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Morocco Faces Human Trafficking Crisis

Sunday, 30 June 2013 17:32 // 1528
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By Siham Ali

Morocco needs tougher laws to combat human trafficking, a United Nations envoy warns.

Upon invitation of the government, United Nations Special Rapporteur Joy Ngozi Ezeilo just visited Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier to assess the magnitude of the problem in the kingdom.

“Morocco faces considerable challenges as a source, transit and increasingly as a destination country for trafficking in persons,” the UN News Centre quoted the official as saying on Tuesday (June 25th).

[AFP/Ted Aljibe] Morocco must implement laws to stem the illegal migrant tide and assist trafficked persons, United Nations official Joy Ngozi Ezeilo said in Rabat on June 21st.

[AFP/Ted Aljibe] Morocco must implement laws to stem the illegal migrant tide and assist trafficked persons, United Nations official Joy Ngozi Ezeilo said in Rabat on June 21st.

The numbers are staggering. An estimated 25,000 migrants from sub-Saharan countries were in Morocco in 2012 hoping to reach Europe through Spain, AFP reported on June 21st.

According to Abdelfettah Belamchi, head of the Moroccan Centre for Development and Parallel Diplomacy (CMDPDC), the overlapping interests of illegal immigration networks, al-Qaeda and its allies, and drug smuggling gangs is a real concern for Morocco, since it is a key departure point for Europe-bound African migrants.

And the conditions of lawlessness and chaos that have defined the Sahel region over the past decades have only allowed the problem to grow.

“There are no clear boundaries,” Belamchi says. “The same group that helps smuggle illegal immigrants by penetrating the border will smuggle goods across the same border and use the same networks. Their interests overlap with terrorist groups that are flourishing in the region.”

Law enforcement is critical to solving the crisis, experts say. The visiting UN official urged specialised training for officials and police officers to identify not just perpetrators but also victims of trafficking.

While noting progress in the fight against human trafficking in Morocco, Ezeilo said lawmakers still needed to do more.

“Trafficking in persons is a form of modern-day slavery, which affects all countries in the world, including Morocco,” Ezeilo said last Thursday in Rabat.

The Morocco domestic labour law adopted last month should add anti-human trafficking measures, she added.

But Mahjoub El Hiba, the inter-ministerial delegate for human rights, said that the Moroccan anti-human trafficking strategy already included steps to protect people and dismantle criminal networks.

The government is also confronting illegal immigration and human trafficking by monitoring the borders, Minister-Delegate for Foreign Affairs Youssef Amrani said.

And the entire Euro-Med region must take action to stem the tide.

“Countries of origin, transit countries and destination countries must all play their part in this approach,” he said.

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Last modified on Monday, 27 January 2014 17:52
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