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Cablegate: 2007 Morocco Update of the Worst Forms of Child Labor

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHCL #0254/01 3481920
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141920Z DEC 07
FM AMCONSUL CASABLANCA
TO RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7922
INFO RUEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASH DC
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 8171
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 2071
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 2951
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 2306
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 3762
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0299
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0614
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0330
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0968
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0641

UNCLAS CASABLANCA 000254

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

LABOR FOR DOL/ILAB TINA MCCARTER

STATE ALSO FOR DRL/IL TU DANG, DRL/NESCA, NEA/RA, NEA/MAG, NEA/ENA,
G/IWI, AND G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EIND ETRD EAID PHUM SOCI KWMN USAID MO
SUBJECT: 2007 MOROCCO UPDATE OF THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR

REF: STATE 158223

------------------------
SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION
------------------------

1. Summary: This message provides requested updates for the
Department of Labor's annual report on the Worst Forms of Child
Labor and Morocco's commitment to combat and eliminate them. It
updates information provided by Post in 2006 and years prior,
concerning Morocco's child labor laws and regulations, law
enforcement efforts, information on violations and prosecutions,
governmental, and non-governmental programs, and policies to
eradicate child labor.

2. The Government of Morocco (GOM) recognizes that there is an
ongoing problem with child labor in the country and has made
significant progress towards eradication of the problem. In recent
years, Morocco has strengthened several legal codes aimed at ending
the exploitation of children. In 2004, the Government passed
reforms to the Family Code, the Labor Code, and the Penal Code, all
of which strengthened children's rights. These laws are detailed in
Post's 2004 and 2005 reports. In addition, the GOM adjusted the
ages for compulsory schooling from 7-13 to 6-15 in 2000.

3. Last year we reported that NGOs were taking the lead in the
fight against the growing problem of child sex tourism. This year,
however, the GOM appears to be acknowledging the problem and working
towards a plan of action to fight the phenomenon. They have also
begun training health care professionals to deal with the issue. In
addition, in November, Morocco hosted the Annual General Assembly of
INTERPOL. At the meeting, INTERPOL adopted the decision to make
pedophilia and trafficking in persons priorities in the coming year.
The move was seconded by Morocco which has also pledged to make the
issue a priority. END SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION.

----------------------------------
MOROCCO CONFORMS LEGALLY BUT......
----------------------------------

4. In recent years Morocco has amended more than 240 articles of
legislation to enhance the rights of children. These amendments
were subsequently adopted by the Government and passed into law by
Parliament to conform with international obligations as a signatory
of the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Children.
However, the country continues to suffer from a high rate of child
labor due to lack of enforcement of these laws.

5. Child labor in general is prohibited in Morocco's labor code.
However, domestic labor of adults and children remains unregulated.
While a bill regulating domestic labor was proposed over a year ago,
the Minister of Social Development, Families and Solidarity recently
announced additions to the proposed bill specifically addressing the
problem of child domestics. The new proposal would formally forbid
the hiring of girls under age 15 as domestic workers. Moreover, for
the first time it would punish those who recruit the young girls for
domestic labor. The adoption of the bill appears to be stalled over
a section that would allow labor inspectors to enter private homes,
something they are reluctant to do.

----------------------------------
...HAS DIFFICULTY WITH ENFORCEMENT
----------------------------------

6. Application of minimum age of employment law continues to be
flouted in both the formal and informal sectors. According to
Ministry of Justice (MOJ) officials, no Moroccan employer has ever
been convicted of employing a child under the age of 15 despite the
acknowledgement that there is a child labor problem in the country.
Since 2005 several employers have been convicted of abuse of child
domestics but not prosecuted for their illegal employment.
Morocco's informal sector, where the majority of children work, is
not monitored by the Ministry of Labor's small cadre of labor
inspectors. Currently, there are no labor inspectors dedicated
solely to child labor issues. The Ministry of Labor, however, is
developing a plan to employ labor inspectors exclusively dedicated
to the domestic labor market.

-------------------------------------------
GOVERNMENT EFFORTS TO ERADICATE CHILD LABOR
-------------------------------------------

7. The GOM continues to make the elimination of child labor a
national priority. In January 2007 Morocco launched the first phase
of the National Plan of Action for Children. Phase one, the
awareness campaign, lasted from January 22 to February 23 and used
print media, radio and television to disseminate information about
the dangers of child labor.

