The UN special rapporteur on racism has commended Morocco's international leadership on migration and its recognition of Tamazight as an official language with Arabic but also urged for action against racism.
Rabat – Tendayi Achiume, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, and related intolerance has urged Morocco to “adopt a comprehensive anti-racial discrimination legislative framework.” Achiume concluded her exploratory mission in Morocco on Friday.
While Achiume applauded Morocco’s constitutional provisions that prohibit all forms of discrimination, promote equality, guarantee the rights of non-citizens, and recognize Tamazight (Berber), she noted the lack of implementation of some of the provisions.
The rapporteur expressed special concern that Morocco has not yet adopted legislation to implement the constitutional provisions on Tamazight, noting the “absence of adequate Amazigh language facilities, including sworn, certified interpreters,” which hinders equal access to justice for Tamazight speakers.
“Morocco must adopt and implement the necessary domestic law to achieve full official status to Amazigh language as a matter of urgency,” she stated.
In 2016, Morocco presented draft laws 26.16 and 04.16, relating to the integration of Tamazight into national education and administrative institutions as well as the protection and development of both Arabic and Tamazight.
The draft laws aim to boost the status and usage of Tamazight in public administrations and services and in all “priority areas of public life,” including documents such as ID cards, passports, driving licenses, and banknotes.
According to a July statement from the speaker of the House of Representatives, Habib El Malki, the government does not want to rush the law being implemented, fearing the “complications” it may pose in the future, such as division or conflict in the Moroccan identity.
Achiume reported about “the marginalization” and “discrimination” that Amazigh (Berber) communities endure, especially the Amazigh people who move into cities.
The marginalization of the groups is seen in regions with limited infrastructure and state support for basic needs, including “water, sanitation, and adequate healthcare facilities.”
Morocco’s commendable approach to migration
The rapporteur praised Morocco’s human rights-based approach to migration. She gave the example of the Moroccan Constitution which states that “foreigners under Moroccan jurisdiction are entitled to enjoy the same fundamental freedoms granted to Moroccan citizens.”
Achiume welcomed Morocco’s recent decision to reject the European Union’s attempts to “locate offshore asylum processing or ‘regional disembarkation’ centres in the country.”
She also pointed out Morocco’s rejection of violating human rights by the “warehousing of migrants in immigration detention facilities.”
Noting the pressure to prevent migration from Africa to Europe, Achiume emphasized the “severe restrictions on freedom of movement, and serious human rights violations against regular and irregular migrants, especially black, sub-Saharan Africans.”
According to Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita, there is somewhat of an “exaggeration” concerning African migration.
In an interview with BBC following the migration conference in Marrakech on December 10, Bourita clarified misconceptions about African migrants, providing statistics.
“There are an estimated 256 million migrants globally, both documented and undocumented. From the 256 million migrants, 13 percent, or 36 million, are Africans. “From those 36 million, 80 percent or 30 million people immigrate within Africa,” Bourita said.
“African irregular migrants represent only 0.1 percent of world migrants in the US, Arab countries, and Europe,” he concluded.
Achiume concluded her report by commending Morocco’s efforts to ensure the rights of Jews in the country.
“I commend Morocco for the remarkable steps it has taken to ensure that Moroccan Jews have the full means to enjoy their rights to freedom of belief and association and other human rights. Similar rights and protection should be given to other religious minorities who report facing public restrictions on their rights to freedom of belief and association,” she said.
During her visit, which started on December 13, Achiume met with several Moroccan government officials, local NGOs, and victims of racism as part of her fact-finding mission.