The young people of Bayti use art to express themselves on the issue of detention of minors

The author, Meryem Mouna, is currently deployed in Morocco as a volunteer legal adviser in the project “Protection of Children, Women and Other Vulnerable Communities (PRODEF)”, implemented by the International Bureau for Children’s Rights and Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC), with the financial support of the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

In Morocco, thousands of children come into contact with the law, either as perpetrators, victims or witnesses, and are deprived of their freedom, in Child Protection Centres (CSE) that are socio-educational establishments under the Ministry of Youth and Sports. In 2012, the National Human Rights Council assessed the degree of compliance of the placement and management of these CSEs[1] with international standards. After noting that institutionalization and deprivation of freedom is often the first resort, the report highlighted several dysfunctions, in particular because ESCs shelter children of very different profiles, ages and situations, and the overall living conditions (accommodation, hygiene and food) do not guarantee the fundamental rights of children in care.

In the light of this observation, and within the framework of the UNICEF programme “Himaya – For better access of children to justice”, co-financed by the European Union and led by the Ministry of Justice, the Bayti association carried out during 2018, the project “Awareness and training of children, young people and parents, on the prevention of crimes and offences and alternatives to deprivation of liberty”. As part of the above-mentioned project, Bayti and the juvenile judge conducted awareness-raising activities among girls and boys, as well as their families, on the prevention of crimes and offences, and the existence of alternative measures to detention. In addition, the Bayti Youth Network produced a film Animate It! and staged a play about the oppressed.

Young people in situations of vulnerability, fragility and disaffiliation who live in conditions marked by economic, social, educational and relational insecurity were targeted during this project. Thus, awareness-raising and training activities were carried out in the cities of Casablanca and Essaouira with the CSEs of Abdeslam Bennani and Mers Sultan, the Essaouira Orphanage, the Association Au cœur de l’Amitié Euro Marocaine, the children of Bayti, the Relais Prison-Société association, as well as the children and youth of the Sidi Moumen district.

The results of the project were as follows:

  • 320 children and young people were introduced to national legislation, the concept of the best interests of the child, and the risks and vulnerabilities that can lead children into delinquency;
  • 18 professionals working with children have been trained in the techniques of oppressed people’s theatre in order to train new actors;
  • 34 young people from Bayti were trained in the techniques of the theatre of the oppressed;
  • 9 young people staged a play;
  • 10 children were trained in the making of a film Animate It!

Under this project, children, youth and families have been informed to invest in education and prevention. The staging of the theatre of the oppressed and the film Animate It! have proved to be valuable tools to raise awareness and deconstruct the stigmatization of juvenile detainees. Finally, several young people are now able to advocate for alternatives to deprivation of liberty, using art as a means of communication.

On 26 April 2019 in Casablanca, we were able to attend the closing ceremony of the Himaya project, between the Bayti association and UNICEF, during which the young people were able to present their play and their film Animate it! The Bayti association has been able to give young people the confidence and space they need to fully develop their creativity and express themselves freely on the subject of the detention of minors. This was reflected in the quality of the scripts, the staging and the actors’ performance.


[1] Report of the National Human Rights Council. « Children in the safeguarding centers, a childhood in danger: for an integrated child protection policy », 2013