8. Phase two, completed in March 2007, encompassed the signing of
five conventions or compacts between the Ministry of Social
Development, Families and Solidarity and various partners in
preparation of the implementation of phase three of the plan.
-- The first compact, with the King's National Initiative for
Human Development (INDH), will integrate the INDH goal of attacking
poverty in Morocco with the elimination of child domestics by
providing assistance and education to families who find it necessary
to allow daughters to work as domestics in order to supplement the
family income.
-- The Secretariat of State for Literacy and Non-Formal Education
agreed, in compact two, to continue the awareness campaign begun in
early 2007, educating Moroccans on the dangers of employing or
working as a child domestic. In addition, the Secretariat pledged
to increase non-formal education programs targeted at former child
maids with the goal of reintegrating them into the formal education
system.
-- The third compact, concluded with the National Observatory for
the Rights of Children (ONDE), will mobilize different partners,
governmental and non-governmental, to conduct programs warning
against the employment of child maids. The ONDE will also continue
to work on programs to assist child victims of abuse through legal
and financial support, call centers, and programs for the protection
of child maids.
-- Twenty million dirham (USD 2.6 million) was committed for
further implementation of the Plan of Action by the Moroccan Agency
for Social Development in the fourth compact. This money will be
used to develop the capacities of families to help them create
income generating projects to supplement a meager income instead of
placing their children in the labor market.
-- The final compact was signed with Zakoura Foundation, Morocco's
largest micro-credit NGO. The Foundation agreed to prioritize loans
for families who allow their children to be withdrawn from the labor
market and reintegrated into the educational system on a permanent
basis.

9. The third and final phase of the Plan, which will continue until
2015, has initiated the process of implementing the agreements noted
above. The project is underway in Greater Casablanca, concentrating
in the regions of Doukkala-Abda and Chaouia-Ouerdigha, Marrakech
focusing on the regions of Tansift-El Haouz, Rabat targeting the
regions of Rabat-Sale and Zemmour-Zaer, Fez and Fez-Boulemane, Taza,
Taounate and Errachidia, all areas known to be struggling with high
percentages of the worst forms of child labor.

10. The GOM currently recognizes that the phenomenon of child
sexual exploitation in Morocco in the form of child sex tourism is
on the rise, partly as a consequence of the rapid expansion of the
number of general tourists. No statistics are available at this
time. Recently, however, post learned of a planned study to access
the overall problem of trafficking in Morocco. The study, to be
sponsored by International Organization for Migration, UNHCR,
UNICEF, and UNIFEM will be conducted by UNDP. The study is
scheduled to begin in January 2008 with results to be reported by
UNICEF in early summer. The problems of sex tourism and children
trafficked for labor in Morocco will be covered in the study. To
address this growing problem, the GOM is in the planning stages of a
new National Strategy for the Prevention of the Sexual Exploitation
of Children. The GOM, through the ONDE, conducted workshops in
Marrakech with regional health care professionals on the treatment
of child victims of physical and sexual abuse.

-----------------------------
THE EXPENSE OF FREE EDUCATION
-----------------------------

11. While Moroccan law calls for free mandatory education for
children ages 6-15, according to national statistics only 86 percent
of Morocco's children reach the fifth grade and approximately only
20 percent graduate from high school. The situation is worse in
rural areas where girls' attendance can be as low as 20 percent.
Access to education for children in urban areas presents few
obstacles; however, in rural areas the level of access is limited at
best. Lack of adequate facilities beyond primary education in most
rural communities often ensures that young girls will not attend
secondary school. Parents are far less likely to send a female
child away to boarding school or allow her to travel any distance
away from home to attend classes, due to cultural and safety
reasons. Moreover, the expense of sending a child away to school is
often prohibitive for rural families. Given the choice between
sending a female or male child to school most families opt for the
male child. Education of a male child is often seen as an
investment in the future whereas the education of the female child
beyond primary school is frequently viewed as an unnecessary

expense.

12. Another reason for low attendance in rural areas is an absence
of teachers. There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that
teachers in rural areas are absent a great many days a year.
Teachers' absences are often due to the governmental system of
appointing young teachers to rural areas far from the family home.
The teachers frequently travel home for weeks at a time while the
absences are overlooked due to lack of sufficient oversight in the
rural areas.

