Western Sahara has won its conflict cargo case in South Africa

The Moroccan state company OCP has decided to drop defending the detained conflict mineral cargo in South Africa. The Saharawi people thus won a 5 million USD walk-over victory before the trial over phosphate rock ownership even had begun.

On 1 May 2017, the bulk vessel NM Cherry Blossom was detained in Port Elizabeth, on a stop-over to New Zealand. The vessel contained 55.000 tonnes of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara.

The UN has concluded that any exploitation of resources in Western Sahara would be illegal if the Saharawi people do not consent to it. Similarly, the Court of Justice of the EU on 21 December 2016 judged that trading with the territory would be illegal without such consent. However, Morocco, illegally occupying parts of Western Sahara since 1975, has kept the exports of Western Sahara phosphate rock. In 2016, Morocco earned over 200 million USD from the rock export from the territory.

The second biggest importing country is New Zealand, where two farmer co-operatives import from the occupied territory.

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Saharawi government response to the withdrawal of a defence in the case of a cargo of phosphate rock detained en route to New Zealand from occupied Western Sahara

Bir Lehlu Western Sahara

13 July 2017

The government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Saharawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, welcomed an announcement today that there would be no further defence of a case by Morocco’s state company OCP SA over a cargo of phosphate mineral rock detained under court order in South Africa.

The 55,000 tonne cargo had been illegally exported from occupied Western Sahara in April for delivery to the New Zealand fertilizer company Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited.  Carried aboard the m.v. NM Cherry Blossom, it was detained on May 1 under a civil court order after an application by Saharawi authorities in South Africa’s High Court.  On June 15, the Court determined that the claim should proceed to a full trial, noting that the Saharawi government had prima facie ownership of the cargo.  A copy of the decision in Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and Another v Owner and Charterers of the MV ‘NM Cherry Blossom’ and Others [2017] ZAECPEHC 31 is available at: <www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZAECPEHC/2017/31.html>.

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Western Sahara – European Commission ‘ignoring’ of UN-recognised Polisario Front on EU-Morocco Agreement raised in Dáil

An Phoblacht

1 June 2017

John Hedges

Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco

A EUROPEAN COMMISSION move to renegotiate its Association Agreement with Morocco on trade, political co-operation and development issues without involving the people of Western Sahara and their UN-recognised political representatives, the Polisario Front, has been raised in the Dáil (Irish Parliament) by Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe with the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister.

Morocco has occupied much of resource-rich Western Sahara since 1975. Most of the population has been expelled by force, many to camps in the Algerian desert where 165,000 refugees still live. United Nations resolutions have called for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. The United Nations considers the Polisario Front to be the legitimate representative of the Sahrawi people.

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Perpetuity can not overshadow the $ 200 million annual stolen phosphate

Equip Media EMSahara

9 June 2017

Equip Media

Monday, June 5th 2017. The trial of the Saharawi political prisoners of the Gdeim Izik group opened before the Court of Appeal in Salé – Morocco. activists for the independence of Western Sahara and Human rights defenders , but also the lawyers by their absence protest against this unfair trial whose first hearings were held on March 13th 2017 after months of postponements.

On June 6th, in the space authorized for the Saharawi demonstrations, surrounded by the hubbub of Moroccan sound systems friends of Sid Ahmed Lamjayed sentenced to life imprisonment expressed their support and demands, among 80 other demonstrators.

On the panels we could read “Agrium shame on you”, “The phosphate is Sahrawi, and it belongs to our people”.

Sid Ahmed Lamjayed is the president of the CSPRON The committee to support the peace settlement and to protect the natural resources in Western Sahara. Continue reading

Western Sahara’s Hidden Democratic Promise

The Globe Post

19 June 2017

Elliott Schwebach

On the western coast of Northern Africa are a territory, a conflict, and a people that the world has mostly forgotten. Though many do not realize it, this level of neglect has serious ramifications for the state of democracy in the Middle East and North Africa.

As the right to national self-determination in Western Sahara has gone ignored and unfulfilled, a unique potential for the creation of a robust and functional democracy has also gone tragically unheeded.

In order to prevent future conflict and diminish possible openings for radicalization, it is important for world leaders committed to human rights and international stability to recognize the democratic potential of Western Sahara for what it is: a rare opportunity for low-cost, high-yield democratic transition and the best possible outcome for citizens in the region.

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New report reveals the companies transporting conflict phosphate rock

WSRW

16 June 2017

For 45 days now, the large motor vessel NM Cherry Blossom has been detained in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. On 15 June 2017, the High Court in the country found that the ship, carrying conflict minerals from occupied Western Sahara, is to remain there until a trial concludes on the real ownership of the cargo.

