Today via Skype Ebrima Badamassi in Tangiers reports that a Congolese woman that he knows was raped two months ago by five Moroccan police officers.
The woman was raped while she was being detained and en-route to the desert at Oujda, near the Algerian border. Ebrima report that the police officers who deliver detained migrants to “deport” them to Algeria regularly separate the women from the men.
After having dumped the men in in the desert – which in itself is a massive violation of human rights and international law – the police then tell the women that if they have sex with the officers they will be taken back to Tangiers or the other big cities where they were detained.
Ebrima says that many women refuse and are dumped in the desert along with the men, often after having suffered a violent response for their refusal. In this case however, as in many others, the Congolese woman was forced to have sex with the 5 officers.
Upon returning to Tangiers after this despicable ordeal, the woman with the help of the NGO Chabaka, complained to the police, saying she could identify the officers who had raped her. The police did not give her a chance to identify them and have not taken the case forwards.
Any act of rape or sexual assault should not be tolerated, but when the perpetrators of rape are police officers who protect one another from prosecution, then the entire system which allows this should not be tolerated either.
The circumstances in which these rapes happen are created by the European Union border control policy. If it were not for the millions of euros being paid to Moroccan police to round up Sub-Saharan migrants then the police would not be detaining these women based on their immigration status in the first place.
In response to requests by the BBC in the making of their recent Newsnight report, the European Union refused to comment on the exact procedure by which the money is given to the Moroccan police. This lack of transparency on the part of the EU means we have no choice but to accept the testimony of migrants themselves, who claim that the money is given on a case-by-case basis: every time a migrant is arrested and their fingerprints taken, the police receive a certain sum of money.
If this is true then it is a system simply asking to be abused by a police force as famously corrupt as Morocco’s is – the same police force which controls the majority of the Hashish supply for all of Europe. Paying police officers every time they send some fingerprints – on the naive assumption that they will then use that money to safely deport migrants back to their home countries in accordance with the 1951 Geneva convention – creates the conditions in which those officers have an incentive to simply dump migrants over the border with Algeria instead, or even to release them back onto the streets.
This system means that migrants of Sub-Saharan African (“Black”) appearance are routinely subjected to racist raids and controls by the police and those without papers are arrested. Migrants report that when arrested their possessions are usually stolen and they are given little or no food while detained, all to increase the profits of corrupt police.
If the police officers decide that they want sex from migrants as well as money, then they are in a position to demand it from them in exchange for letting them go free. If the migrants still refuse then the police are in a position to rape them, knowing that they will not face repercussions due to the widespread culture of impunity in the Moroccan police force.
The European Union must immediately cease these payments to the corrupt Moroccan police force and remove the financial incentives underpinning this entire system of racial and sexual violence. Even that will not be enough to ensure that the corrupt Moroccan police will stop raping and abusing migrants, because the entire police force would have to be completely overhauled for that. But in the absence of such an overhaul, the continued payments can not be justified by European Union bureaucrats who claim to support the protection of Human Rights in Morocco, especially not when reports of rapes, deaths and other abuses of migrants continue to come out so regularly.
Solidarity with all survivors of rape by EU-funded Moroccan police.
Down with the EU Border Control Regime.