Rabat - [N]on-state actors and NGOs in particular have acquired an international ‘citizen personality’ which enables them to coin new social demands and make new calls for the regulation of the world system. These social demands, which mobilize the public opinion along with the political relationships between NGOs and other actors of the system (states, large companies, as well as other non-state actors such as trade unions and professional associations) have a direct impact on global governance and on the new attempts to build international institutions.
Rabat – [N]on-state actors and NGOs in particular have acquired an international ‘citizen personality’ which enables them to coin new social demands and make new calls for the regulation of the world system. These social demands, which mobilize the public opinion along with the political relationships between NGOs and other actors of the system (states, large companies, as well as other non-state actors such as trade unions and professional associations) have a direct impact on global governance and on the new attempts to build international institutions.
As the above quotation stipulates, non-state actors such as non-governmental organizations and other associations have acquired “an international citizen personality,” in the current era. This is especially true in the struggle for the rights of migrants, which has an inherent global character that crosses traditional nation-state borders.
International immigration, along with other global phenomena such as environmental concerns, represents one of the crucial transnational political and social debates of the twenty-first century. While beneficial support for non-state actors can come from both the domestic and international levels, there are a plethora of obstacles that these non-state actors can also encounter at both levels.
In this section, I will address some of the political obstacles that non-state actors in Morocco face. Institutional restraints from the domestic political milieu in Morocco, described as “enlightened authoritarianism” or an “authoritarian system in transition” are indeed present. Furthermore, civil society groups grapple with the effects of Europe’s “externalization” of the migration problem, which, experts argue, puts enormous pressure on Morocco to quell migration flows through the Kingdom, by all means necessary. In short, I will address the key structural dilemmas present at both the domestic and international levels, in order to demonstrate how political reform for migrants appears an especially daunting task.
This section will focus on the general difficulties associated with affecting public policy in Morocco, specific challenges that non-state actors come across such as limitations on the freedom of association and the freedom of expression, as well as institutional limitations such as the lack of financial support and the lack of independence in the judicial system. Overall, while there have been initiatives to strengthen the power of the Parliament and civil society and reform the state of human rights in the country, the task is far from complete, and the state still wheels the power to circumscribe civil society actors and control the political agenda.
The AMERM study on associative life in Morocco highlighted several constraints for NGO’s related to human resources, inefficiency of training, financial problems, administrative problems, in terms of receiving official state recognition or organizing events, distance from the migrant population, lack of confidence between civil society actors and the migrant community, problems related to communication with Anglophone migrants, competition among civil society actors and especially mistrust of political parties and local elected officials. These are problems that related to the institutional situation of associations in Morocco and to the specific domain of reaching out to the sub-Saharan migrant community.
At an institutional level, there are several endogenous challenges that make dialogue between civil society and the state rather difficult. As described in the previous chapter, many civil society actors are skeptical of the National Council of Human Rights, questioning its independence and proximity to the Palace. While the National Council has participated in and hosted many conferences on the state of migrants and refugees in Morocco, there is a general skepticism among activists that this dialogue may lead to any concrete changes. While it does offer the opportunity for civil society actors to voice their concerns, which does show improvement from earlier points in Moroccan political culture, it does not appear to greatly affect policy decisions.
Civil society pressure has led to some improvements, such as the decrease in deportations of refugees, pregnant women, and children. This does represent an effort at challenging state hegemony in the realm of migration policy and practice. However, for the most part, the deportations that do occur nonetheless maintain an aggressive and discriminatory character, even if these deportations are contrary to many provisions in Morocco’s national laws and international commitments.
Furthermore the question of reforming the judiciary is essential for Morocco overall, and also in maintaining the rights of migrants. GADEM has cited a systematic lack of due process for migrants, as well as other limitations such as the lack of a translator and allotting only 48 hours to organize a defense or an appeal of the decision to deportation. Additionally, my personal experience has revealed an extreme lack of lawyers with expertise on the rights of irregular migrants and refugees in Morocco, especially in areas such as Oujda and Nador, where they are arguably most needed.
The reforms stipulated in the new constitution offer some hope in terms of combatting the notorious corruption in the judicial system, as well as the authorities influence on certain legal decisions. The reform of the judicial system is apparently on the top of the priority list of the new Benkiran government, however the fact remains that the King is still the national “arbiter of justice,” in that he appoints the members of the National Supreme Court.  This suggests a systemic challenge in terms of ensuring the independence of the judiciary and the implementation of justice in Morocco.
The liberty of expression and association are also affirmed in the 2011 constitution, but one must wait and see if there will be actual progression in these two areas. Challenges associated with maintaining theses liberties are still present in Morocco and represent another endogenous challenge to civil society activism and discussing taboo topics such as racism, police violence, and aggressions against sub-Saharan migrants.
Hicham Rachidi, a leading activist and member of GADEM, discussed how the state has traditionally used administrative mechanisms to hinder the abilities of certain organizations. In the 1980s, he claims “we saw this with taboo topics such as HIV/AIDS education or questions of corruption. It took years for ALCS and Transparency Maroc to become state-recognized organizations….and now it’s happening with associations like ours (GADEM) that focus on human rights violations and racism that immigrants face.” GADEM has still yet to achieve official state recognition, though this does not appear to significantly hinder its administrative capacities.
