Implementing anti-trafficking legislation: Morocco and Tunisia share similar challenges

 

Tunis, Tunisia, 7 March 2018 - Although 2016 saw both Morocco and Tunisia adopt their respective anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) legislation, a recent training event on the critical role of the judiciary in combatting TIP revealed that both countries face similar challenges in implementing their TIP legislation. The event, held from 26 February to 1 March 2018 in Tunis, was organized by UNODC in partnership with the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons. GLO.ACT facilitated the attendance of five Moroccan magistrates from various appeal courts in the country.

Morocco and Tunisia Workshop on TIP

Addressing the training event, Ms. Raoudha Laâbidi, President of the National Anti-Trafficking Committee of Tunisia said, "Proper implementation of the law requires working together on two fronts. First, outreach and awareness raising enables stakeholders and the general public to understand the definition and issue of trafficking in persons. Second is capacity building for stakeholders. Last year, together with UNODC, the committee engaged in extensive consultations with ministerial departments, civil society, the media and international organizations to develop a national strategy. It should be formally adopted soon."

What became clear during the training was that both countries encounter many difficulties in the field. One of the key challenges in both countries is the successful identification of potential TIP victims. On this issue, Ms. Laâbidi said, "This is not just the work of judges and prosecutors but of all the players involved: customs officials, labour inspectors, social workers as well as child protection officers." According to Mr. David Mancini, a prosecutor from Italy and a subject matter expert, "access to assistance for victims should not depend exclusively on the recognition of this status by a judicial authority after conviction but on the identification of the criteria that heralds a trafficking situation. This is not only the work of justice alone but also of all those involved in the national referral mechanism."

Meanwhile, Mr. David Izadifar, UNODC Regional Criminal Intelligence Analyst, observed that, "Tunisia is not alone in facing these difficulties. That is why we have brought together international experts, judges and prosecutors from the United Kingdom, Egypt, Italy, Belgium and Morocco for this training to share experiences and good practices in the fight against this scourge."

During the training event, participants discussed the need to build a common perception of TIP, as well as the need to enhance the ability to communicate and coordinate with a wide range of stakeholders. In fact, this is one of the tasks of the coordination mechanisms, as provided for by Moroccan and Tunisian legislation. During the event, discussions on the more technical difficulties relating to the establishment of facts enabling criminal classification also took place. To help with this, practical cases and exchanges focused on collecting evidence. This includes interviewing alleged victims without subjecting them to re-victimization to establish facts in the absence of evidence, while ensuring, over time, the assistance and protection of victims' rights. 

Speaking on victim assistance, Ms. Souad Gougas, Deputy Attorney General at the Rabat Court of Appeal, explained that "one of the difficulties we face is the crucial issue of accommodation. Even if the law exists and provides for state intervention to afford housing for victims, in practice it is rarely mobilized due to a lack of resources. Cooperation with civil society is therefore essential." 

Morocco and Tunisia Workshop on TIP

At the end of the training, 32 magistrates returned to their respective jurisdictions. On the Tunisian side, this training covered 14 governorates. On the Moroccan side, 4 Appeal Courts in addition to the central administration of the Public Prosecutor's Office now have trained magistrates. Both countries share the intention for them to become the focal points for human trafficking cases. Looking ahead, there is now also a commitment to build intersectoral victim-centered networks. The justice departments in Morocco and Tunisia are off to a good start so far.

The Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT) is a four-year (2015-2019), €11 million joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The project is being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). GLO.ACT aims to provide assistance to governmental authorities and civil society organizations across 13 strategically selected countries: Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Ukraine. It supports the development of more effective responses to trafficking and smuggling, including providing assistance to victims of trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and direct support mechanisms.

 

For more information, please contact:

Younes Benmoumen, National Project Coordinator, UNODC (Rabat, Morocco)

younes.benmoumen@un.org

 

www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/glo-act/

Email: glo.act@un.org

Twitter:   @glo_act