The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families this afternoon concluded its consideration of the second periodic report of Morocco, with Committee Experts commending the State Party’s evolving legal framework on migrants, and raising issues concerning the rights of children of migrant workers and the events of 24 June, 2022 occurring at the State border in Melilla.
Edgar Corzo Sosa, Committee Chairperson, welcomed the State’s significant level of development in policy relating to the Convention.
Myriam Poussi, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked about minors. Did the children of migrant workers who had an irregular status have the right to access education? What were the challenges faced in this case? How would Morocco address this problem? Another Expert asked about migrant children exploited as a tool for begging.
Mamane Oumaria, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, said that the events of 24 June, 2022 in Melilla were deplorable. What investigations were underway? Another Expert asked if there was there a report that attributed responsibility. Was racial discrimination a factor in the events? Was the investigation independent?
Younes Sekkouri, Minister of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills and head of the delegation, underscored in opening remarks the importance the State party gave to migration. The National Policy on Migration and Asylum of 2013 and a strategy adopted in 2014 had bolstered legal frameworks to address migration and human trafficking, regularise migrant status, process asylum requests and grant access to public services for migrants without discrimination. Public authorities ensured the management of entry and residence of workers and their families through Law 02-03, which required compliance with all the instruments to which the Kingdom was party to.
The delegation said that social centres had taken measures to protect the most vulnerable children and prevent them from falling victim to exploitation and trafficking, and integrate them into society. Schooling services were provided to children of migrant workers irrespective of their immigration status. An awareness raising campaign was underway to prevent child exploitation and trafficking in the form of begging.
The events that occurred at Melilla were tragic and brought deep suffering to the State party, the delegation said. Police were attacked as 2,000 people stormed the Barrio Chino border, a very narrow passage. 140 law enforcement officials and 77 migrants were wounded and 23 people died from asphyxiation due to the crush. Preliminary investigation proceedings included DNA testing to identify victims as well as post-mortems to establish causes of death. To ensure transparency, the National Human Rights Council investigated and drafted reports and accredited African ambassadors were briefed on the incident. Some of the migrants and attackers used para-military techniques. The incident highlighted the danger of smuggling networks and the need for bilateral agreements to address them.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Oumaria thanked the delegation for the frank, open and straightforward dialogue. Morocco was a positive example to other States on the African continent on the issue of migration. Real challenges would have to be addressed, but the Committee remained convinced that the delegation was receptive to its feedback and expected that it would be considered.
Mr. Sekkouri, in his closing remarks, said Morocco had maintained its independence and its collaboration with the Global South, and sometimes with the North. It continued to invest in people. The delegation looked forward to the Committee’s recommendations and the State party would do its best to implement them within its power and resources.
The delegation of Morocco was made up of representatives of the Ministry of Economic Inclusion; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Interministerial Delegation for Human Rights; the Ministry of National Education; the Ministry of Health and Social Protection; the Ministry of the Interior; the Directorate General of National Security; the Presidency of the Public Ministry; the Mission to the Head of Government; and the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee on Migrant Worker’s thirty-sixth session is being held from 27 March to 6 April. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m., Wednesday 29 March to begin its consideration of the first and second combined periodic reports of Nigeria (CMW/C/NGA/1-2).
The Committee has before it the second periodic report of Morocco (CMW/C/MAR/2).
Presentation of the Report
YOUNES SEKKOURI, Minister of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills and head of the delegation, noted the many international instruments to which the country was party and underscored the importance it gave to migration. The Kingdom was given the role of “Leader of the African Union on the issue of Migration” following the 28th African Union Summit in 2017, which established the Observatory for Migration. The National Policy on Migration and Asylum of 2013 and a strategy adopted on the same issues in 2014 had bolstered legal frameworks to address migration and human trafficking, regularise migrant status, process asylum requests and grant access to public services for migrants without discrimination. Work was underway since 2013 for an office for refugees and stateless persons and for an inter-ministerial committee responsible for assessing asylum seekers and studying their files. This work had enabled the regularisation of the situation of 1,192 asylum seekers of various nationalities and allowed 259 minors to obtain refugee status in Morocco. Programmes were established to house migrants so they would not fall victim to human trafficking and to allow for voluntary returns. The results of these programmes were positive, with 4,305 undocumented migrants benefitting from the voluntary return programme and the State dismantling 290 migrant smuggling networks in 2022.
