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UN rights expert urges Morocco to adopt a victim-centred approach to fight human trafficking

GENEVA / RABAT (25 June 2013) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, called on the Government of Morocco to work on ensuring victim-centred approach to combating trafficking in persons.

Ms. Ezeilo’s remarks came at the end of her first official visit to Morocco* from 17 to 21 June 2013, where she welcomed the Government’s ratification of the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, and urged it to translate its standards into specific actions to protect and assist victims, prevent trafficking and punish perpetrators.

“Morocco faces considerable challenges as a source, transit and increasingly as a destination country for trafficking in persons,” she said**, noting that the potential scale of the problem should be investigated further. “Irregular migrants are increasingly at risk of trafficking for the purposes of forced labour, services including domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.”

While commending the determination of the Moroccan Government to combat trafficking, the Special Rappporteur stressed that “one of the immediate concerns is the lack of adequate legal framework for addressing trafficking in persons.”

“Victims of trafficking are most often not being identified or being misidentified as smuggled and/or irregular migrants due the absence of appropriate tools and protocols for victim identification,” the UN expert said. In her view, Morocco should implement an adequate data collection mechanism for determining the prevalence rate, forms, trends and manifestation of human trafficking in the country.

She also expressed concerns about the inadequacy of protection and support services for victims of trafficking in Morocco, despite the Government’s efforts on prevention measures especially aimed at reducing vulnerability in particular of children. “Shelter availability and access is very limited for persons exposed to various forms of violence and exploitation and to the risk of trafficking,” she noted.

The independent human rights expert urged the authorities to implement a range of measures aimed at creating effective policy and institutional frameworks for combating trafficking, such as developing a national plan of action, and creating a national agency to coordinate anti-trafficking activities of Governmental institutions.

She also recommended appointing a national rapporteur tasked with monitoring the progress, implementation as well as human rights impacts of anti-trafficking legislation and policy responses, and putting in place a proper victim identification system.

Drawing attention to the cross-border dimension of trafficking in Morocco, the Special Rapporteur called on the Government to continue and broaden its cooperation with other countries in preventing and combating trafficking in persons.

During her five-day mission, Ms. Ezeilo met with relevant officials, authorities, the judiciary, national institutions involved in the fight against trafficking in persons, as well as representatives of UN agencies, international organizations, civil society, individuals and victims of trafficking and/or their representatives. The Special Rapporteur visited Rabat, Casablanca and Tangier.

On 20 June, she also visited the city of Dakhla, Western Sahara, and met with different interlocutors. She welcomed the authorities’ readiness to institutionalize best practices as seen in hospital and court-based responses to gender-based violence, but urged them to enhance capacity-building to identify cases of trafficking in persons, take further measures to reduce vulnerability of potential victims of trafficking and ensure adequate protection of migrants and their families.

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report containing her conclusions and recommendations at the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo (Nigeria) started her mandate as Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children in August 2008. She is independent from any government and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Ezeilo is a human rights lawyer and professor at the University of Nigeria. She has served in various governmental capacities and consulted for various international organizations. She has published extensively on a variety of topics, including human rights, women’s rights, and Sharia law. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Trafficking/Pages/TraffickingIndex.aspx

(*) The Special Rapporteur also visited Dakhla, Western Sahara, on 20 June 2013.

(**) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13481&LangID=E

OHCHR Country Page – Morocco: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/MAIndex.aspx

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/ProtocolTraffickingInPersons.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Purevdorj Vaanchig (+ 41 22 917 9722 / pvaanchig@ohchr.org ) or write to srtrafficking@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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