As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Morocco, and traffickers exploit Moroccan victims abroad. Documented and undocumented foreign migrants, especially women and children, are highly vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking in Morocco and as they transit through Morocco to reach Europe. Traffickers exploit many migrants who voluntarily use smugglers to enter Morocco. In 2020, the number of sub-Saharan migrants clandestinely entering the country—the majority of whom intend to transit Morocco on their way to Europe—decreased by an estimated 30 percent in comparison to 2019; however, the number of migrants departing from Morocco for Europe reportedly increased due to an eight-fold increase in migrants making the dangerous ocean crossing to the Canary Islands. The Spanish government and international organizations estimate that 38,000 people, including Moroccan citizens, crossed clandestinely from Morocco to Spanish territory in 2020 either by sea or over land; the majority, approximately 21,000, arrived in the Canary Islands. Both sub-Saharan and Moroccan migrants making this journey to Spain and further into Europe are at risk of trafficking in Morocco and Europe. For example, traffickers exploit some female migrants while seeking assistance at “safe houses” in Morocco, which usually are run by individuals of their own nationality. Some female undocumented migrants, primarily from Sub-Saharan Africa and a small but growing number from South Asia, are exploited in sex trafficking and forced labor in Morocco. Criminal networks operating in Oujda on the Algerian border and in northern coastal cities, such as Nador, exploit undocumented migrant women in sex trafficking and forced begging; networks in Oujda also reportedly exploit children of migrants in forced begging. Some female migrants, particularly Nigerians, who transit Oujda are exploited in sex trafficking once they reach Europe. Furthermore, some contacts claim that entrenched Nigerian networks, working with Moroccan criminal elements, exploit primarily Nigerian women in sex trafficking and retain control over these victims when they arrive in Europe. International organizations, local NGOs, and migrants report women and unaccompanied children from Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Cameroon are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor in Morocco. Some reports suggest Cameroonian and Nigerian networks exploit women in sex trafficking, while Nigerian networks also exploit women in forced begging in the streets by threatening the victims and their families; the victims are typically the same nationality as the traffickers. Some women from the Philippines and Indonesia and francophone sub-Saharan Africa are recruited for employment as domestic workers in Morocco; upon arrival, employers force them into domestic servitude through non-payment of wages, withholding of passports, and physical abuse.
Traffickers, including parents and other intermediaries, exploit Moroccan children in Morocco for forced labor, domestic work, begging, and sex trafficking. Some Moroccan boys endure forced labor while employed as apprentices in the artisanal, textile, and construction industries and in mechanic shops. Although the incidence of child domestic workers has reportedly decreased in Morocco since 2005, girls are recruited from rural areas for work in domestic service in cities and some become victims of forced labor. NGOs and other observers anecdotally reported in 2018 that a significant number of girls work as domestic help in Moroccan households, but it is difficult to determine the extent of the problem because of authorities’ inability to access this population. Drug traffickers reportedly compel children to participate in drug production in Morocco. Some family members and other intermediaries exploit Moroccan women in sex trafficking. Some foreigners, primarily from Europe and the Middle East, engage in child sex tourism in major Moroccan cities; these cases reportedly decreased during 2020 due to pandemic-related diminished international travel. Traffickers exploit Moroccan adults and children in forced labor and sex trafficking, primarily in Europe and the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf. Traffickers force Moroccan women into commercial sex abroad where they experience restrictions on movement, threats, and emotional and physical abuse. During the reporting period, media reported Moroccan workers in Spain’s strawberry farms were subjected to severe labor conditions, at times amounting to forced labor, and sexual abuse. Swedish authorities reported that, since 2016, traffickers force homeless boys and young men from Morocco to deal drugs, carry out thefts, and perpetrate other criminal activities in Sweden; however, these cases have reportedly decreased since 2019.