Public authorities ensured the management of entry and residence of workers and their families through Law 02-03, which required compliance with all the instruments to which the Kingdom was party to. To address Morocco’s evolution from a country of origin to a country of transit and settlement for migrants, the State had adopted a national action plan to fight human trafficking for the period 2023 to 2030 and a national referral mechanism for victims. Under recently introduced legislation, some undocumented migrants who had been in prosecution were acquitted. The judiciary had demonstrated its commitment to the Convention through several labour case decisions taken on the principle of non-discrimination, protection from arbitrary dismissal and equality with Moroccan workers. Article 9 of the Moroccan Labour Code prohibited any discrimination between workers that could violate or distort the principle of equal opportunities or equal treatment in the field of employment or professional activities.
Morocco had also begun establishing practical measures to improve the conditions of Moroccans residing abroad. A strategy was implemented to develop consular services in other countries and support vulnerable groups among Moroccan migrants, such as prisoners and the elderly, as well as to intervene during crisis periods. During the pandemic, more than 77,000 Moroccan citizens residing abroad were enabled to return to their countries of residence, and more than 18,235 cases were repatriated from outside Morocco. Relevant public authorities ensured that agencies operating in Morocco in international employment mediation adhered to the National Labour Code as well as International Labour Organization Convention 181. Further, the Kingdom strengthened bilateral cooperation with labour-importing countries. To that end, employment contracts were standardised with partner countries to determine wages and ensure health coverage and the right to family reunification.
Rapid economic and political developments worldwide required continual monitoring of migrant flows, with intensified cooperation amongst countries. Irregular migration, human rights violations such as human trafficking and exploitation by criminal networks often resulted from a lack of economic stability or security. Given Morocco’s status as a transit country for migration to Europe, the country would continue to adopt new approaches to minimise the tragedies experienced by irregular migrants crossing from the southern to the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea-which had shown the limitations of security-based approaches alone in tackling these issues.
Questions by Committee Experts
MAMANE OUMARIA, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, welcomed the delegation, recalling his visit in 2022 to Agadir, which led to the production of “the Agadir Comment”. On the occasion, the Rapporteurs met with various stakeholders. Mr. Oumaria recalled King Mohamed VI’s commitment on the 20th anniversary of the Green March to develop a robust humanitarian policy for migrants. Indeed, the country had regularised many undocumented migrants and the Observatory for Migration had been set up. Migration was a complex issue, however. Many countries had not ratified the Convention and South-South migration figures were greater than South-North migration. Another issue was that Europe was close by but none of the sea-border countries had signed the Convention, though they were party to others that addressed migration. Migrant workers were human beings and their dignity had to be recognised.
KHALED CHEIKHNA BABACAR, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked if the State party had considered ratifying the International Labour Organization Convention 87 on freedom of association or Convention 143? Conventions 29 on forced labour and 105 had been ratified. Did the State party plan to ratify the Protocol to Convention 29, which would dovetail with others to combat forced labour? The situation of seasonal workers was concerning. Many women and men worked in Europe seasonally, but work was precarious. Would the 2020 protocol to protect the rights of seasonal workers be updated to be strengthened? Tripartite dialogue was important for migrant workers. How would trade unions be involved in dialogues on migrant work in the future?
MYRIAM POUSSI, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, noted that the constant migrant flows represented countless opportunities to improve practices and governance of migration for both Moroccan migrants abroad and foreign workers within the country. Non-discrimination was well addressed within the legislative framework of the State party but the implementation was unclear in the context of sub-Saharan migrants in the country. What figures were available of complaints lodged for discrimination? What were their outcomes? In general, migrants did not turn to the justice system, as justice seemed out of reach for them. Were there any measures to counter this? A disturbing Facebook post detailing unfit living conditions for sub-Saharan migrants in camps in Casablanca and west of Morocco needed to be addressed. Were many sub-Saharan migrants exposed to generalised criminal and institutional violence? What was the average stay of the population transiting through the country and what was the Government doing to reduce it? Were there sub-Saharan Africans among the 50,000 migrants who had been regularised? How many of those benefitting from that regularisation continued to reside in Morocco? Information had been received that their regular status had been reversed. Was this correct?
