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First intellectual output. Loyola Andalucia University

First intellectual output. Loyola Andalucia University


Socio-economic and geopolitical aspects
Morocco is located in the North African region and has borders with Spain and Algeria. The territory of Western Sahara, claimed by the State of Morocco, borders Mauritania.

Morocco became independent from France in 1956. At present, Morocco is a Monarchy. The 2011 Constitution strengthened the power of Parliament over the Crown, although the King retains certain executive powers. The international indicators of quality of democracy place Morocco in intermediate categories such as "Partially Free" (Freedom House) or Hybrid Regime (The Economist). In Morocco, there are regular elections and results are generally accepted, although some civil and political rights are not guaranteed.

According to the 2014 Census, the Moroccan population was 33,848,000 inhabitants. The official languages ​​in Morocco are Arabic and Amazigh, although French and Spanish are also spoken. As for the ethnic composition, the majority of the population is Arab (ethnic group of the royal house), but there are two other relevant ethnic groups that are politically mobilized. On the one hand, the Amazigh population (also known as Berber, although ‘Berber’ has a negative connotation in Morocco) and on the other hand, the Saharawi population that has remained in Western Sahara territory (many of other Saharawi people have fled to refugee camps in Algeria).

Morocco belongs to the medium human development group of countries according to the United Nations. Anyway, inequalities between rural and urban areas in terms of access to education (with an average of 5 years of schooling) and access to sanitation are important (UNDP 2017: 62). There are also important inequalities between men and women in education and in participation in the labour market. While for women the mean years of schooling is 3.8 for men is 6.4. However, this difference seems to be reversing since the expected years of schooling in 2016 for girls was 11.5 years while for boys was 12.6. Regarding the labour market, 25.3% of women over 15 years of age participate in the labour force, compared to 75.3% of men over 15 years of age.

Current conflicts and their causes
The Western Sahara Case

The territory of Western Sahara was officially under Spanish domination until 1976. For year the territory was claimed by Morocco and Mauritania. In 1975, the King of Morocco Hassan II promoted the Green March, which sought to expel the Spanish army by means of a massive walk of hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians from Moroccan territory to Saharawi territory. The United Nations established a special mission in 1991, known as MINURSO, to manage the decolonization of Western Sahara, although with little success, due to the lack of agreement between the Polisario Front (supported by Algeria) and the Moroccan Government. Since 1991, a ceasefire between the parties has in general terms been accepted, although tensions persist, and there are numerous reports of human rights violations against the Saharawi population by the Moroccan security forces.

The revolts in the Rif

Since the end of 2016, there have been massive protests in the Rif region, where Amazigh and Riffanian flags have been waved claiming for civil, political and social rights. This peaceful movement emerged after the death of Fikri, a fish vendor from Alhucemas who was humiliated by Moroccan police. This social movement connects however with previous movements such as the movement of February 20 (Moroccan Arab Spring) and the long-lasting Amazigh movement (Suárez Collado 2013). Many movement’s leaders were persecuted and imprisoned.

Push factors
Lack of civil and political rights

According to Freedom House, Morocco has limited freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of press and freedom of association. Numerous activists, both Saharawi and Riffian, have been repressed and imprisoned. Amnesty International has recorded numerous cases of torture in prisons and detention centers in Morocco.

Human Rights violations

According to the 2017 Amnesty International annual report, in Morocco in 2016 "The authorities restricted the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and prosecuted journalists and dispersed peaceful protests by force. Women were discriminated against in legislation and in practice. Consensual homosexual relationships continued to be penalized "(Amnesty International 2017: 301). Courts have imposed death sentences although these have not been executed.

Main countries of destination of migration and refuge flows, and particularities of the routes
Since the 90s, Morocco has become a transit country for migrants who come from other countries in the Middle East and African Sub-Saharan region and who aspire to reach Europe through the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla or Andalusia. Numerous NGOs have documented extensive human rights violations against migrants both on the Moroccan southern border and in the fields near the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. In particular, there are studies documenting serious sexual assaults on migrants from sub-Saharan African countries by Moroccan security forces on Morocco's southern border.

According to Eurostat, the main countries where asylum seekers of Moroccan citizenship apply for refugee status are Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary. In these countries, the number of applications grew exponentially in 2016. Applications for Spain, although fewer compared to other European countries, increased dramatically in 2015. According to a report published by the Spanish Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2015, the 60% of Moroccan citizens who apply for asylum in Spain did so from Melilla. 63% of them are men compared to 37% of women, and 17% of the total number of applications corresponds to children under 14 years of age.

Consequences of violence or terror on people
The consequences of the violence coming from the security forces of the Moroccan State, are individual (physical and psychological damages) but also social and political. The repression seeks to demobilize people who protest against the regime or the abuses of its security forces. However, some of the activists seek to escape from the regime and ask for political asylum in other countries, especially Germany, Italy, Holland, Austria and Hungary but also Canada.

Reports from Amnesty International on the situation of Human Rights in Morocco, available at:
World Report of Human Rights Watch on Morocco and Western Sahara, Available at:
Doctoral thesis on the Amazigh Movement in the Rif: Suárez Collado, Ángela (2013) El movimiento Amazigh en el Rif, Available in Spanish at:

Download this file (report-marocco.pdf)Report[Spanish language]


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