Trafficking in Persons Report 2015 - Country Narratives - Morocco


Morocco is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Some rural Moroccan girls as young as 6 years old are recruited to work in domestic service in cities and become victims of forced labor, experiencing nonpayment of wages, threats, restrictions on movement, and physical, psychological, or sexual abuse; however, an NGO reported the incidence of child domestic work has decreased since 2005. Some Moroccan boys endure forced labor while employed as apprentices in the artisanal and construction industries and in mechanic shops. Some men, women, and children, primarily from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, enter Morocco voluntarily, but illegally, with the assistance of smugglers; upon arrival, some of the women and older girls are coerced into prostitution or, less frequently, domestic service. International organizations and local NGOs report unaccompanied children and women from Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor in Morocco. Some women from the Philippines and Indonesia are recruited for employment as domestic workers in Morocco; upon arrival, some are subjected to forced labor, experiencing nonpayment of wages, withholding of passports, and physical abuse at the hands of their employers. A local NGO noted in 2014 that the lack of a Philippine embassy or consulate in Morocco puts Philippine nationals, particularly domestic workers, at additional risk of trafficking and makes it more difficult for them to receive protection services. Criminal networks operating in Oujda, on the Algerian border, as well as in the northern coastal town of Nador, force undocumented foreign migrant women into prostitution and begging; these networks in Oujda also reportedly force children into begging. Some female migrants who transit Oujda, particularly Nigerians, are forced into prostitution once they reach Europe. In 2014, Morocco experienced a notable increase in the number of Syrian migrants and refugees, though no information about their vulnerability to trafficking in Morocco was available.

Moroccan men, women, and children are exploited in forced labor and sex trafficking primarily in Europe and the Middle East. Moroccan women are forced into prostitution primarily in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Libya, Syria, and in Europe; some of them experience restrictions on movement, threats, and emotional and physical abuse. Recruiters reportedly offer Moroccan men jobs in the Persian Gulf, but seize the victims’ passports and subject them to debt bondage after arrival. Some Moroccan men and boys, initially lured to Europe by fraudulent job offers, are subsequently forced to sell drugs. Some foreigners, particularly European nationals primarily from France and Spain, engage in child sex tourism in major Moroccan cities.

The Government of Morocco does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In the reporting period, the government moderately improved efforts to support civil society organizations that work with vulnerable migrant populations. It also developed a national anti-trafficking action plan to adopt anti-trafficking legislation. Moroccan law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking, and officials continued to conflate human trafficking, human smuggling, and illegal migration. The government reported on its modest efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking and trafficking-related crimes; however, it was unable to provide documentation of the convictions of trafficking offenders in 2014. For several years, the government has failed to proactively identify or provide protective services to trafficking victims among vulnerable populations. It made negligible efforts to screen for trafficking victims among irregular migrants, especially the sub-Saharan migrant community, and authorities continued to round up, arrest, detain, and deport foreign trafficking victims among this population.


Enact and implement legislation that prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes sufficiently stringent penalties for all forms of human trafficking, distinct from human smuggling; significantly increase investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of trafficking offenders, and ensure stringent sentencing; ensure victims are not punished for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking, such as immigration violations; proactively identify trafficking victims, especially among the foreign migrant community; develop and implement formal procedures for victim identification and subsequent referral to care; provide funding and in-kind support to NGOs that provide specialized services for trafficking victims, including foreign victims, and refer victims to these service providers; significantly improve law enforcement data collection and reporting, including the disaggregation of data between human trafficking and human smuggling crimes; and conduct public awareness campaigns addressing all forms of trafficking.


The government made modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Morocco lacks an anti-trafficking law, which remained a serious obstacle to successfully prosecuting human trafficking crimes and contributed to confusion among officials in differentiating human smuggling, illegal migration, and human trafficking offenses. Morocco’s penal code prohibits forced child labor through Article 467-2, which prescribes punishment of one to three years’ imprisonment. The penal code also prohibits forced prostitution and child prostitution through Articles 497-499, which prescribe punishment of up to 10 years’ or life imprisonment for crimes found to have occurred with aggravated circumstances. The penal code does not specifically define and penalize sex trafficking. Article 10 of Morocco’s labor code prohibits forced labor of a worker; this offense is punishable by a fine for the first offense and a jail term of up to three months for subsequent offenses. With the exception of the punishments for aggravated forced and child prostitution crimes, the penalties are generally insufficiently stringent. The government reported modest law enforcement efforts against potential sex trafficking crimes. The government reported multiple cases involving suspects allegedly engaged in the prostitution and sexual exploitation of children; however, without details on these cases, it was unclear whether they included trafficking offenses and if any trafficking offenders were brought to justice. The government reported it initiated the prosecution of 37 individuals employing children as domestic workers; however, it was unclear whether any of these cases amounted to forced labor. It also reported disbanding 19 human smuggling and trafficking networks in 2013 and 2014, but it did not provide details about efforts to investigate and prosecute criminal actions by such groups. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking. The government provided anti-trafficking training for 937 Royal Gendarmerie officials/border guards, as well as for other government ministries, NGOs, and journalists at one session held in November 2014.