What information was available on cases of discrimination of Moroccan workers abroad? What role did the Consulate play in these cases? Increased reports of sub-Saharan migrants detained, most of them on grounds of smuggling, were concerning. The principle of fair trial had not been respected, mostly due to lack of interpretation and administrative difficulty. What measures were in place to allow those detained to contact their families and their consultative and diplomatic services, which was their right?
A recent study recommended to improve access to justice within the country. What actions had been taken to do so? Obtaining representation for migrant workers was difficult. Were migrants guaranteed a lawyer? Was interpretation guaranteed for migrant workers who did not speak the language of the court? Who was responsible for legal fees? The transfer of migrants within the country to cities such as Dakhla was of concern, as they were not provided the security or comfort measures during the journey. Reports of phone confiscation during that process until the border city was reached to prevent contacting the proper authorities was of concern. Could the delegation address this?
Were all domestic workers guaranteed a contract concluded between the worker and the employer? 66 per cent of domestic workers in Morocco were women. How many of them were migrants and how many were Moroccan? Did refugee centres aid women and girls? What happened when Moroccan women were repatriated from abroad? Reports were received that Helena Maleno Garzón, a human rights defender defending the rights of migrants, was deported in conditions that violated her rights. Could the delegation address this? Foreign minors could not be the subject of a deportation order. Nonetheless, there were cases of unaccompanied minors among the transit population who were victims of the horrendous events of 24 June, 2022. What happened in the case of unaccompanied minors? Did the children of migrant workers who had an irregular status have the right to access education? What were the challenges faced in this case? How would Morocco address this problem?
MAMANE OUMARIA, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, asked about the two laws before the Moroccan parliament addressing migration. What happened on the border with Spain was tragic. Migration issues could not be resolved with walls, only through dialogue. Morocco had sought dialogue with Spain, particularly about the Melilla enclave. According to sources, there had been over 441 deaths on the maritime borders of Morocco, including 215 cases of boats that had entirely disappeared. What was the search and rescue role and capacity of Morocco? This was important for any country with high migration flows. The events of 24 June, 2022 were deplorable. What investigations were underway into the events? Reportedly, refoulement occurred based on a 1994 agreement between Spain and Morocco. Did the agreement respect the Convention? Even if Spain was not a party to the Convention, it was a party to conventions on rescue at sea and against torture. Once migrants had been returned, what happened to them? Was information sent to members of their families? Were they notified in case of a migrant’s death?
South-South cooperation was more important in addressing issues of migration than north-south cooperation. To become a champion of migration, Morocco would need to increase bilateral cooperation with all African nations and with the African Network of National Human Rights Institutions.
A Committee Expert asked about the thousands of migrants expelled from Algeria in 1975. What had been done to reintegrate them into society? Did they have access to retirement pensions? Had the Government done anything on the restitution of their property from the Algerian Government? The Expert asked for further clarification on the tragic events of 24 June, 2022. Was there a report that attributed responsibility? Was racial discrimination a factor in the events? Was the investigation independent and if its findings were not intended to be made public, could they be shared with the Committee?
Morocco was a champion in social legislation. It was a one of the rare countries in Africa which provided a legal framework for domestic work. Under legislation on domestic work, a contract could only be granted to a domestic worker upon the agreement of a local authority and could be rescinded at any time. How many had been granted and how could authorisation be withdrawn? Were there statistics on the number of cases wherein granted authorisation was withdrawn? What appeals processes were available?
