By Siham Ali
Morocco is placing the issue of domestic crime on its priority list after MPs called for an all-encompassing approach to curb the problem and deal with youth unemployment.
“Forty per cent of young people aged between 15 and 34 are unemployed,” Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) MP Ahmed Reda Chami, said. “Some are committing crimes.”
The country needs a strategy that will deliver not only adequate human resources to maintain security, but also jobs, he pointed out, calling for co-operation between different governmental departments to reduce crime.
Interior Minister Mohand Laenser said that crime stems from both social problems, such as poverty and unemployment, and religious issues, such as extremism.
Crime in Morocco has affected many members of the public, which raises security concerns in large and medium-sized cities.
Rachida Selhami, 28, was mugged twice close to her home, in broad daylight.
“The first time was six months ago. A young man who couldn’t have been more than 19 accosted me and threatened me by holding a knife to my throat. He took my bag and ran off. It was only 4pm and the street was full of people. No one noticed anything,” she told Magharebia.
“The second time was two months ago. Two men in their thirties threatened me with a sabre just after I got off a bus. One of them even insisted that I go with them. I feared the worst. Luckily, my tears made them think twice. They just took my bag and the jewellery that I was wearing”, she said tearfully.
Hanaa Garnaoui, 22, was attacked while waiting for a bus at a station: “I was waiting for the bus with two other girls and a young man. My attacker pointed his weapon at me and took everything I had while the other people watched passively. He even criticised me for working when he was unemployed. This awful incident has left me traumatised and I don’t go out on my own anymore.”
Although some cases of violence have occurred, people should not be alarmed, according to the interior minister. An emergency plan is being put together that involves the use of new technologies and the deployment of community police officers.
The resources implemented as part of the 2008-2012 five-year plan have enabled the security services to step up their efforts to tackle crime and helped to prevent deterioration in security across all Moroccan regions, he said.
More than 500,000 cases were investigated in 2011. Over 85% were solved and the offenders were arrested very quickly, according to official figures.
“We are continuing to implement an integrated strategy aimed at ensuring that people feel safe, in particular by increasing the presence of security officers on public roads so that they can prevent crime and deter would-be offenders,” Laenser said.