Police arrested three suspects in connection with a clandestine irregular migration operation in Tan Tan, Morocco.
Rabat – The Tan Tan Provincial Security District in southern Morocco apprehended three suspects Tuesday, August 11 for suspected involvement in coordinating irregular migration.
Police busted the clandestine migration operation after receiving detailed information from the Directorate General of Territorial Surveillance (DGST).
The suspects were taken into custody for “their alleged links to a criminal network involved in the organization of irregular migration and human trafficking,” according to Morocco’s state media. Arrests included a 34-year-old Gambian national.
The General Directorate of National Security (DGSN) released a statement following the arrests. They said the suspects were “preparing to organize an illegal migration operation from the coasts of the town Tan Tan.”
Police took the three suspects into custody. They seized two light vehicles, six mobile phones, and a sum of money, believed to come from the criminal activity.
Irregular migration and Morocco
While there is no universally-accpeted definition for irregular migration, the Migration Data Portal explains that it “refers to both the movement of people in an undocumented fashion, or irregular migration flows, and the number of migrants whose status may, at any point, be undocumented, or irregular migrant stocks.”
As part of Tuesday’s raid in Morocco, security services also apprehended seven candidates for irregular migration. The suspected individuals include five nationals from sub-Saharan countries, one from Bangladesh, and one from Sri Lanka, according to the DGSN statement.
The candidates for irregular migration are now the subject of a judicial investigation by Morocco’s public prosecutor’s office.
They could face separate repercussions for their undocumented status in Morocco. The DGSN hopes the investigation will help to clarify the circumstances of the case and to identify other potential accomplices.
Morocco’s efforts to combat migrant smuggling and human trafficking
Though Morocco has come under fire for human trafficking issues in the past, the government has been strengthening its approach to fight irregular migration and human trafficking, including migrant smuggling, for years.
In July 2020, The US Department of State released the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report, placing Morocco in its “Tier 2 category.” This means that Morocco “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” based on data from 2019. However, it retained its Tier 2 status because of the government’s increased efforts to solve the issue.
According to the report, the Moroccan government improved its efforts to prosecute traffickers, but “did not disaggregate data to distinguish human trafficking from migrant smuggling crimes.”
The report criticized Morocco for continuing to “forcibly relocate some sub-Saharan African migrants from the areas near Ceuta and Melilla—a highly vulnerable population to trafficking in Morocco—without instituting measures to screen for trafficking indicators.”
Morocco has taken great strides, however, to decrease migrant smuggling and human trafficking in recent years, registering 719 victims of human trafficking between 2017 and 2019.
In 2019, Morocco registered 151 cases of human trafficking, compared to 80 in 2018 and 17 in 2017. Total cases from 2017 to 2019 amount to 248. During the same period, Moroccan courts prosecuted 585 people for human trafficking crimes, including 144 women and 84 foreigners.
Morocco’s human trafficking awareness campaign
On April 20, 2019 the Moroccan Public Ministry, in partnership with UN Women, launched an awareness-raising campaign in Rabat on human trafficking in Morocco.
The campaign aimed to inform local bodies and the general public about human trafficking in Morocco as well as Moroccan Law 27.14, which sets out a framework for prosecuting human trafficking crimes, in line with international laws.
The ministry launched the campaign as part of a broader program to ensure “access to legal services for women and children victims of human trafficking in Morocco.”
Upon its launch in 2019, the program featured two short animated videos explaining human trafficking for social media, a short documentary that was shown on 2M and National Society of Radio and Television (SNRT), and a brief radio broadcast.