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Ministry of Employment Again Denies Sexual Assaults Against Spain’s Moroccan Farmers

Rabat – The Ministry of Employment said in a statement on Friday that no cases of “sexual harassment” against seasonal Moroccan farmers in Huelva, Spain, were recorded. The ministry, however, recognized that a suspect was questioned for alleged sexual assault.The statement recalled that delegations from the ministry, the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC), the Spanish embassy in Morocco and the Ministry in charge of Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs inspected the conditions of Moroccan farmers in Spain throughout the month of May.The inspection, according to the statement, unveiled no cases of “sexual harassment… with the exception of a case of a 47-year old suspect, who is the subject of a judicial inquiry in Spain.” Spanish news outlet El Mundo reported on June 4 that four Moroccan women lodged complaints against a supervisor on a Huelva farm.The 47-year old suspect was then arrested and questioned on May 25 and released on bail after questioning.The ministry’s recent statement added that it will follow the case to ensure all the statements attributed to Moroccan seasonal farmers are acted upon appropriately with the outcomes of any judicial investigation opened in this case.The ministry said that Moroccan seasonal farmers will begin returning to Morocco on May 25 and will continue until the beginning of July.The statement added that it brought back 400 workers on June 5, coinciding with the end of the fruit harvesting period in the farm concerned by the harassment allegations.Employees are under contracts that do not allow them to leave before the end of the harvest, because of the lack of a local workforce.In May, Morocco’s Ministry of Employment released a statement, announcing that it opened an investigation into the sexual assault claims. The ministry appointed a Spanish-Moroccan delegation to visit Huelva and to inquire about the working conditions of Moroccan farmers working in strawberry fields.Following the visit, the ministry published a statement denying claims that Moroccan farmers are being assaulted.Several international news outlets reported several cases of Moroccan women who experienced sexual assaults by their supervisors. The German investigative journalism NGO Correctiv published a story on May 2 in collaboration with RTL Nachtjournal and Buzzfeed News on Moroccan women farmers in Spain and in Morocco’s Souss Massa region in the south.In the report, women claimed that they were harassed, insulted, and raped in the field.

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