Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco

by High Atlas Foundation
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco
Field Train Students, CSOs & Officials in Morocco

The Legal Clinic of the Faculty of Law in Fes, the National Commission in charge of the coordination of measures to fight and prevent human trafficking in the Kingdom of Morocco, and the European Council jointly organized a study and training in February 2022.

Human trafficking is a serious crime and a violation of human rights. It violates the human dignity of the victims and inflicts great suffering on them, particularly by using their vulnerable conditions to exploit them.

Trafficking is often associated with debates on migration, but in reality, it is not only a transnational phenomenon; it is also a crime with a strong internal dimension.

The exploitation of women, men, and children laboring in various legal and illegal economic sectors makes human trafficking often challenging to detect. Moreover, the victims of the crime rarely define themselves as such and are often unwilling to file a formal report with authorities. Additionally, the practices of traffickers evolve and adapt to different contexts quickly and efficiently.

Paradoxically, it is often the victims of trafficking who are the focus of the authorities’ attention, particularly when they are foreigners in an irregular situation or people exploited through prostitution or other illegal activities.

The two-day training in February gave us a solid educational base on the different elements that can lead us to detect the crime of human trafficking.

The speakers presented the institutional and legal framework, specifically the law 27-14 that allows institutions and Moroccan civil society to engage in the effort against trafficking in Morocco in a coherent and collaborative global response effort. In addition, the legislative framework also includes principles of the UN Palermo Protocol to prevent, suppress, and punish trafficking in persons, especially women and children, which defines this crime through the framework of three elements:

  • An action: recruitment, transportation, transfer, reception, and accommodation.
  • A means: threat, coercion or use of force, abduction, abuse of authority or weakness, fraud or deception.
  • A goal: exploitation; this can take on different forms, including pimping or sexual exploitation, forced labor (domestic, agricultural, or industrial), slavery or similar practices, servitude, obligation to commit crimes, organ removal, and trafficking.

The training also focused on detecting a victim of human trafficking, which was facilitated by Mrs. Sakmassi, Executive Director of Association Voix des femmes. This part of the training reinforced the operational capacities of identification and legal assistance to victims of human trafficking, guided by someone with expertise and knowledge of working in this field.

The last part of the training was a simulation exercise of a human trafficking trial that allowed us as participants to apply what we learned, enlightening us on the course of the trial proceedings before a judge.

In conclusion, it is essential to address the root causes of human trafficking--poverty, exclusion, social inequality, and gender discrimination--and strengthen strategies that counter the factors that promote the occurrence and perpetuation of trafficking. Doing so is critical because reactive measures will never be sufficient to eliminate the issue. Preventative measures and enhancing the socioeconomic landscape are key to a successful movement to eradicate human trafficking.

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Maimunah Mohd, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, gave a public lecture on March 14, 2022, organized by The Bartlett Development-Planning Unit, University College of London.

UN habitat executive director, Ms. Mohd, is learning on the cutting edge of innovation.

New tools must be applied: reforming and rethinking for unknown parameters in our environment. Ms. Mohd  questioned the audience on how to approach and deal with urban planning, identify challenges, and assist future challenges? As planners: look at infrastructure with a technical view. When zoning a space, planners should think of the parameters of the environment and the local people. The moment you plan and build, it is costly. Think about the criteria you want to achieve—especially the needs of the people.

“A supply-led approach to hit provision has often led to unintended and negative consequences for the people,” remarked Maimunah Mohd. We need to have a demand-driven, not supply-driven approach in the future. An excellent way to approach future urban development is a participatory approach with the selected community to better understand the wants and needs of the community and even discuss the contribution it can make to the project. 

Ms. Mohd brought an example at hand. She mentioned a drain built against gravity after a flood, which worsened the next one. On that note, she mentioned visiting and talking to the engineers of a development project in Cairo for a new bus lane in between busy public streets. At the Cairo development project, the project leaders told Ms. Mohd after she had suggested a change in the planned pedestrian access to the bus stations: “If a woman designs a city, it is a city designed for all.”

The prioritization of affordable housing was another heavily underlined aspect Ms. Mohd stressed. It should be seen as an investment into jobs since the youth only get to have an education if they have a roof over their heads, particularly in countries of the global south. An integrated approach needs to be applied to integrate and plan for future challenges and resilience. We need to make that impact for a changed, sustainable future. “Think global, act local. Think local, act global,” Ms. Mohd echoed the popular phrase for response to sustainable development. I believe this statement to be a significant and impactful one. 

The talk continued with the speaker enlightening the audience about the 765 million people still without access to electricity, and 2.6 billion people without access to clean cooking (those use plastic instead of wood or gas ovens since it is more affordable). The executive director for UN Habitat went on to say that the world is full of ongoing conflicts and war tensions; there will not be development. “No peace, no development” was her conclusion.