Human Rights Watch conducted a study in 2009, entitled “Morocco: Freedom to Create Associations, A Declarative Regime in Name Only,” which focused on the limits to freedom of association in several case studies. GADEM was among those investigated because it is not a state recognized organization and its leader at the time, Hicham Rachidi, was taken in by authorities and questioned about his political opinions. He was also asked to remove the reference to “racism” in the group’s name (anti-racist). The report concludes that:
In Morocco, both types of restrictions—provisions of the law that are repressive and the non -application of provisions that are progressive—constrain the right of persons to create and maintain associations. Specifically, the law on associations states that an association cannot exist legally if its objectives or aims are deemed “contrary to good morals” or “undermine” Islam, or the monarchy, or the country’s “territorial integrity,” or if it is deemed to “call for discrimination.”
The restrictions on undermining Islam, the monarchy, and the country’s “territorial integrity” (understood to mean Morocco’s claim to the disputed Western Sahara) are the well-understood red lines on free discourse in the country…
This report, as well as other examples of authorities intimidating groups and individuals that work with sub-Saharan immigrants, reveals the taboo nature of shedding light on questions of human rights violations and racism, especially when it involves police and military authorities.
Non-governmental organizations and other associations that focus specifically on exposing the abuses that immigrants face seem to be the primary actors that have come across some level of political intimidation. However, organizations such as Medicines sans Frontieres, which provides medical assistance to immigrants, have also faced intimidation by authorities. Furthermore, they were encouraged to leave Nador in 2010 by the Ministry of the Interior, even though some of the most vulnerable immigrant populations reside in this area.
In summary, the question of who wheels the power to control the political agenda in Morocco remains uncertain. While the dominance of the King and his shadow cabinet is certain, there have been attempts to increase the power of the Parliament, constitutional reforms were passed which reaffirmed the freedom of expression and association, and there has been increased dialogue between the civil society and the state, especially concerning human rights violations in Morocco.
Much remains to be seen in terms of implementing the stipulations of the new constitution, but I remain pessimistic about any discursive and policy changes concerning the rights of irregular migrants and the sub-Saharan migrant community, in general, in Morocco. The discussion of exogenous challenges to reform and the role of the European Union will provide further evidence to the validity of this assertion.
 These terms are taken from Boukars, Anouar in “Politics in Morocco: Executive Monarchy and Enlightened Authoritarianism,” (Routledge Study in Middle Eastern Politics, August 2010).
 Khachani, Mohammed, “Le Tissu associative,” (AMERM study), 2009, p 70.
 For example, on February 14, 2008 the Consultative Council of Human Rights organized a seminar on “La Protection des Refugies au Maroc,” which included representatives from the CCDH, the UNHCR, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and multiple professors. They discussed improving the rights of refugees in Morocco, and the UNHCR offered several recommendations, including allowing refugees to obtain a residency permit. While refugees are not so readily deported the same way they used to be, it is still seen as impossible for them to obtain a residency permit, and thus to really work or establish a life in Morocco.
 “Asked about the remaining challenges to freedom of association in Morocco, the Minister of the Interior replied he was “not aware of any particular problems”. Civil society representatives, however, identify five main impediments to freedom of association, deriving either from deficiencies in current legislation or, more importantly, a lack of implementation and enforcement in practice which limits the room for manoeuvre of Moroccan associations.” In Kausch, Kristina, Morocco: Negotiating change with the Makhzen; Project on Freedom of Association in the Middle East and North Africa, Fundacion Para Las Relaciones Internacionales y el Dialogo Exterior (FRIDE), February 2008, p 54.
 See Article 107 of the New Constitution, “Le Roi est le garant de l’independence du pouvoir judiciaire.”
 Also, the former president of the Council of sub-Saharan Migrants, Camara Laye, was arrested in October 2012. Many see this as a political intimidation tool being used against a well-known activist for the rights of migrants, a move that reveals the political nature of some arrests in the country. The charges of trafficking cigarettes and alcohol were grossly exaggerated by the police and eventually dropped. His trial concerning the falsification of documents continues to be postponed, mostly recently because there was no interpreter present. His trial is now set for February 19, 2013.
 Interview with Hicham Rachidi of Gadem, January 27, 2012.
 Human Rights Watch Report, “Morocco; Freedom to create associations, a declarative regime in name only,” USA, 2009, p.1.
 Interviews with Omar Diao(November 19,2011), Camara Laye (November 20, 2011), David Cantero-MSF (January 24, 2012); AMDH Press Conference on June 14, 2012, discussion with Marcel Amiyoto; See also GADEM report, “The Human Rights of sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco,” 2010.
 Interview with MSF-Spain, January 24, 2012.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Fulbright Program , Morocco World News, nor other affiliated organizations
Anna Jacobs graduated from the University of Virginia Phi Beta Kappa in 2010. She studied Foreign Affairs,Government, and French Language and Literature. She conducted research in 2009 in both Morocco and Algeria for her undergraduate thesis entitled “Sub-Saharan Migration in the Maghreb: the reality of race in Morocco and Algeria.”
To Be Continued …