Which shipping company could be the next in having a vessel detained?

A new report published by WSRW today reveals the names of around 100 shipping companies behind the transport of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara in 2016 and 2017.

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) today launches the first ever report to systematically outline the owners and operators of the vessels that transport the controversial phosphate to clients overseas. The export is done by Morocco, the occupying power. The report’s annex refers to around 100 shipping companies that took part in such transports from the territory from 1 January 2016 to 9 June 2017.

Download the 36-page report ‘Carriers of Conflict’ here.

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Saharawis won first round in conflict mineral cargo court case

WSRW

15 June 2017

A panel of judges in South Africa ruled today that the detention of NM Cherry Blossom on 1 May 2017 was correct.

The Western Sahara people has thus passed the first hurdle in the legal process to win ownership over a cargo of phosphate rock that Morocco has tried to export from the territory that it holds under occupation.

“The ICJ’s judgement is clear: Morocco has no claim to sovereignty over Western Sahara. Its claim as result of its occupation of the territory is incompatible with the status of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory. Furthermore, it acquired control of the territory by force. This, as a means of acquiring sovereignty, is contrary to customary international law”, the judges stated.

A panel of judges in the High Court in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, judged this morning that the cargo on board the vessel NM Cherry Blossom is rightfully detained, and that a trial to determine its ownership is to take place.

The court decided that the sheriff is “directed and authorised to remove the ship’s registration documents and trading certificates” until the case is settled.
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Media release – Communiqué Detention of phosphate in South Africa

Statement of the Saharawi government following the decision of the High Court of South Africa in the continuing detention of a cargo of phosphate rock for New Zealand from occupied Western Sahara

Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara (June 15, 2017).  On May 1 the government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Saharawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, obtained a civil court order to detain a cargo of phosphate mineral rock transiting through South Africa, illegally exported from occupied Western Sahara in April.  The 54,000 metric tonnes cargo, purchased by the New Zealand fertilizer company Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited, has a value estimated at more than $7 million (NZD).

After 45 days, the cargo remains under detention aboard the Marshall Islands registered bulk carrier NM Cherry Blossom at anchor in Port Elizabeth.

Today the High Court of South Africa issued a decision on a review of the May 1 order to detain the cargo.  This procedural step was routine in South Africa’s civil justice system.  The Court confirmed the correctness of the May 1 order, that it had been obtained on proper grounds.  The civil lawsuit will now go to a trial on the question of ownership rights to the cargo.  Over the years, virtually every phosphate purchasing company had been warned of the risks of importing the commodity, including that ownership rights to it could not be transferred because of the illegal occupation of Western Sahara.

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Camel pizza: Sahrawi woman delivering fast food by Mercedes in the desert

Middle Eastern Eye

Eugenio G. Delgado

12 June 2017

A young female entrepreneur from a Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria has opened the first pizzeria run only by women.

Hindu Mani is the first Sahrawi woman to open a pizzeria in the Sahrawi refugee camps, around 50 kilometres from the Algerian city of Tindouf (MEE/Eugenio G. Delgado)

TINDOUF, Algeria – As she pulls up in a 1989 white Mercedes Benz 190, all eyes are on 26-year-old Hindu Mani, a Sahrawi refugee.

Women driving in the Sahrawi refugee camps, 50 kilometres from the Algerian city of Tindouf, is a rarity, but it is not the only thing Mani has gained notoriety for. With a staff of four women, Mani runs the only Sahrawi pizzeria in the camps.

Hindu Mani delivers pizzas with her 1989 white Mercedes Benz in Aswerd camp, around 50 kilometres from the Algerian city of Tindouf (MEE/Eugenio G. Delgado)

“From the beginning I thought of [opening a pizzeria] with the idea of empowering young Sahrawi women who have been unable to [finish] their studies or work,” Mani said.

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Frente POLISARIO “strongly” condemns proposal of European Commission for mandate to negotiate revision of 2000 EU-Morocco Association Agreement

 

Sahara Press Service

Bir Lehlou 29 May 2017

The Frente POLISARIO has “strongly” condemned the proposal of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union is expected to decide on, for a mandate to negotiate a revision of the 2000 EU-Morocco Association Agreement, which would include Moroccan products originating illegally in Western Sahara under the trade preferences of that Agreement.

The Frente POLISARIO affirmed in a statement on Sunday “As the UN-recognised representative of the people of Western Sahara, the Frente POLISARIO strongly condemns this new proposal of the European Commission, which, if endorsed by the Council of the European Union, would violate both the ruling of the EU Court and fundamental tenets of international law.” Continue reading