Building and planning equitable and sustainable cities are important, but how would we ensure actionable knowledge? We need to co-produce knowledge with various actors in a city. Bringing in people from different stages of life, backgrounds, and knowledge is essential to hear as many opinions and perspectives as possible, as well as to enjoy a better quality of life. Ms. Mohd stressed that shifting governance from looking at dealing with disasters to dealing with disastrous reduction is a big problem. 

Securing government assistance sustainably is how future development plans should be implemented: affordable housing, a participatory approach, and combined solidarity between citizens, as well as between citizens and nature. "I am actively nurturing the civil life of cities and territories. I am a civil servant.”  Maimunah Mohd said, which later Prof. Levy commented on by saying, “I love how you said you are a civil servant! We need more civil servants“ . She went on to say that this is a sense of public service that, for her, is so central to the solidarity and mutual care the conference has been talking about.

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On Friday the 11th of March, I attended the fifth annual international conference on education quality hosted and organized by the University Ibn Zohr of Agadir. The invited speakers’ talks I heard were focused on the general topic of “national and local policy initiatives.” This set’s chair was Ms. Roncevic from the University of Rijeka, Croatia. Dr. Ben-Meir was invited and held his talk on “education and sustainable development in Morocco.”

Dr. Ben-Meir started by underlining the importance of university students for the dynamic community-based process. Community-driven control of all aspects of the developing process is the primary factor that determines sustainability. Community participation is equal, if not more essential, than finance. In Morocco, community participation is embedded in programs, policies, and charters of the nation. It is integral to the inception of the National Initiative for Human Development, the basis for Moroccan decentralization. 

Even though these policies and programs exist, it is hard to thrive and grow this approach. It always comes to implementation where it comes to struggles. We have learned that in village communities where people come together, evaluate and identify what’s important to them in their locality, clean drinking water is still a top priority in rural Morocco. Besides that, irrigation, cooperative building, fruit tree agriculture, medicinal plants, and school infrastructure are the most frequent wishes for Moroccan communities. 

Participation and development have been shown to be more effective if the High Atlas Foundation (HAF) has had the prior opportunity for introspection. HAF follows community planning with Imagine empowerment workshops, where they address inhibitions, uncertainties, fears, etc., that withhold people from believing in their dreams and/or abilities. Dr. Ben-Meir clarified what allows HAF to expand these processes at a grander scale. He pointed out that HAF currently does not have enough trained facilitators to grow as much as he would wish and want to. Secondly, what challenges expansion is funding to implement the projects designed for this process. He remarked that in a typical rural community, the combined annual income among all the households is rarely over USD 20,000 - USD 30,000. In contrast, such a project including a well for drinking water, with an integrated irrigation design and infrastructure, and a solar water pump incorporated would come to about USD 40,000 - USD 50,000. 

Moudawana in Darija (Moroccan Arabic) translates to “Family-law.” Dr. Ben-Meir described that the vast majority of rural Moroccans do not know the term, yet the highly educated women HAF works closely with all know of it and know it to be a point of activism. Empowering and training university students experientially to be facilitators is critical to reaching more areas. He noted that most people they work with on these projects are illiterate, and they need to be writers to get funding. Closing up, he summarized by saying that HAF has learned all the approaches by doing. “It all is a process of learning by doing.” - Dr. Ben-Meir.

Concluding, this symposium was enlightening and inspiring at the same time. Dr. Ben-Meir conveyed essential aspects of HAF’s work approach and the right way for expansion and work, focusing on a sustainable and effective future in development for not only Morocco but also globally.

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On February 25th, HAF's President, Dr. Ben-Meir, and HAF's Program Manager, Benaadim, were invited by the US Embassy in Morocco and the Anoual Association to take part as speakers for the networking event of the first American Leadership Academy (ALA) in Quaryati in Sidi Abdellah Ghiat in Marrakech. 

It was a wonderful meeting with 61 young, ambitious participants aged between 20-25 years old who came from different parts of Morocco: 43 females and 18 males. The purpose of this gathering was to inspire youth participants with other regional leaders. It was a great pleasure to share HAF's mission, success stories, challenges, and achievements with the Moroccan community.

They were attentive, followed every single word, and did not hesitate to share their enquiries and ask for pieces of advice that can be helpful in their careers. The most repetitive questions from youth were as follows: What are the changes that HAF faced and how do we deal with them? What is the secret ingredient to HAF’s 22 years of success? HAF works hard to follow up different projects, with team proactivity and flexibility. The Foundation gathers a group of selfless youth willing to make a positive impact on remote and marginalized communities. They desire to work with farming families in different Moroccan communities.

By the end of the day, we were delighted to visit the participants’ stands and talk about the future impact of their work, and also happy to provide pieces of advice. HAF is always glad to help and receive potential volunteers who want to enhance their skills related to leadership and serve the Moroccan community with passion.

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It has become a certainty that access to legal information is nowadays paramount, and with it, the idea of a legal clinic has become the right way to deliver this knowledge with the aim of promoting the rights of vulnerable and weak groups of individuals in our society.