13. In addition, economic issues prevent some Moroccan children,
who are unable to afford the approximately 200 dirhams (25 USD) for
books and supplies, from attending class. An added factor may be
that according to a recent UNICEF study, 87 percent of all Moroccan
school children report that they are subject to some kind of
violence in school.

----------------
UNCLEAR PROGRESS
----------------

14. Accurate data on child labor in Morocco is unavailable. On
November 20, the new Minister of Social Development, Families and
Solidarity, Nouzha Skalli, announced that the total number of
children in the labor force was approximately 177,000. This
estimate cuts the number quoted by other ministries, government and
non-government entities in recent years by more than 400,000. The
number formerly used in official and unofficial circumstances was
600,000 which was derived from a 2000 survey conducted jointly by
the GOM, the International Organization for Migration, UNICEF and
the World Bank. Many NGOs dealing with child labor issues believe
the newly announced statistics significantly underestimate the
problem.

15. These same NGOs estimate that tens of thousands of girls, some
as young as five, still work as child domestics. Underage boys
often work as low paid "apprentices" in garages or as laborers.
Both boys and girls still work in the handicraft sector throughout
the country and in Fez and Marrakech in particular. The number of
programs to rescue child laborers in Morocco, both governmental and
non-governmental, continues to increase each year leading to
consistently diminishing number of child laborers. The majority of
child laborers work in the agricultural sector mainly on family
farms.

---------------------------
TRAFFICKING AND SEX TOURISM
---------------------------

16. Children are trafficked domestically for labor. The highest
rate of trafficking is for child domestics. Young girls are
trafficked mainly from rural areas to work primarily in Rabat,
Casablanca and Marrakech. Family, friends, or professional
intermediaries match the girls with employers in larger cities. In
most cases the intermediaries receive a placement fee in addition to
a monthly percentage of the child's pay. The system is similar for
boys working as apprentices. Young women are trafficked to large
cities to work as prostitutes. Agadir is a known sex tourism
destination with underage female prostitutes catering to a largely
Arab/Gulf clientele. There are an increasing number of reports that
young boys are being trafficked to large cities, Marrakech in
particular, to serve as prostitutes as well. NGOs, such as "Don't
Touch my Child," report that the level of child sex tourism in
Morocco has increased dramatically in recent years.

-------
COMMENT
-------

17. There is little doubt that the GOM has attached priority to
eradication of the worst forms of child labor, in principle. The
country's laws adhere to international regulations on the
elimination of child labor and the Plan of Action for Children
demonstrates the GOM's political will to end the practice. Both
government and privately funded sensitization campaigns over the
past few years have been highly successful in initiating the turn of
the cultural mindset against the practice of employing young
children, especially child maids. We spoke with NGO leaders who
claim there is now a sense of shame in some village families upon
exposure as having sent their children to the city to work.

18. That said, without enforcement of the law the problem will
continue to exist in force. Currently, there is neither a mechanism
to identify domiciles that employ child domestics nor an official
system to withdraw them. Overworked labor inspectors are not
trained in identifying child laborers outside or inside the home.
Intermediaries, though well known in villages by civil society and
local officials, are never prosecuted as traffickers.

19. In order to ameliorate the situation the GOM should identify
and train a cadre of labor inspectors dedicated to the enforcement
of child labor law. USDOL should consider funding a program to
assist the GOM in training such a cadre in an effort similar to
DOL's recently completed social dialogue program to train labor
inspectors in labor code regulations. In addition, police and local
officials need to address the problem of intermediaries/traffickers
through identification and prosecution.

20. Local NGOs have been very active in fighting trafficking for
child labor. The GOM should consider increased partnering with
local NGOs or associations to identify and assist families who feel
the need to send their children to work as domestics or apprentices,
develop prevention plans relevant to the region, assist in the local
reinsertion of rescued child laborers, and support local efforts to
identify and prosecute local intermediaries. The USG should
consider funding a program to identify and train representatives
from local NGOs partnering with the GOM on how best to assist in
these child rescue efforts. On the policy side, the Embassy will
continue to engage on this issue with the Government and with
parliament, particularly to advocate for the needed legislation
noted above.

21. Embassy Rabat has coordinated on this message.
GREENE

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