Some fight for freedom, others try to get it back. Migrants and prisoners often share the same experience: their freedom has been taken away from them. People travelling along migratory routes increasingly find themselves faced with walls, barriers, immigration removal centres and even prison. Raising awareness of detention conditions is at the heart of Prison Insider’s mission and the main subject of its publications. We see the same evils everywhere: confinement destroys, isolates and compromises the person’s dignity. We are referring to police stations, detention centres and camps.

In Morocco, those who try to reach mainland Europe illegally often end their journey within four walls, even before crossing the border. What is frequently presented as a “migration crisis” is the sum of the often-dramatic personal journeys that are suddenly cut short. Prison Insider explores this issue again as it is inextricably linked to prison. Camille Grange, a freelance journalist, went on an on-site mission to write this article for Prison Insider.

This report was produced as part of the Frame, Voice, Report! project funded by the European Union.

Arrested in Tangier? You will be deported to Rabat. If you are arrested in Rabat, you can end your journey in Tiznit, Beni Mellal, or even in Marrakech or near Western Sahara.

“Some stayed there for two months. They only had one piece of bread to eat each day."


Under surveillance

The High Commissioner for Refugees, Human Rights Watch, the International Organisation for Migration, the European Delegation to Morocco, the ministry delegated to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the US Embassy in Morocco, the Directorate General of National Security, and the Royal Air Maroc airline did not reply to our questions. “Detention is not an issue that institutions find very comfortable to discuss. These are situations where negotiations are done on a case-by-case basis. The room for manoeuvre is even more limited when it is made public. Detention situations are also not formalised (…) From the moment an institution talks about it, it makes it official and is against the practices of the Ministry of the Interior”, explains Yassine, a member of a Moroccan institution who asked for anonymity. Institutional witnesses met in Rabat and Casablanca. They asked for anonymity. Some refused to be recorded. Over the course of the meetings, they made restrained, guarded remarks and called for caution. “You know, we are under surveillance. You will be too when you leave this office, if you are not already”.