Another Committee Expert asked if a judicial investigation was underway into the events of 24 June 2022 to ascertain how the deaths occurred and what happened to the perpetrators? Was emergency medical attention provided to victims? Was there a protocol to determine excessive use of force? Were there children amongst the wounded or those who were detained? How did security forces implement law in Mount Gurugu? Was there a protocol regarding the use of force? Were the migrants forcibly resettled or returned to other countries? How was forced migrant displacement within the country decided? What remedy was available for these migrants? What was the situation of unaccompanied Moroccan children in Spain? How did the Moroccan and Spanish authorities coordinate to provide proper documentation to these children?
Helena Maleno Garzón had in fact lived in Morocco for twenty years and had a daughter. What happened to her and what was in the best interest of the child following the decision to prohibit her re-entry into the country? How were migrants lost at sea identified? Was DNA testing used?
Another Expert asked if there was any information on human rights institutions that visited migrants specifically? The gap between legislation and implementation was concerning. Reports of torture, mistreatment and discrimination were proof of this gap. Was the gap due to lack of training, capacity or another issue? Were reported cases of violations of migrants’ rights investigated by independent human rights institutions?
A Committee Expert asked about the situation of bilateral and multilateral agreements with destination countries. How did they protect the rights of all migrant workers? For example, how could the right to vote in Moroccan parliamentary elections be assured for Moroccan migrant workers living overseas?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that Morocco had ratified 65 international instruments, including eight of the core conventions of the International Labour Organization and participated enthusiastically in periodic reviews. Regarding Convention 143 on migrant workers, law 01-16 was passed. Law 81-16 addressed the 1930 Convention on forced labour. Dialogue with the International Labour Organization was ongoing.
Trade unions were an integral part of life in Morocco as the right to belong to a trade union was guaranteed by the Constitution. There was no clash between the State party’s Labour Code and International Labour Organization Convention 97. The Code allowed both Moroccans and foreigners to lead and join trade unions. Unions were vital to ensuring that workers’ voices were heard. A recent agreement of 2022 was signed to promote the rights of workers, including foreign workers. A new approach was taken in the context of rising costs and inflation to increase the minimum wage by 10 per cent overall and reduce the number of required days to contribute to pension funds. De-facto policies were being implemented to improve living conditions for all people. A “social year” had been established, in which regional dialogues would take place with all sectors of society to find tripartite solutions and create best practices. The Academy for Social Dialogue addressed questions of culture and engagement between the workforce and employers. This required training and education.
The Kingdom of Morocco had ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and Moroccan law reflected this. The Labour Code stipulated that pay discrimination could not occur between Moroccan nationals and migrant workers. Education was guaranteed for all children. More than 3,000 migrant children had access to education during the reporting period and informal education was also provided to combat illiteracy. Courses on legal protection services were also offered to migrants so they could stand on equal footing with Moroccans. During the pandemic for example, migrants could access both COVID-19 vaccinations and social housing. Migrants and Moroccans had equal access to justice and 380 social workers were available for migrants. The State ensured that migrants had access to certified interpreters when lodging a complaint with the proper authorities, covering the cost of interpretations. 641 complaints were submitted by non-nationals. 32 per cent of these cases were discontinued and 37 per cent were in trial. Some organisations provided pro-bono legal representation. The court appointed free legal counsel in criminal cases. A centre providing services in different languages had received more than 5,000 requests since 2022. An electronic complaints mechanism had been successfully established to keep continual contact with complainants and resolve proceedings.
The State aided women and unaccompanied children. Prosecution services provided important information, social workers, interpretation and legal services. Appeals could be lodged right up until a sentence was handed down. In 2021, 20,945 children were able to access care services and some of them were migrants. Aid was provided to more than 13,000 child victims, of whom more than 6,000 were in conflict with the law and 3,900 were in a precarious or vulnerable situation. Unaccompanied children had a particular status by law. They were provided services including legal representation and interpretation free of cost, regardless of the length of legal process.
