The government maintained overall efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The government did not have formal comprehensive victim identification standard operating procedures (SOPs) or a national victim referral process but continued to collaborate with an international organization to establish standard procedures and a draft NRM; the draft SOPs and NRM remained pending government approval for the third consecutive year. The government and civil society organizations reported pandemic-related mitigation measures continued to limit authorities’ ability to identify trafficking victims due to movement restrictions. In addition, the government reported the change to remote court proceedings restricted the ability of the points of contact stationed at courts to refer victims to support services. In 2021, the government identified 169 trafficking victims, which was a significant decrease compared with the government’s identification of 441 victims in 2020, although this number may have included victims of other crimes, including smuggling. Of the 169 victims, 116 were exploited in sex trafficking and 12 in forced labor; 115 were female, and 54 were male; 167 were Moroccan, and two were foreign nationals; 90 were adults, and 79 were children. Despite the lack of comprehensive SOPs and an NRM, the Ministry of Interior used standard procedures for the reception, orientation, and care of undocumented migrants and trafficking victims encountered during border management activities. In the absence of a formal referral mechanism, the government continued to informally refer victims to services. The government referred 20 sex trafficking victims to government shelters and provided 54 victims with services including legal aid, housing assistance, medical care, foreign residence permits, and family reunification; the government did not report whether the remaining 95 identified victims received any assistance. The government did not report how many victims, if any, it referred to services in the previous reporting period. In addition, the Ministry of Family, Solidarity, Equality, and Social Development continued implementing a December 2019 initiative to combat forced child begging; the initiative aimed to strengthen child protection systems, focus interagency field teams in different regions, and improve protection services for child forced begging victims. Between the launch of the program in December 2019 and May 2021, the program assisted 142 potential child trafficking victims and provided shelter, education, psychological support, and additional services as necessary. Through this program, the government provided mobile social assistance, including reintegration, to potential child trafficking victims living on the streets of Casablanca, Menes, and Tangier; the government reported 910 children received assistance in 2021. Each branch of the National Security Directorate maintained a support unit for women victims of violence to ensure a more victim- centered approach to sensitive cases, including cases involving female trafficking victims.
The government did not provide shelter or psycho-social services specific to the needs of victims of all forms of trafficking. However, it continued to provide services to female and child victims of violence, including potential trafficking victims, at 40 reception centers staffed by nurses and social workers at major hospitals, as well as in Ministry of Justice (MOJ) protection units in Moroccan courts. Moroccan law enforcement agencies reportedly continued to utilize focal points to work directly with these reception centers and MOJ units, and they continued to use a list of NGO service providers to whom authorities could refer trafficking victims for care. The government reported these services were available to adult male victims but acknowledged they were more difficult to access. Prosecutors in the courts of first instance and the courts of appeal—in coordination with the Ministry of Health—had the authority to order trafficking victims to be removed from exploitative situations and to place them in the care of a hospital or civil society organization. The government also reported it placed an unknown number of officials in courts throughout the country, who were responsible for identifying and referring trafficking victims to psycho- social support, medical services, and legal aid. The government, however, did not report how many—if any—victims these officials or prosecutors referred to protection services. The government continued to rely heavily on NGOs and international organizations to provide assistance to trafficking victims but did not report providing financial resources. NGO service providers noted pandemic-related lockdown measures impeded their ability to assist trafficking victims and reported trafficking victims were stranded for extended periods of time in unsanitary locations or temporary shelters. The government continued to encourage victims to cooperate in investigations against traffickers, but it did not report the number of victims who did so during the reporting period or if it took measures to protect witness confidentiality, nor did it report if victims received restitution from traffickers. The government organized the voluntary repatriation of 2,376 foreign nationals between January and November 2021 but did not report how many were trafficking victims. The government 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 continued to lead 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 proactively identifying potential trafficking victims during these regularization efforts or how many foreign trafficking victims—if any—benefited from these services during the reporting period. Due to the lack of proactive screening and identification measures, some foreign trafficking victims remained unidentified. Furthermore, foreign trafficking victims—especially among the sub-Saharan African migrant population—remained vulnerable to penalization for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit, such as immigration violations. Foreign migrants reported they feared arrest and deportation, thereby deterring them from reporting trafficking or other types of crimes to the police.