Rabat — Now that Morocco has become a country with sustainable immigration, it is beginning to take another look at how it tackles the human tide.
The country hosts legal migrant workers, a relatively large number of foreign students, asylum-seekers, refugees and illegal migrants who have often been "in transit" for many years. Criticism was recently levelled at the government about its handling of immigration, and illegal immigration from sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
Against this background, the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) submitted a report to the king on September 9th. The following day, the monarch held a working meeting attended by the prime minister, several ministers and senior officials to discuss various aspects of immigration with a view to introducing a new national migration policy.
According to a statement issued by the monarch's office, in addition to immigration from sub-Saharan Africa, Morocco has also witnessed a new form of immigration from countries such as Spain, France and other European countries as a result of the global economic crisis.
The king reiterated the need to resolve the situation of these people in terms of residence and the activities that they pursue in order to put them on the same footing as legal immigrants of other nationalities, including sub-Saharan immigrants.
Besides recommending a humanitarian approach, King Mohammed VI also stressed the need to tackle networks that traffic and trade in human beings. He urged the government to devise and implement without delay an appropriate strategy and action plan in partnership with CNDH and the various stakeholders in order to shape an overarching immigration policy.
The CNDH recommended that authorities launch a national survey on the phenomenon of human trafficking and develop a national plan to tackle human trafficking in a co-ordinated manner. This can be achieved by boosting collaboration between the various departments that combat human trafficking, such as the border police, the gendarmerie and the judiciary.
Driss El Yazami, the president of the CNDH, said the various aspects of the issue need to be addressed, especially since Morocco's new constitution guarantees rights for foreign nationals.
Meanwhile, African immigrants long for a better future. Marcel Amyeto, the secretary-general of the Union of Migrant Workers in Morocco, which is affiliated with the Democratic Labour Organization, was pleased by the reports of progress on the issue.
"Today is a great day for us migrants because the recommendations made by the CNDH have given us hope for a promising future. The CNDH asked for a humanitarian approach to be developed instead of a security-based approach to migrants in general and those from sub-Saharan Africa, asylum-seekers and refugees in particular," he said.
However, some experts believe that the humanitarian approach must not eclipse security measures under any circumstances.
"Had it not been for the policy of monitoring illegal emigration attempts with the support of the European Union, Morocco could have faced real security problems," sociologist Rime Cherrat said. "Migration is an issue that concerns the borders of the Maghreb. These borders are subject to security threats. This makes regional co-operation essential."