The legalization of undocumented immigrants is one of the most contentious issues in any immigration reform discussions. However, Morocco pledged to promote and protect migrants’ rights, focusing more on human rights and combating human trafficking networks. Rules concerning refugees, asylum seekers and, more in general, foreigners living in the Kingdom whose administrative position has not been legalized will change. Mohamed VI pushed for the reform on his country’s immigration policies at the recommendation of the National Council of human rights (CNDH) which had demanded public policies to protect migrants’ rights.
The first turn on migration initiated in 2014 was welcomed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailing the guidelines of HM King Mohammed VI to the government to elaborate and implement a strategy and an action plan on migration.
“As one of the first member States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1993), the Secretary-General welcomes the announcement by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who gave his instructions to the Moroccan government to design and implement an appropriate strategy and action plan with a view to formulating a comprehensive policy on migration”, and “its call for the rights of migrants,” the Office of the Spokesperson of the UN told Moroccan Press Agency.
In this regard, the Secretary-General urged the Moroccan government to implement the recommendations of the Moroccan National Council for Human Rights (CNDH), that focus on four major components:
Refugees and asylum seekers — Establish a legal and institutional framework for asylum and legally recognize refugee status as issued by UNHCR, issuing residency documents to statutory refugees. Establish integration policies and support for refugees and their families. Foreigners with irregular administrative status — Ban all forms of violence against undocumented migrants during arrest procedures and respect existing rights of foreigners under the Constitution. Provide registration for new births and death certificates, and guarantee access to labor inspectors without fear of retribution. Human trafficking — Reform the criminal code to prohibit all human trafficking, and expand the legal definition of exploitation and protection of victims and witnesses. Launch a national survey to establish the scope of the problem and develop a collaborative national plan of action, with training programs for law enforcement and better departmental and international cooperation. Documented immigrants — Revise laws to expand the rights of documented immigrants in political participation and trade union association.
In recent years, Morocco has become a haven for migrants, particularly those from sub-Saharan Africa. The migration issue has totally changed settings in Morocco. Countries traditionally provider migrants, especially to Europe, moved to the status of a transit country to finally become a final destination to which tens of thousands of illegal immigrants flock . Since European countries have closed their borders , Morocco was alone on the southwest flank of the EU to cope with a global phenomenon. Transported by smuggling networks with cross-border implications , most illegal immigrants come to Morocco by the borders of Mauritania and Algeria .
Initially, Morocco is just a step for those illegal immigrants who seek at all costs to reach Spanish territory . But faced with the closure of Europe citadel and strengthened border control, attempts by some groups to force their way into the other side usually result into casualties and victims from both the Moroccan security forces and clandestine . These ensuing attempts have become rare due to the great efforts deployed by ?Moroccan authorities in their fight against human trafficking.
Today , the number of sub-Saharan illegal immigrants present in Morocco is increasing . Most are desperate to succeed to cross the the Straits of Gibraltar. Morocco gradually has become their default home ground. However, the ever-increasing flow of illegal immigrants has an unsustainable pressure on Morocco, itself facing a high unemployment rate among its own youth.
On the eve of the first phase of the legalization process of the undocumented immigrants, the sovereign stated that such a move will endow the Kingdom with the right tools to play a prominent and an active role in the regional and international scene in terms of migration management,” stressing that “the Royal initiative, which is part of the deep welcoming traditions of the Kingdom, reflects the constant involvement of the sovereign for the protection of human rights in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the requirements of the rule of law, and in accordance with Morocco’s international commitments.”
His Majesty the King then gave his directions to the government to proceed without delay to the development and implementation of a strategy and an appropriate action plan in coordination with the the Moroccan National Council for Human Rights (CNDH) and other concerned stakeholders , with a view to formulating a comprehensive policy on immigration.
“Given the success of the first phase of the regularization campaign that took place in 2014, HM the King gave his high instructions for the launching of the second phase of the process, as already planned by the end of 2016,” the source pointed out.
This second phase, which will be launched immediately, will take place under the same conditions as the first phase, which involved about twenty-five thousand people. In a speech to the nation on the anniversary of the Revolution of the King and the People, the King said that “Morocco was one of the first countries of the South to adopt a genuine solidarity-based policy regarding sub-Saharan migrants.”
“This integrated policy, which is rooted in humanitarian values, is designed to make sure migrants’ rights and dignity are safeguarded,” the Sovereign added.“As part of the implementation of this policy, my country has, without any arrogance, pomposity or discrimination, regularized the situation of migrants using fair and reasonable standards. It has provided the conditions needed for migrants to reside, work and lead a dignified life within our community,” the King pointed out.
“This is hardly surprising on the part of Moroccans, considering the way they always treat their guests. Generosity, hospitality and the warmth of their welcome have long been deep-rooted features of our identity and culture.”
“I am deeply satisfied to note that migrants are hardworking people, who are known for their good behavior, their commitment to the rule of law and their respect for Moroccan values and sanctities.” “Let me add, in this regard, that we are only fulfilling our duty towards these people, whose circumstances have led them to risk their lives and leave their families and homeland.”
“Morocco, which has long rejected the methods adopted by some to address migration issues and which have turned out to be a failure, is proud of what it is doing in terms of receiving and integrating migrants. It will keep up this practical, humanitarian approach.” The King stated.
The Royal initiative illustrates the constant King’s involvement for the protection of human rights in accordance with Constitutional provisions, the requirements of the rule of law, and in accordance with the international commitments of Morocco. The King has always emphasized the need to relentlessly pursue the fight against human trafficking networks. He ordered his ministers to develop a new universal immigration policy that would in part seek to integrate undocumented migrants and will contribute effectively to the international community efforts to put an end to this human phenomenon.
Finally, it is worth reminding that Germany and Morocco will jointly assume the chairmanship of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) on January 1, 2017. The focus will be on how the GFMD can contribute to a United Nations Global Compact on Migration. The compact is intended to constitute a strong signal to the international community for an enhanced global migration policy and is to be adopted by the community of states in 2018.