85 is the number of cases relating to human trafficking recorded in 2021, at the level of all the courts of the country, an increase of 8% compared to 2020 (79 cases), indicates the annual report of the ministry. public, recently published. An increase that fits perfectly into a significant upward trend in the number of victims of human trafficking in Morocco over the past three years.
In detail, this document revealed that the General Prosecutor’s Office received 49 complaints concerning adults and minors. These complaints were filed by the persons concerned, their relatives or via civil society. However, only 30 complaints were prosecuted, 7 were closed and 12 were referred to specialized jurisdictions. It should be noted that 64 cases took place on national territory and 21 were conducted cross-border. Concerning the persons prosecuted, they were 127 in number (76% men and 24% women) of which 117 are Moroccan and 10 foreign. The social situation of these people, in particular their level of education and their professional activity, shows that 74% of them have followed only an elementary education or are not educated. And 54% have no fixed profession. With regard to acts subject to prosecution, the report of the Public Prosecutor’s Office indicated that acts of mediation represent 43% of the total, followed by attraction (30%) and accommodation (10%). Acts related to receiving victims and transporting them represent respectively 9% and 5%. Recruitment, meanwhile, represents 3%. The authors of the report note that attraction and mediation remain the means most used with victims who live in a situation of vulnerability and social precariousness. These victims are often exploited in prostitution. Regarding this crime, the prosecution noted that the persons prosecuted used threat, force or their use (9.22%), coercion (2.13%), kidnapping (2.84%) , fraud (2.84%), fraud (17.02%), abuse of power (1.42%), exploitation of weakness (36.88%), giving or receiving money or other benefits (27.66%). These means are aimed at sexual exploitation, forced labour, servitude and practices related to slavery.
In 2021, there was a census of 165 victims (100 adults and 65 minors), knowing that women remain the most confronted with this type of crime. There are 100 female victims against 65 males. A large number of these women are of Moroccan nationality, while only two are foreign. It should be noted that female minors represent a significant rate of the number of victims exceeding that of adults (women and men). The report indicates that most of the victims are unemployed (144 victims) and only 21 of them work in the private sector while 63% of them are not educated or have an elementary level. What about the relationship between the suspect and the victim? Often, this relationship is family or professional, hence the difficulty of discovering and proving it. The 2021 statistics show the existence of 37 victims in relation to the suspect (one of the parents or guardian, one of the victim’s children, the spouse or fiancé or ex-spouse, brother or sister , uncle, employer, trainer, teacher or instructor) .
For some observers, these figures should be taken with some caution given that experience has shown the need to modify the legal framework relating to the crime of trafficking in human beings due to the complexity of this concept and the difficulty of understanding it. be appropriated in particular by the bodies responsible for enforcing the law. Indeed, this term is often confused with that of human trafficking, to such an extent that the Court of Cassation annulled some thirty decisions rendered by the courts of first instance concerning crimes of trafficking in human beings, for lack of clarity concerning the constituent elements of these crimes as well as their forms. Among the challenges and constraints that hinder the smooth application of the law on combating the crime of human trafficking, there is also the difficulty of identifying the victims, to whom little importance is given when processing complaints. Indeed, some prosecutors “are happy” to hear only “the person who filed the complaint or those who were identified during the investigation”. Especially since the arrest of the perpetrators of this crime becomes more difficult when it is cross-border and committed by organized networks active in different countries. It should be added that the lack of awareness among the victims of trafficking and their fear of legal proceedings in the event of reporting certain forms of aggression, such as sexual aggression or exploitation in the circuits of prostitution and begging, also hamper the work of law enforcement agencies. Pitfalls recognized by the Public Prosecutor’s Office itself, which noted in a note dated July 3, 2018 that “victims are prosecuted for offenses such as sex outside marriage or prostitution, when in reality they have committed subject of crimes of trafficking in human beings”.
A US State Department report on human trafficking published in 2018 stated that “the Moroccan government does not meet the minimum standards in the fight against human trafficking despite the notable efforts it has made and the increasing number of investigations and cases of prosecution under the law 27-14 relating to the fight against trafficking in human beings”. The drafters of the said document considered that despite the implementation of an interministerial system for coordinating policies and programs to combat human trafficking and the creation of a specialized unit, the fact remains that the Moroccan government has done nothing in terms of setting up and funding protection services for victims of this trafficking as well as in terms of identifying and tracing victims, particularly among irregular migrants who remain very vulnerable to trafficking in Morocco, says the report, stressing that our country has remained, over the past five years, a source, a destination and a country of transit for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking as is the case of certain sub-Saharan women in an irregular administrative situation or Asian servants forced into prostitution and forced labor or the case of men, women Moroccan women and children who are forcibly exploited, mainly in Europe and the Middle East.
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Deplorable increase in the number of human trafficking cases
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