The events that occurred at Melilla were tragic and brought deep suffering to the State party. It showed the real complexity of migration and smuggling, and highlighted Morocco’s unique position because of its geography as well as the increased instability in the Sahel. In previous years, 350 attempted attacks had taken place but the Moroccan authorities had been able to handle them. On 24 June 2022, 2,000 people came during the day, whereas they usually came during the night. Panic occurred when they crossed the city centre en masse. These people attacked the police, who kept order, with weapons and stones. They stormed the Barrio Chino border crossing, a very narrow passage. Law enforcement responded appropriately and did not use a single bullet. They used full riot gear, which was customary in such situations. Those agents had received proper training to deal with migrants developed with partners such as the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. A very clear procedure helped to manage the events and to rescue and hospitalise the wounded. 140 law enforcement officials and 77 migrants were wounded. Care was administered under the code of medical ethics. Preliminary investigation proceedings included DNA testing to identify victims as well as post-mortems to establish causes of death. To ensure transparency, the National Human Rights Council investigated and drafted reports and accredited African ambassadors were briefed on the incident. Some of the migrants and attackers used para-military techniques. The cause of death of the 23 people was asphyxiation due to the stampede in the narrow passage in Barrio Chino. The incident highlighted the danger of these networks and the need for bilateral agreements to address them.
Morocco was in favour of multilateral governance of migration. The State party was a main party in the creation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and it remained committed to its implementation. Cooperation was needed to share responsibility. Ongoing contact was maintained with many stakeholders, including many United Nations agencies. Soon after the events at Melilla, information was provided by the State party on the events to the relevant United Nations bodies and special procedures mandate holders, but also to global partners. Morocco would continue to be committed to transparency on the issue.
Domestic labour was subject to the law on working conditions for domestic workers. There was a template contract for foreigners which guarded against child labour and obligated the employer to document the labour relationship and ensure the minimum wage, days off and medical care. Since the entry into force of the law in 2019, the number of contracts for foreign workers had reached 800, or 12 per cent of total number of domestic workers in Morocco. A copy of the contract was submitted to labour inspectors for oversight. The inspectors could also receive complaints and mediation would take place if necessary. A guidebook existed detailing the complementarity of the labour inspectors and the prosecution.
Schooling services were provided to children of migrant workers irrespective of their immigration status in line with Moroccan legislation, which mandated education for children from four to sixteen years of age. All measures were taken to integrate children into schools regardless of disability or migration status. Since 2016, about 23,000 children of migrants benefitted from formal schooling, while 2,000 benefitted from informal schooling. Children received lunches and allowances tied to their continued participation in schooling. Further, a guidebook on the integration of children of migrants was available to all schools. Children of non-Muslim migrants were not required to go to religious or Islamic education classes.
Morocco had always been a welcoming land and immigration had been part of the country’s fabric. At some point in time, capacity became saturated, though. An administrative approach gave way to a humanist approach, leading to a regional initiative to regularise 50,000 people, 96 per cent of whom came from African countries. The State party attempted to regularise as many people as possible as a demonstration of good will. Documentation renewal occurred regularly without any hitch; a one-year renewal was replaced by a three-year renewal. Criteria for regularisation had been rationalised.
The relocation of migrants occurred within a strict legal framework. It was a preventative and protective approach to take migrants out of unfit living conditions in the northern forest and protect them from smuggling rings. All these actions were within international legal frameworks such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The State party had a responsibility to protect the lives of migrants through moving them out of danger and preventing them from taking dangerous sea crossings. Relocation was also a practice to pre-empt voluntary return of migrants. It should be seen as a humane alternative to refoulement and deportation, which was no longer practiced in Morocco.
There was no generalised violence meted out against migrants. Protection for migrants was very important to the Kingdom, as migrants improved diversity and had potential for professional development. The Moroccan model combatted racism and xenophobia systematically and there was legal recourse in cases of violations.
The country was only 14 kilometres from Europe and its sea route was used by traffickers and criminals, who did not hesitate to put migrants in danger on unsafe boats. 90,000 people were rescued at sea in recent years thanks to the Royal Navy and other organisations. Once saved, migrants were subject to a procedure to access emergency shelters, medical care and interviews. Depending on reasons for migration, asylum seekers, victims of trafficking and economic migrants were referred to the appropriate agencies systematically.
A large population of migrants had squatted at Ouled Ziane bus station in Casablanca. However, this created unfit living conditions as well as a public disturbance, so they were peacefully removed by authorities. Some of this population who had inflicted violence upon authorities with weapons such as stones were prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Moroccans abroad could sign up to vote in referenda as well as run for representation. They could also vote by proxy.
