The government maintained efforts to identify and refer trafficking victims to protection services. In 2018, the government reported it identified 131 male and female victims, including Moroccan victims who were exploited abroad and foreign victims exploited in Morocco. In comparison, in 2017, the government identified 10 victims of trafficking, including sex trafficking, forced labor, and forced begging. In 2018, the government reported that it assisted 85 foreign victims and referred 37 Moroccan victims to Ministry of Justice units and civil society organizations for appropriate care. The government did not have formal victim identification procedures or a national victim referral process, but it collaborated with an NGO to establish best practices and transparent guidelines and procedures for the draft referral mechanism. The government continued to informally refer victims and provided in-kind support to civil society organizations that provided essential services to populations vulnerable to trafficking. Additionally, the government continued to provide services to female and child victims of violence, including potential trafficking victims, at reception centers staffed by nurses and social workers at major hospitals, as well as in protection units in Moroccan courts. During the reporting period, Moroccan law enforcement agencies identified focal points to work directly with these centers and units, and compiled a list of NGO service providers for authorities to refer trafficking victims to care. The government reported providing protection services for more than 17,000 at-risk women and children at centers throughout the country in 2018, but it did not report if any of these individuals were trafficking victims. The government reportedly continued to encourage victims to cooperate in investigations against their traffickers, but it did not report the number of victims who did so during the reporting period, nor did it report if victims received restitution from traffickers or measures taken to protect witness confidentiality. The government reportedly provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of trafficking to countries where they might face retribution or hardship.
The Ministry Delegate in charge of Moroccans Residing Abroad and Migration Affairs (MDMRAMA) continued to lead the implementation of the government’s National Strategy for Immigration and Asylum, which aimed to regularize the legal status of migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, including trafficking victims; under this strategy, foreign trafficking victims could benefit from various services, including reintegration assistance, education, vocational training, social services, and legal aid. However, the government did not report how many foreign trafficking victims—if any—benefited from these services during the reporting period. Furthermore, despite these longstanding regularization efforts, the government did not report efforts to proactively identify potential trafficking victims while undertaking these efforts, especially among the vulnerable sub-Saharan African migrant population; therefore, some victims remained unidentified and authorities may have penalized them for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, such as immigration violations. For example, during the reporting period the government conducted large-scale round-ups of reportedly thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants from the areas in northern Morocco that border the Spanish enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla. One report alleged that this effort included some asylum-seekers and a limited number of refugees—including some children—and forcibly displaced them to areas of the country away from Spanish territory. According to NGOs and the media, authorities sometimes did not check the legal documentation of this population during the raids, nor did they make efforts to screen for trafficking among this vulnerable population. The government also reported it intercepted 89,000 people trying to cross illegally to Europe in 2018, which included rescuing 29,715 migrants stranded at sea. It did not report screening these individuals for indicators of trafficking or identifying any as trafficking victims.