Human Trafficking

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Trafficking of men, women and children is a real issue in Morocco/North Africa. It can be happening as close as next door without your knowledge.

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This year marks the fifteen-year anniversary of the United Nations “Palermo Protocol,” which established the first legal definition of human trafficking. Since that time, scores of anti-trafficking NGOs have been created, dozens of countries have passed laws criminalizing human trafficking and everyday citizens are far more aware of the offense than they were fifteen years ago.

.no crime is more distasteful than the stripping of human dignity for the sake of profit.”

First, the issue remains mired in definitional confusion as to whether human trafficking is slavery, or the process of entering an individual into a condition of slavery. The term connotes movement and was codified in a trans-national organized crime instrument. However, policy leaders posit that movement of the victim is not relevant to the offense, just the slave-like exploitation. Needless to say, if one cannot be clear on what the offense is, it can be challenging to address it.

2. Lack of information

Second, the anti-trafficking movement has historically suffered from a data deficit. Inflated numbers of victims have been bandied around from the outset without any basis in research. This has led to a loss of credibility with policy makers and donors.

The last five years have seen a shift towards gathering accurate data, but the global paucity of sound research remains a chief hurdle to galvanizing sufficient resources to address the offense.

3. Lack of resources

The third deficit is this resource gap. The United States is the global leader at addressing human trafficking, but it spends more on defense in one day than it has spent in the last fifteen years to combat human trafficking. Anti-trafficking efforts remain hampered by insufficient resources, and until this insufficiency is addressed, advocates will be fighting a valiant but losing battle.

There are somewhere between 21 and 36 million victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery around the world, generating annual profits for their exploiters that exceed $100 billion. To be sure, no crime is more distasteful than the stripping of human dignity for the sake of profit. This is the essence of human trafficking, and its eradication is long overdue.


With the aim of strengthening the capacities of civil society actors and first-line responders to counter human trafficking and assist victims, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa organized sensitization and training activities on the domestic law on Trafficking in Persons (TiP) (Law. 27-14) within the framework of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the supplementary Protocol on Trafficking in Persons (TIP). The activities were conducted under the Project on Strengthening the Capacities of Civil Society in Morocco to Identify and Provide Services to Victims of Trafficking in Persons, funded by the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP), in partnership with the Delegate Ministry in charge of Moroccans residing abroad and Migration Affairs. The key objective was to bridge the knowledge gap on TIP and build the required skills for effective response by relevant actors.

Between April 2017 and April 2018 seven training workshops took place on the identification of and assistance to victims of TIP  in selected regions across Morocco, namely, Oujda, Tangier, Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, Fez and Agadir. More than 92 state and non-state actors working on the provision of assistance and protection participated in the workshops. In addition to local civil society organizations, Representatives from the Regional Councils for Human Rights and l’Entraide Nationale also took part in these activities.

The workshops focused on establishing the conceptual and practical foundations for the identification, assistance and protection of the rights of victims of trafficking. Additionally, in preparation for the adoption of the formal TIP framework, the workshops thoroughly examined the possibilities and limitations in the implementation of the national Law 27-14 on TiP.  Also, the competent  Ministry conducted several sessions to educate participants on the TIP law. This was particularly appreciated by the civil society actors as it allowed for a better understanding of the legal context and the adoption process of the national legal framework, as well as on potential partnerships and collaboration between state and non- state actors to combat the crime of TIP.

During the workshops, lessons learnt and best practices from countries with experience in the response to trafficking in persons were shared. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from different countries made effective contributions to the deliberations, such as ACCEM from Spain (a member NGO of the European network ENPATES), CCEM from France (Comité contre l’Esclavage Moderne), KOK (an anti-trafficking NGO network in Germany), FIZ from Switzerland, Union of Jordanian Women from Jordan, ACSé (a national NGO network in France).

The concrete experiences shared by the NGOs on prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships, shed light on the vital role of civil society organizations in countering  different forms of human trafficking. The exchange also highlighted potential interventions by NGOs and first line respondents on detection, referral, direct assistance, advocacy, coordination, cooperation, awareness raising and training.

In the same vein, UNODC experts trained participants on managing trafficking cases considering the needs and the rights of the victims in line with the UNTOC and the Protocol on TIP, to both of which Morocco has acceded. Special attention was given to important aspects affecting the victims, such as age, gender, national or ethnic origin, language, degree of psychosocial vulnerability, level of education, etc.

A key conclusion of the J/TIP Project activities is the need for a wide-reaching awareness raising effort to educate the public on the crime of trafficking in persons and its different forms.  Some of the TIP forms might not be fully understood in the society, such as child labor, forced marriages, child marriages, domestic servitude, and others due to the prevailing cultural, social and economic conditions which is why awareness raising is so important.

Most participants emphasized the need for a comprehensive strategic framework to identify the country’s priorities and the required actions on prevention, protection, prosecution and partnerships, as well as to define roles and responsibilities of relevant actors.

Prevention was prioritized by many NGOs. They suggested to use the existing NGO-led platforms to raise awareness on the crime of trafficking in persons among the vulnerable and at-risk populations and to strengthen community-based protection for the victims.

The activities were possible thanks to the support of the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP).