crimes for fear of being treated as undocumented migrants and deported, though in reality, undocumented migrant women were rarely deported. Undocumented migrants have access to basic medical care at public health institutions.


The Moroccan government made few efforts to prevent human trafficking over the last year. The government did not undertake campaigns to raise public awareness about human trafficking. Most child labor prevention programs focus on providing financial support and education to targeted families to ensure that children stay in school. In 2011, the MOEPT allocated the equivalent of $187,500 to child labor prevention programs conducted by Moroccan NGOs focusing on awareness-raising and rescuing children. 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 government reported in 2011 that labor inspectors visited 383 enterprises on potential incidents of child labor, filed 1,234 reports, issued 63 formal notices of warning, and imposed nine fines. Through these visits, inspectors identified and addressed cases of 119 child workers under the age of 15 years old and 397 child workers between the ages of 15 to 18; the government provided no information on possible assistance to the children. An inter-ministerial committee on coordination for trafficking issues comprised of representatives from multiple ministries did not meet formally during the reporting period. Authorities made no discernible efforts 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 training on the issue of sex trafficking to Moroccan soldiers prior to their deployment abroad on UN peacekeeping missions. The Moroccan government has not implemented the legislative and policy recommendations enshrined in the IOM and UNHCR report on transnational human trafficking. Morocco ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol in April 2011.


This 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.