The government’s efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims remained insufficient. In 2014, the government did not report attempting to identify or proactively identifying victims, including those within vulnerable populations such as irregular migrants and refugees encountered by officials through the government’s migrant regularization program. International organizations and NGOs, however, independently identified victims among these populations during the year. As part of its regularization program in 2014, the government issued residence permits and granted access to government services, such as education, health, and employment assistance, for irregular migrants and refugees. Nonetheless, there was no evidence of government services designed specifically to assist trafficking victims or funding allocations for this purpose. The government also did not report providing care for repatriated Moroccan trafficking victims. While the government made services available to women and child victims of violence, through its Ministry of Justice and child reception centers, it did not report on the use of these services by trafficking victims. The government relied heavily on NGOs and charitable organizations to provide protective services to victims, with limited funding or in-kind support. However, NGOs and international organizations reported having an active working relationship with local law enforcement officials, who reportedly referred cases of at-risk children—some of whom may be trafficking victims—to protection services. In addition, in 2014, the Ministry of Moroccans Resident Abroad and Migration Affairs announced it signed partnership agreements with 25 civil society organizations to provide urgent humanitarian services to vulnerable migrant populations, including potential trafficking victims. The government reportedly encouraged victims to provide testimony in the investigation against traffickers and Decree No. 1-11-164 provided greater protections to victims and witnesses that testify against traffickers; however, it did not provide evidence that any victims testified in 2014.

The government failed to protect trafficking victims from prosecution for crimes committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. NGOs, foreign embassies, and civil society groups reported that, although government raids on migrant communities in the north and refoulements to Algeria decreased in 2014, authorities continued to round up, arrest, detain, and deport illegal foreign migrants, including trafficking victims. Moroccan authorities did not make efforts to identify potential trafficking victims among those arrested and deported; rather, authorities often treated primarily male foreign victims as illegal migrants. Furthermore, in 2014, the media, international organizations, and civil society frequently reported violence—from forcible deportation to loss of life—against sub-Saharan migrants, including potential trafficking victims, at the hands of both Moroccan and Spanish authorities along the borders of the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta. The government provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of trafficking to countries where they might face retribution or hardship.


The government made some progress in preventing human trafficking. In December 2014, the government adopted a national strategy on migration and asylum, which included anti-trafficking measures. The government also developed a national anti-trafficking action plan, which included commitments to finalize and adopt an anti-trafficking law, develop victim protection measures, provide anti-trafficking training for officials, and invest in prevention campaigns. In 2014, the government did not hold anti-trafficking awareness campaigns; however, in coordination with an international organization, it began conducting a study of human trafficking in Morocco. While the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs conducted 312 labor inspections and identified hundreds of child laborers in the first quarter of 2014, inspectors did not identify trafficking victims among this group. Inspectors continued to be hindered by inadequate staffing and did not have the legal authority to enter homes, preventing them from identifying children or adults in domestic servitude. The government reported conducting an unknown number of inspections of private employment agencies that failed to follow employment regulations, but it did not provide information on the outcomes of such inspections. The government took measures to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts and child sex tourism through its “Integrated Public Policy for the Protection of Children,” which aims to improve the legal framework on child protection to include implementing criminal penalties for the sexual solicitation of children online and sexual tourism. In addition, the government continued to work with the tourism industry to prevent sexual exploitation of children. The government reportedly provided its diplomatic personnel human rights training, which included sections on labor law and human trafficking issues. The government provided training on the issue of sexual exploitation, but not specifically of human trafficking, to Moroccan soldiers prior to their deployment abroad on UN peacekeeping missions.