Rabat – In a recent report written following a visit to Morocco for the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism Tendayi Achiume called on Morocco to fulfill its anti-discrimination and racial equality commitments.
Achiume praised the Moroccan government’s 2011 Constitution for its “vision of a diverse but unified society, where all can enjoy full human rights and full political and social membership.”
However, she cautioned that this vision “is one that the Government of Morocco – like all other governments, must continue to work hard to implement.”
“Equality in law alone does not ensure equality in fact,” the Special Rapporteur continued. “Serious challenges persist and important work remains to be done to ensure racial equality and the right of all persons to be free from racial discrimination.”
In her report, Achiume cited the lack of a comprehensive anti-racism framework as one of the biggest holes in Morocco’s fight to ensure equality.
“Contrary to recommendations made by a variety of international and national stakeholders, Morocco has no comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation or specific law prohibiting racial discrimination,” said Achiume. This lack of framework hinders the enjoyment of human rights in Morocco, she added.
“The adoption of a new law, or amendments to existing legislation, are urgently needed to fully implement the racial equality framework contained in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”
“Amazigh communities persistently discriminated against”
Achiume, who took up her role as UN Special Rapporteur on Racism in 2017, said that “persistent discrimination faced by Amazigh communities” further underscores this lack of legal framework. Amazigh people face discrimination, structural exclusion, and racist stereotyping on the basis of their Amazigh language and culture, said Achiume.
She added that Amazigh women, in particular, are disadvantaged. “Amazigh women reported that they often experienced multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on account of their gender and their Amazigh identity.”
The UN expert says this discrimination requires the Moroccan government to “immediately ensure that individuals with Amazigh heritage enjoy, among other rights, equal access to justice, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, and economic, social and cultural rights.”
She also referred to Article 5 of the Moroccan Constitution on the status of Amazigh language, calling the government to implement it through the adoption of organic laws.
Further reforms needed to protect migrants and refugees
Her report not only focused on Amazigh communities, it also highlighted the discrimination migrants and refugees allegedly face in Morocco, who mostly come from Subsaharan Africa.
“Some migrants and refugees, especially those of black, sub-Saharan origin, reported incidents of racist and xenophobic stereotyping when accessing health care, housing, education and employment, and in other settings.”
Achiume also expressed concern that Subsaharan migrants are subject to forced relocations, evictions, and racial profiling, as well as other forms of discrimination. According to Achiume, further reforms are needed to ensure their rights to racial equality and freedom from racial discrimination.
“Although national law and policy guarantees a range of rights to migrants and refugees on an equal basis in all of these contexts, rights violations persist and discrimination remains a key barrier to integration,” she said.
She also urged Morocco to “stop any and all immigration enforcement policies that result in gross human rights violations, including in forests in the north and other regions close to its frontiers with Europe. “
Europe’s role in the treatment of migrants and refugees in Morocco
She added that to ensure the rights and safety of migrants in Morocco, “the European Union and its member states must take responsibility for the role they must play.”
“Europe must take active steps to create legal pathways for migration, including for Moroccans and other African migrants who seek to migrate. And international organizations, including the International Organisation for Migration, must ensure that human rights are front and center in all practices,” she said.
Despite the reforms she recommended, Achiume finished off the report by acknowledging and commending Morocco for its leadership and “tremendous steps to advance the human rights of migrants and refugees.”
She also said was heartened by the government’s “political will” and “praiseworthy commitment” to protecting and integrating these vulnerable populations. She also praised the government’s “rejection of European Union attempts to locate offshore asylum processing or “regional disembarkation” centers within Moroccan territory.”