First of all, the concept of legal clinics as an experiment, dates back historically to American society, and then it began to appear in other societies. Moroccan society, like other societies, has adopted this experience as a modern and new one, and it has not yet been generalized in order to create a kind of interaction between theoretical and applied study in professions, especially those of a legal nature. Of course, the Moroccan university has adopted the experience of the legal clinic in order to open up to Moroccan society as a whole.

In this context, Ms. El Hajjami, High Atlas Foundation (HAF) Project Manager of the Legal Clinic in Marrakech (University of Cadi Ayyad, Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences) held a remote communication dialogue with members of HAF’s Legal Clinic in Fez, in coordination with its Project Manager, Mrs. Okbi, and including the Marrakech Legal Clinic’s trainees. The aim of sharing the experience of the Fez clinic was to generalize the experiences and expertise of the trainees so they could gain various skills and learn how these clinics operate.

Mrs. Okbi presented herself, explaining that she has been implementing HAF’s Legal Clinic in Fez and that she and its members felt fortunate to attend this networking meeting in order to exchange knowledge and experiences with the Marrakesh clinic’s trainees. She added that the one in Fez was launched in October 2019 by volunteer students from the USMBA in partnership with HAF and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) between the U.S. and the Middle East (MEPI). It works on five axes: immigration, asylum, human trafficking, family mediation, and entrepreneurship. It also focuses on supervising students in strengthening their abilities through a variety of courses offered throughout their training period in the legal clinic. Its tasks are to provide free legal aid to families, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and victims of human trafficking. They have signed several partnership agreements with the various actors involved in its fields of operation, whether in the public or private sectors, and they also assist holders of entrepreneurial projects, improving the beneficiaries' access to the labor market, within the framework of the participatory approach.

The Fez Legal Clinic contributed to the training of 40 students in 2019/2020, 41 students in 2020/2021, and more than 90 students in 2022. It conducted more than 18 training courses dealing with different topics.

With regard to the files and cases that were worked on in the clinic, 85 cases were opened, including the following: 

  • 38 files related to immigration;
  • 10 cases related to family mediation; 
  • 35 files related to entrepreneurship; 
  • one asylum case; and
  • one case related to human trafficking.

In this regard, the members took the time to explain to the Marrakech Legal Clinic’s students the method of resolving files or cases, as each file or case has unique information, in order to maintain contact with the beneficiary of the legal advice and to track their file. This information includes several items: 

  • the beneficiary’s full name; 
  • their national ID number; 
  • their address; 
  • their marital (social) status; 
  • their phone number; 

The second type of information that pertains to each file varies according to the type of file. If, for example, it is related to family mediation, the clinic is satisfied with personal information, but if it is related to an asylum seeker or immigration, the information also includes documents for the application for immigration or asylum or for determining residence in Morocco. In such cases, it is not possible to use only the national card, but it is necessary to specify other information related to their passport photo, a Moroccan residence permit, and other photographs, as well as any criminal record extracted from the Court. Just for reference, each file differs according to the case and according to the possible solutions.

Accordingly, the most important need that must be embodied in each file is confidentiality, in order to encourage the beneficiary who is requesting legal assistance to meet with those who share his problem.

The members of Fez Legal Clinic indicated that the method of resolving the files is done by connecting the beneficiaries of the legal advice to the Legal Clinic’s main center located in the Faculty of Legal, Economic and Social Sciences with the University, or the files are resolved through the mobile clinic, which provides legal advice to citizens and civil society in the Fez region who would otherwise have difficulty getting to the city.

In this regard, legal advice takes place in two ways: either depends on the consultation directly, or the aid is given over the phone.

After they shared their experience and role in the method of work, the trainees had a clear vision of how to work within the framework of providing legal advice and how to resolve files. Naturally, the lingering confusion in their minds was cleared.

At that time, Mrs. El Hajjami facilitated actual participation among the trainees by asking them questions related to the clinic. The first one was what the trainees should have as their main priority in the context of their research in the clinic. They also asked follow-up questions: What types of individuals come to the clinic to seek help or ask for legal advice? Regarding the issue of confidentiality, if the trainee is unable to find a solution to the beneficiary’s file, can he share the file’s information with other trainees in order to search for the solution to the file based on his responsibility?

The truth is that all the questions asked were answered by the members of the Legal Clinic in Fez, who clarified ambiguities, as the content of the questions was all related to the good implementation of the clinic’s tasks and role.

Finally, Mrs. El Hajjami thanked the members of the Legal Clinic in Fez for exchanging their experiences and expertise in the context of dispelling the confusion in the minds of the Marrakech Legal Clinic’s trainees with the aim of gaining various skills and learning from the way they work in Fez, within the framework of the participatory approach.

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High Atlas Foundation

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AtlasHigh
Project Leader:
Mouhssine Tadlaoui-Cherki
Director, Centre pour le Consensus Communautaire et le Developpement, Mohammedia, MAROC Durable
NYC, NY (US) and Marrakech, Al Haouz (Maroc), Morocco
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