For our first global North-South conversation, we were privileged to speak with Dr. Ali Zoubeidi, a senior consultant for social policies and interventions in the smuggling of migrants, who spoke on the issue of human trafficking in Morocco. This is the first of many conversations in an ongoing series emphasizing global issues through north-south dialogues in the shape of interviews. As a part of this series, we aim to highlight scholars and experts from the global south to strengthen south-south and south-north discourse on important issues relating to violent conflict, extremism, gender, and human rights among other things. As a part of our mission at Transformative Peace, we see this as an important part of cultivating better approaches to conflicts and crises. Approaches that are inclusive, human rights-centric, and informed by diverse perspectives. Consequently, this series serves to elevate the voices of the global south in a predominantly western-centric media environment. Please enjoy our first of such conversations with Dr. Ali Zoubeidi:
1. What kind of framework does the Moroccan government apply to human trafficking?
Human trafficking is a complex and multifaceted problem that involves the exploitation of human beings for profit in all regions. The main causes of human trafficking are poverty, lack of education, armed conflicts, natural disasters, discrimination, and economic and social inequalities. Victims of human trafficking are often women, girls and children.
The Moroccan government employs a mixed framework when addressing issues related to human trafficking. Their approach combines elements of security, human rights, diplomacy, and cooperation with international organizations. Morocco has implemented various measures to combat these issues, such as enhancing border security, strengthening law enforcement efforts, and promoting regional and international cooperation. Additionally, they have also taken steps to protect the rights of migrants, assist the vulnerable migrants by launching two campaigns resulting in the regularization of 50 000 irregular migrants.
Morocco is engaged to combat human trafficking by implementing international law international law, through legislative reforms by adopting the 27-14 law on combating human trafficking. Institutionally, the Moroccan government created the National Commission for the Coordination of Measures to Combat and Prevent Trafficking in Human Beings. They recently adopted the 2023-2030 National Plan to Combat and Prevent Human Trafficking and the National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Human Trafficking. The government completed and approved a comprehensive victim identification guide and National Referral Mechanism in March 2023.
Morocco is part for all initiatives aimed at providing support and assistance to victims, the Moroccan government is a key supporter for regular, orderly and safe migration. Morocco is a primary supporter of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular migration to prevent, combat and eradicate trafficking in persons in the context of international migration.
2. Would you say that Morocco emphasizes the prevention of or reaction to Human Trafficking?
Today, Morocco is experiencing a significant and worrisome increase in cases of human trafficking. Women and minors are the main victims of this crime due in particular to the ever-increasing demand for exploitation of sexual purposes with 283 cases identified in 2022 by the Moroccan authorities.
Considered a serious violation of human rights and a threat to the security and stability of the communities concerned, it is essential to put in place prevention, protection and assistance measures. The prevention of human trafficking is embryonic in Morocco, the Moroccan authorities are actively dismantling networks and pursuing the traffickers, but the number of victims is much higher than expected.
3. What are the main challenges in responding to Human Trafficking?
As discussed, the main victims of human trafficking in Morocco are women and children, particularly unaccompanied children and street children. Women and girls are often victims of sexual exploitation and forced labor, while children are often victims of forced begging, sexual exploitation and forced labor. Migrants and refugees are also vulnerable to human trafficking. Traffickers often exploit their vulnerability by making them work in dangerous conditions, forcing them into prostitution. Despite the adoption of law 24-17, challenges remain to prevent human trafficking in Morocco.
It is therefore imperative that all actors, state and non-state actors, coordinate their efforts, to protect and assist victims and survivors of the human trafficking and implement prevention, awareness and education strategies that have become in putting an end to this grave violation of human rights.
For faster and more effective interventions, inter-agency coordination is essential. It is primordial to unify the efforts of all actors to prevent and reduce human trafficking and protect the rights of the most vulnerable people.
4. How involved are civil society in collaborating on Trafficking of Human Beings (THB)?
Unfortunately, since the adoption of Law 27-14, the intervention of civil society actors in the combat against human trafficking is insufficient and still does not reach the level required to prevent and combat this crime. This is why, it is important to promote the exchange of experiences and expertise for better coordination between institutions at regional and national level.
5. What is Lacking? What is missing from Morocco’s approach?
Human trafficking education and awareness will help inform and raise public awareness about the dangers of human trafficking and ways to prevent it. This can help strengthen prevention and victim protection efforts and hold traffickers accountable. Also, there is a lack of identification and detection of THB victims. The effectiveness of a system depends, in part, on a referral mechanism between state and non-state actors. Sharing information on victims and survivors of THB between the agencies is needed. It is important to emphasize that the prevention of human trafficking and the protection and assistance of victims is a complex and continuous process that requires a comprehensive approach and strong political will to ensure equal opportunities and dignity for all. Additionally, there are certain restrictions in access to protection and assistance for victims in Morocco. Limited resources and budget can make it difficult to provide protection and assistance for all.
6. What is missing from the approach of other key actors?
It is important to strengthen cooperation between state and non-state actors and develop inclusive policies to ensure equitable access to basic services for all victims. This requires a holistic approach that takes into account the specific needs of victims and facilitates their socio-economic integration into the society.
1. Human trafficking prevention: Awareness and education can help prevent human trafficking by informing people about the dangers and signs to watch for. Vulnerable people may better understand risks and be more cautious in their interactions with others, which can reduce opportunities for traffickers.
2. Protection of victims: better identification the potential victims of human trafficking, which can allow for faster intervention and better protection of victims.
3. Community Empowerment: Help communities to have better understand the causes and consequences of human trafficking, which can inspire them to act and take steps to prevent human trafficking. This can strengthen the resilience of communities and enable them to take charge of their own security.
4. Behavior change: Change attitudes and behaviors that promote human trafficking. People can be more aware of the consequences of their actions and choices, which can reduce the risk of falling into the traps of traffickers.