The State party had promulgated a law combatting and preventing human trafficking with a victim-based approach that treated Moroccan and migrant victims equally. Legal support was free of cost under the law had 13 chief objectives, five of which centred on migrants specifically. Capacity building took place through cooperation with non-governmental organisations, 21 of which were specialised in administering services to migrants. Over 2,300 migrants had benefitted from legal aid, 39 per cent of whom were women, and 1,234 migrants had benefitted from social services, 41 per cent of whom were unaccompanied migrant children. Access to education was improved through the creation of specialised units and online programmes as well.
A legal network was also established. 75 lawyers were trained in migrant issues, 18 translators and interpreters were available to the courts and booklets explaining migrant issues and rights were available in French and English.
Morocco and Spain had specific migratory agreements relating to Moroccan workers in Spain since 1979. These were expended in 2001. A hybrid coordination committee monitored the implementation of the agreements and established follow-up measures. A raft of provisions allowed significant progress. Focus was given to returning migrants to integrate them into the country’s labour market but also to maintain the skills acquired abroad.
A national employment agency helped women who came back to rural areas to integrate into the job market. The State was promoting “Vertical integration,” a measure in which 4,000 vocational training institutes would be mobilised to train Moroccans in in-demand jobs in Spain to bolster qualifications and salaries, and make better job opportunities available to them. A large budget was allocated to bring these opportunities to rural areas, targeting the regions that were hardest hit by restrictions on travel to work implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Programmes existed to assist work abroad, including through rent subsidies. There were also agreements that created economic partnerships between private businesses and the Government.
South-South cooperation was enshrined as a constitutional principle. The first generation of migrant agreements were concluded in the 1960s not only with Europe but with African country as well. These were forward-thinking for the time and were representative of the country’s attitude. Further, the African Union’s Migration Policy Framework for Africa was hugely important. The parameters of this Framework dovetailed with a lot of points that the Rapporteurs made. Regional and subregional cooperation and a continental and global vision was necessary. Addressing all the underlying causes of migration, such as climate change, was also important. The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was held in Marrakech, produced three committees for geographic regions in Africa which would also address migration. There was also another interesting initiative to address desertification, which had an impact on migration. African States were aiming to produce African solutions to African problems.
Agreements with Spain also fell under European Union regulations and Spain’s own ratified instruments. Spain, like Morocco, was party to many instruments.
The deportation of 47,000 people from Algeria in the space of a week was an incident that had not received enough international attention. Morocco faced a great challenge in welcoming them at the time but was able to integrate the population. They had systematically been integrated into the administrative system and therefore were able to benefit from all rights available to civil servants. Algeria needed to consider these people’s rights. It was important to keep the memory of the incident alive.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
KHALED CHEIKHNA BABACAR, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, noted that if international conventions and instruments were properly incorporated in domestic legislation, then there would be no conflict regarding their ratification. The point of ratifying was to hold the State to a high standard. Morocco was particularly concerned by these issues and therefore ratification of all related instruments was advised.
The concept of “vertical integration” was notable and it was important to emphasise training and skills-building and not just salary. It would be interesting to hear more about this in the future.
A Committee Expert brought up the Global Compact on Migration. Though it was signed in Marrakesh, was it actively promoted by the Government? Most European countries had not signed it. How did the State promote both the Compact and the Convention?
MAMANE OUMARIA, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, recommended that the State party leverage its position within the African Union to hold a summit dedicated exclusively to migration. The report on Melilla needed to be widely disseminated to avoid repetition. The targeted populations of legislation on migrants did not always have the information regarding their rights. How would the State party disseminate that information better? How would all State agents and other stakeholders be properly trained?
