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UN rights expert urges Morocco to combat human trafficking

UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons urged Morocco on Tuesday to adopt a victim-centered approach [press release] to combat human trafficking [JURIST news archive] in the country. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo [official profile] said [UN News Centre report] "[v]ictims of trafficking are most often not being identified or being misidentified as smuggled and/or irregular migrants due [to] the absence of appropriate tools and protocols for victim identification." Morocco ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons [text, PDF], which represents a commitment to preventing, combating and protecting trafficking victims. However, according to the Special Rapporteur the country has not implemented adequate victim protection measures. Ezeilo recommended implementing a "data collection mechanism for determining the prevalence rate, forms, trends and manifestation of human trafficking in the country," as well developing a national plan of action that will include measures to reduce vulnerability of potential victims and ensure adequate protection of migrants.

Morocco has had a controversial human rights record. In January the Moroccan government announced plans to change [JURIST report] Article 475 of the Moroccan Penal Code, which allows rapists to avoid charges if they marry their victims. Protesters rallied [JURIST report] against the law and called for reform following the suicide of a minor [AFP report] who was forced to marry her rapist. Article 475, translated from French, reads, "When a minor removed or diverted married her captor, the latter can not be prosecuted on the complaint of persons entitled to apply for annulment of marriage and can not be sentenced until after the cancellation of marriage has been pronounced."

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