Morocco spells out strategy to counter human trafficking

Over 700 victims of human trafficking estimated over the past three years.

Tuesday 04/08/2020
Representatives of NGOs give a joint press conference to submit a report on Morocco’s new policy on migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa in the capital Rabat. (AFP)
Representatives of NGOs give a joint press conference to submit a report on Morocco’s new policy on migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa in the capital Rabat. (AFP)

RABAT – To mark World Day against Trafficking in Persons, Morocco pledged to crack down on this dangerous crime, warning that urgent action is needed, including a non-selective modernist national approach.

“This strategy will highlight the efforts and contributions of those on the front lines to help fight human trafficking and to perpetuate a national tradition to honour all those who work to counter this violation of human rights,” said Amina Bouayach, president of the National Human Rights Council.

In recent years, Morocco has passed a set of laws to counter human trafficking and it is continuing to battle the issue, which extends from exploitation of children to the smuggling of migrants.

“The magnitude of the phenomenon, its expansion and spread at the international level compel all sectors and organisations to set quality and precise standards and to seek good practices in leading countries to combat it,” said Justice Minister Mohamed Benabdelkader.

According to data from the National Commission for the Coordination of Measures to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Persons, human trafficking cases went up in Morocco from 17 in 2017 to 80 in 2018. The number doubled to 151 in 2019.

“With regard to persons who have been prosecuted in the last three years, 585 individuals, including 144 women and 84 foreigners, have been indicted,” Benabdelkader said.

Given the extent of the problem, Morocco needs “a series of measures based, among others, on the establishment of a national referral mechanism for victims of human trafficking similar to that of leading countries in the fight against this crime, appropriate diagnosis and assessment that reflects the scale of the phenomenon, the development of a comprehensive national strategy and model national legislation that meets international standards and best practices,” Benabdelkader said.

There were over 700 victims of human trafficking over the past three years, 283 of whom were victims of sexual exploitation, 58 of whom were forced into begging and 35 of whom were forced into servitude. National search warrants issued against suspects in these cases amounted to 137, with 443 people taken into custody.

Bouayach emphasised the need to spread awareness about this modern form of slavery, especially given the lack of reporting for cases of sexual exploitation (particularly targeting women and children), forced marriage and other forms of trafficking.

Ana Fonseca, head of the International Organisation for Migration in Morocco, praised Morocco’s efforts to combat human trafficking through concrete initiatives in recent years, in particular the adoption of a national strategy for migration and asylum, the ratification of the law criminalising human trafficking and the creation of a national committee to focus on the issue.

“These efforts confirm that Morocco deals seriously with the phenomenon of human trafficking,” Fonseca said, noting that “this crime that left thousands of victims in the world requires cooperation and coordination between countries.”

Morocco worked to strengthen its national legislation by issuing a law to combat human trafficking on August 25, 2016. This law defined the crime as stipulated in the UN protocol in order to prevent and punish human trafficking, especially of women and children.