A Committee Expert said that bills and laws underway concerning asylum and migration were of interest to the Committee. The Economic Community of West African States had an agreement on free movement. Would Morocco integrate this framework also? Were more details available on the events of 24 June 2022? A BBC documentary showed striking images and accounts from the previous day, wherein people who tried to jump fences were crushed. Teargas was used and people were corralled into difficult situations. Agents were seen kicking people on the ground. Investigations of the incident had taken place but their objective was to prosecute migrants who tried to jump the fence. Had any investigations of the actions of the agents been carried out? What was the result of interventions to reduce the vulnerability of people based in settlements near the northern border?
Another Committee Expert said that many undocumented migrants were forced to leave. What diplomatic collaboration took place to support migrants to obtain their documents? Conversely, what support was available for Moroccans abroad to remain regular?
An Expert noted that many countries looked to Morocco as a model for legislation pertaining to domestic labour. Would the State party consider ratifying the International Labour Organization Domestic Workers Convention? Could the delegation make a statement promoting Article 77 of the Convention on complaints addressed to the Committee? It would be important given the Kingdom’s position in the region and as a champion of migration.
Another Committee Expert asked the delegation to provide data disaggregated by gender and ethnic origin on unaccompanied minors within the country and on Moroccan children abroad. Migrants used children as a tool to beg. Were there instruments in place in line with the Convention of the Rights of the Child to warn of this phenomenon or combat it?
EDGAR CORZO SOSA, Committee Chairperson, asked what the protocols in place were to defend human rights defenders. It was important to bolster their work. What were the norms and protocols in place to do so? A significant number of complaints were received about the hefty requirements related to obtaining residency permits. Did the process need to be reviewed? A significant level of development in policy was notable. Was an additional ratification of Article 77 of the Convention or other instruments in the works? The confrontation between migratory policy and human rights was complicated in the context of borders. Tensions were inevitable, especially between North-South poles. The events of 24 June 2022 were likely to be repeated. What was the State party’s vision for the border? Could the delegation offer a more general vision for borders and these “hot spots” of tension?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that the State party had established new rules and a schedule for its social dialogue. Social dialogue had to be enshrined in law. Negotiations had taken place within the education sector over eight months regarding social dialogue. Similar processes were taking place in the healthcare sector. The Government wanted to strengthen trade unions so that the process could take place with trust and in good faith.
Domestic work did not just affect migrants; it concerned everyone. Thought legislation existed, it was difficult to get labour inspection into peoples’ private homes, which might prevent employers from declaring workers. Formerly, many women workers in the informal sector did not want to be declared as Morocco had health insurance for the poorest people and those women benefitted from it. If they were to switch to formal work, they would be switched to another social security regime and be in danger of losing their jobs. To remedy this, a royal decree combined the two social security regimes and allowed domestic workers to be self-employed. Further, a programme was drawn up to promote training for domestic work. The State aimed to integrate domestic workers into the formal labour market and trade unions.
Trade unions were at the heart of Moroccan independence. They were responsible for the exile of Mohamed V following strikes.
As of 2022, the Labour Ministry had issued 12,625 work authorisations, including 7,390 for first-time contracts. 40 per cent had been given to migrant workers. Visas were issued and withdrawn only in exceptional circumstances wherein the employee had breached the terms of the contract. To date, no visas had been withdrawn in this way. Fixed-term contracts were established considering reciprocal agreements with Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria and France. The visa procedure was reviewed recently. Visa length was commensurate with the contract length, but for permanent contracts, visas started at a five-year term and could be renewed.
Morocco promoted the Convention, targeting countries from the Global North during the Universal Periodic Review process. The State party also worked closely with other countries all over the world to promote the Convention, often holding meetings with experts and collaborating with Special Rapporteurs. A continental summit in Africa was a good idea. Recently Morocco hosted a ministerial meeting on the African diaspora with a focus on the financial implications of the transfer of migrants, particularly on pensions. Morocco was collaborating with the Economic Community of West African States as an investor. There was a clear intention to engage in investment and development with those countries in connection with energy security. Developing sustainable energies was necessary. Morocco did not want to emphasise security in migration. Rather, a cooperative, long-term approach was desirable, specifically with South-South migration.
