[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

MOROCCO (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Morocco is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked within the country from rural areas to urban centers to work as maids or laborers, or for exploitation in the sex trade. Men, women, and children are trafficked to European and Middle Eastern countries as illegal migrants who become exploited for forced labor and prostitution. Young Moroccan girls from rural areas are recruited to work as child maids in cities, but often face restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Moroccan boys experience involuntary servitude as apprentices in the artisan and construction industries and in mechanic shops. Transnational human trafficking in Morocco is associated with people smuggling and drug trafficking. Some Moroccan women are trafficked to Gulf States, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Cyprus, and European countries for commercial sexual exploitation. There were reports of Moroccan men who were promised jobs in the Gulf; upon arrival their passports were confiscated and they were forced into debt bondage. Men lured to Italy with job offers were forced to sell drugs. In addition, men and women 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 are coerced into commercial sexual exploitation.

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 did not take adequate steps to collect data on trafficking, identify victims, increase overall law enforcement efforts to investigate, convict, or punish traffickers, or provide adequate protection for victims of trafficking, who were often detained and subject to deportation. Moroccan authorities, however, moved to engage international organizations to conduct a first baseline assessment of human trafficking in the country, which is expected to be completed in 2009.

Recommendations for Morocco: Enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that increases prescribed penalties for forced labor; significantly increase prosecutions of trafficking offenders; collect data on incidence of trafficking (as distinct from smuggling); institute a victim identification mechanism; ensure that victims are not punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; and conduct public awareness campaigns, encompassing child sex tourism.

The Government of Morocco made inadequate efforts to investigate trafficking offenses and punish trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Morocco appears to prohibit all forms of trafficking. Its Penal Code prohibits forced child labor through Article 467, forced labor through Article 10, and forced prostitution and prostitution of a minor through Articles 497-499. The Government of Morocco reports that it also employs the Immigration Law of 2003 and other statutes, such as those prohibiting kidnapping, fraud, and coercion, to prosecute trafficking offenses. Penalties prescribed by these various statutes for sex trafficking offenses are sufficiently stringent, and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. In contrast, prescribed penalties for labor trafficking appear not to be sufficiently stringent; penalties for child labor under Article 467 range from one to three years’ imprisonment, while general penalties for forced labor under Article 10 are limited to fines for first-time offenders or six days’ to three months’ imprisonment for repeat offenders. Authorities claim they dismantled 220 trafficking or smuggling rings in 2008; however, the government made no distinction between migrant smuggling and trafficking, so it was unclear how many were truly human trafficking rings. Authorities reported prosecuting 42 individuals for exploiting children trafficked for the purpose of domestic servitude under trafficking-related statutes during the reporting period. In 2008, the government also prosecuted 200 individuals for “inciting” children into prostitution or sexually abusing children; some of these prosecutions likely involve trafficking offenses. The government did not report the number of individuals convicted or punished for trafficking offenses in 2008. The government offered anti-trafficking training to judges, prosecutors, the territorial police, and border security officials.

Morocco made insufficient progress in protecting victims of trafficking over the last year. Foreign trafficking victims are often treated as illegal migrants, subject to arrest and deportation. Government officials continued to round up illegal sub-Saharan migrants -- failing to make efforts to identify trafficking victims among them -- and left them at the Algerian border, often without food or water; there were reports that some were robbed, assaulted, and sexually abused by criminal gangs that operate in the area. The government did not offer legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of trafficking to countries where they might face retribution. Morocco does not encourage victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers, although some victims reportedly testify during prosecutions. Reports from NGOs indicate that some potential trafficking victims suffered physical abuse at the hands of Moroccan police. NGOs provided most services to domestic victims of trafficking. Government-operated centers in Casablanca and Marrakech offered assistance to street children and other victims of violence, abuse, and sexual exploitation, including victims of trafficking. Also, during the reporting period, Moroccan diplomatic missions provided assistance with passports and transportation home to Moroccan women trafficked to Middle Eastern countries for commercial sexual exploitation.

The government periodically undertook awareness-raising campaigns related to the abuse of children, child labor, and sexual exploitation during the year. The 2006-2015 National Plan for Action for Children includes the goal of protecting children from abuse, violence, and exploitation; in part by reducing the incidence of child labor. Authorities did not make significant efforts to raise public awareness of the commercial sexual exploitation of children and women, especially in tourist areas, and did not take any reported measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts.

The government fully supported UN efforts to investigate accusations that Moroccan peacekeepers in Côte d’Ivoire sexually abused underage girls. An inquiry team consisting of UN investigators and Moroccan army officers was unable to find any conclusive evidence of abuse. An investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight was ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The government provided Moroccan soldiers participating in UN peacekeeping missions with training on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse. Morocco has not ratified the UN TIP Protocol.