The government improved its law enforcement capacity by enacting an anti-trafficking law, but it made limited efforts to investigate and prosecute potential trafficking crimes. The government enacted anti-trafficking law 27.14 in September 2016, which prohibits all forms of trafficking. The law prescribes penalties of five to 30 years imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent, consistent with the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, and commensurate with other serious crimes, such as rape. Several pre-existing laws used during the reporting period prohibited some, but not all, forms of trafficking. Generally, penalties under these laws were not sufficiently stringent. Morocco’s penal code prohibits forced child labor through article 467-2, which prescribes penalties of one to three years imprisonment, which are not sufficiently stringent. The penal code also prohibits “forced prostitution” and “child prostitution” through articles 497-499, which prescribe penalties of up to 10 years or life imprisonment for crimes found to have occurred with aggravated circumstances; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with other serious crimes such as rape. The penal code does not specifically define and penalize sex trafficking. Article 10 of Morocco’s labor code prohibits forced labor of a worker; this offense is punishable by a fine for the first offense and a jail term of up to three months for subsequent offenses; these penalties are not sufficiently stringent.
The government did not make arrest or prosecution data public. Some media outlets and diplomatic missions reported that the government maintained close cooperation with Spain to arrest, prosecute, and convict international human traffickers. In February 2017, the Moroccan government cooperated with the Spanish government in the arrest of a 10-member human trafficking ring moving trafficking victims between Morocco and Spain. The government also reported cooperating with the governments of the Netherlands and Turkey on international trafficking cases during the reporting period. In 2016, the government reported two convictions of forced child begging in which the two perpetrators each received sentences of one-month probation, which advocates consider inadequate to deter the commission of these serious crimes. The government also reported disbanding 33 human smuggling and trafficking networks in 2016, but it did not report prosecuting the perpetrators operating these networks for alleged trafficking crimes. The government initiated separate investigations of and arrested three Saudi Arabian nationals and one American on charges of child sex trafficking and child sex tourism. In 2016, the government continued to investigate seven Moroccan peacekeepers accused of sexual exploitation in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as reported by an international organization. At the end of this reporting period, the international organization reported three of these investigations remained pending, two were found unsubstantiated, and two were found substantiated. In the two substantiated cases, the government reportedly handed down a prison sentence to one former peacekeeper and the other was repatriated with further updates pending. In 2016, the government held three roundtable discussions for officials on victim identification, referral, and protection, which aimed to strengthen the capacity and coordination of anti-trafficking personnel in seven departments throughout the country. Additionally, authorities from various ministries, including the police, met regularly to coordinate various anti-trafficking efforts. The Ministry of Justice organized regular training programs on human trafficking for judges and other judicial officials in 2016. After the government enacted the 2016 anti-trafficking law, an international organization—with in-kind assistance from the government—trained a group of judges on its provisions and implementation.