Humanitarian support for migrants in towns was provided by the National Human Rights Council. Civil society also supported migrants through awareness raising and played a key role in supporting them. The East-West Foundation was a great example of such work. Human rights programmes implemented by the Ministry of Education targeted the royal academies of the police, border guard and gendarmerie. The Constitution was truly a human rights charter, emphasising the positive role of diversity and ethnic difference.
Morocco had national legislation with provisions protecting migrant workers and their families. A national policy was adopted that aided in regularising the status of migrants. So far, persons of 116 nationalities had been served under the legislation. Migration was considered in all development legislation. Evaluation and monitoring mechanisms would also be established.
The Kingdom of Morocco had 166 embassies distributed throughout the world that offered consular services. It had appointed 1,454 officers who had trained in social services to help Moroccans abroad in either regular or irregular situations. Mobile consular services were also available and many of those services would be digitised in the near future and made available in seven languages.
The country took its commitment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child seriously. A census would take place in 2024 which would provide more accurate statistics disaggregated by sex, age and region. An awareness raising campaign was underway to prevent child exploitation and trafficking in the form of begging. Simplified guides existed to identify these children. Projects to support street children were in pilot stages and a circular was given to judges to protect the best interest of all children in difficult contexts.
Unaccompanied minors were addressed through upstream prevention measures and international cooperation for those abroad. The integrated child protection policy included training centres and protection units. Royal instructions required returning the child to a safe family environment. There was an upstream programme to prevent trafficking in minors. The integrated Child Protection Policy of 2015 was designed in consultation with all stakeholders, including over 700 children between the ages of 12 and 18. Social centres had taken measures to protect the most vulnerable children, prevent them from falling victim to exploitation and trafficking, and integrate them into society.
While many countries closed their doors to migrants, Morocco took the opposite approach. The country regularised 58,000 migrants with three-year visas, so they did not have to deal with yearly renewals and were able to settle and find work. The aim was to not make migration more complex. No problems were encountered in renewing residency permits.
Morocco believed that the accession to international human rights instruments was a bulwark. Six out of nine United Nations human rights treaties had been ratified. Appropriate capacity had to be developed before acceding to these instruments. Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child had been acceded to. Morocco would continue to follow the same path as appropriate in respect to Article 77 of this Committee’s Convention.
24 June 2022 was an exceptional event wherein migrants used knives, stones and paramilitary techniques, while Moroccan authorities did not use lethal force. They occupied public space in the tiny town of Nador in broad daylight. Access to healthcare, treatment and justice was provided. Public opinion was also very important to the country. The police were meant to be a people’s police. The police salary was increased so they felt valorised, and then they received robust human rights training. Morocco was one of the few countries that managed the Arab Spring thanks to its democratic framework and policy tools. Commenting on a documentary while investigation was ongoing was inappropriate, though indeed action had to be taken regarding those living in the aforementioned forest which left them vulnerable.
Questions by Committee Experts
KHALED CHEIKHNA BABACAR, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, noted that labour inspectors were on the front lines to ensure compliance with legislation. Was there a specific programme designed to increase their capacity to carry out their work? What difficulties did children of migrant workers face to register births? How could earnings be easily transferred without excessive tax?
MYRIAM POUSSI, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, noted a lack of information on Moroccans abroad. Could the delegation detail some challenges that Moroccans abroad encountered with access to justice? Was there a civil society partnership in this regard? Could the delegation give more information on the voluntary repatriation program? What statistics were available in this regard? What support did they receive through the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment?
MAMANE OUMARIA, Committee Expert and Country Co-Rapporteur, thanked the delegation for the frank, open and straightforward dialogue. Morocco was a positive example to other States on the African continent on the issue of migration. Real challenges would have to be addressed, but the Committee remained convinced that the delegation was receptive to its feedback and expected that it would be considered.
YOUNES SEKKOURI, Minister of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills and head of the delegation, said that the dialogue was fruitful. Morocco was a country that had maintained its independence and its collaboration with the Global South, and sometimes with the North. This was why it continued to invest in immaterial capital. This meant investing in people. Immense pressure was felt following the COVID-19 pandemic as was the case for many developing countries. Democracy had to be assured. The delegation looked forward to the Committee’s recommendations and the State party would do its best to implement them within its power and resources.