12 April 2018
Morocco has recently been engaged in an unprecedented, frenzied media and diplomatic campaign of misinformation and propaganda in which it has threatened to take military action to forcibly annex the Liberated Territories of the Sahrawi Republic (SADR), alleging that the Frente POLISARIO had violated the terms of the 1991 UN-supervised ceasefire in Western Sahara.
The misinformation campaign also involved the dissemination of a series of fabrications and misrepresentations of the realities on the ground, particularly in terms of the geographical scheme enacted under the ceasefire and the related military agreement between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco. To put the record straight, we would like to clarify the following:
- The Military Agreement no. 1, which regulates the ceasefire between the Frente POLISARIO and Morocco, establishes the Moroccan military wall as a line of separation between the Sahrawi and Moroccan armies pending the holding of the self-determination referendum and the determination of the final status of the Territory. It also establishes a 5 km wide “buffer zone” to the east and along the 2700 km Moroccan military wall.
- The agreement further establishes two restricted areas (25 km east and 30 km west of the Moroccan military wall respectively), where firing of weapons and/or military training exercises, redeployment or movement of troops, entry of arms and ammunition and improvements of defence infrastructures are not permitted.
- Morocco’s claim that Bir Lehlou and Tifariti are located within the “buffer zone” is untrue because the two localities are situated in the Sahrawi Liberated Territories at a distance of at least 90 km from the Moroccan military wall, and therefore they are outside the “buffer zone”.
- Morocco’s allegations regarding violations of the ceasefire by the Frente POLISARIO were refuted by the United Nations itself on 3 April 2018 through the Spokesman of the UN Secretary-General. Furthermore, Morocco has rejected the deployment of a UN expert mission to address the fundamental questions related to the ceasefire and related agreements in response to the call made by the Security Council in its resolution 2351 (2017), operative paragraph 3, of 28 April 2017. As recognised by the UN Secretary-General in his latest report submitted to the Security Council on 29 March 2018, the Frente POLISARIO has already accepted the deployment of the UN mission of experts, which is a clear demonstration of its strong commitment to the ceasefire and the UN peace process.
- Since the entry into force of the ceasefire in 1991, the Government of the SADR has been administering and developing the Sahrawi Liberated Territories under its control. The military regions and units of the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have always been present in Western Sahara since the start of the liberation war against Spanish colonial presence in 1973. The SADR Government has also built vital infrastructures (such as hospitals, schools and water sources, etc.,) for the inhabitants of those areas who live in localities spread across the entire Liberated Territories.
- As part of its propaganda campaign, Morocco claimed that the reception accorded by the SADR President to foreign ambassadors who presented to him their credentials in the locality of Bir Lehlou was the first of its kind to take place in that area. This claim is false considering the many activities, visits, meetings, and conferences organised by the SADR and the Frente POLISARIO in those areas. Over the past decades, many senior officials and high-level foreign delegations representing governments, European, Pan-African and national Parliaments, political parties, civil society organisations and international media were received in the Sahrawi Liberated Territories in addition to members of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
- Morocco’s frenzied misinformation and propaganda campaign is due to the setbacks that it has suffered recently at the hands of the European Court of Justice that ruled against its illegal plunder of the natural resources of Western Sahara. The strong position expressed by the African Union in its latest summit as regards the urgent need for direct negotiations between the two parties to the conflict in Western Sahara has also dealt a major blow to Morocco’s attempts to neutralise Africa’s great contribution to peace efforts in its last colony.
- The campaign also comes at a time when the Security Council is due to consider the situation concerning Western Sahara. Moreover, it takes place against the backdrop of the strongly expressed intention of the UN Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Mr Horst Köhler, to relaunch the negotiating process between the two parties as called for by Security Council resolutions. For this reason, Morocco has been searching for excuses to disengage from the UN peace process, which it has obstructed repeatedly.
- It is therefore clear that Morocco’s misinformation and propaganda campaign regarding the UN-supervised ceasefire and the situation on the ground in Western Sahara is not more than a diversionary tactic designed deliberately to divert the attention of the UN Security Council from the real issues that underlie the current stalemate caused by Morocco itself. It also aims to mislead the international and Moroccan public opinion and to divert attention from thedeteriorating internal situation of Morocco, which is being hit by unprecedented turmoil and a dire political, economic, and social crisis.
12 April 2018
10 March 2018
Last week, the EU Court of Justice ruled that the EU-Morocco fisheries deal is not applicable to Western Sahara or its adjacent waters. The judgement is the latest in a string of legal victories to affirm that Morocco has no sovereignty over Western Sahara or its natural resources. This reality was underscored last month when the High Court of South Africa confirmed that the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic was the rightful owner of 55 tons of phosphate rock aboard the NM Cherry Blossom. The vessel’s cargo – detained in South Africa with phosphates illegally exploited in Western Sahara and bound for New Zealand – will now be returned to the Saharawi people.
Read the judgment here:
Since neither the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Morocco nor the Protocol between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Morocco are applicable to the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara, consideration of the first question referred for a preliminary ruling has revealed nothing capable of affecting the validity of Council Regulation (EC) No 764/2006 of 22 May 2006 on the conclusion of that agreement, Council Decision 2013/785/EU of 16 December 2013 on the conclusion of that protocol, and Council Regulation (EU) No 1270/2013 of 15 November 2013 on the allocation of fishing opportunities under that protocol, in the light of Article 3(5) TEU.
Read the judgment here
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Leigh Day, 5 February 2018
“European Union Court of Justice’s Advocate General Melchior Wathelet has handed down his opinion this week on the legal claims by Western Sahara Campaign UK’s (WSCUK) before the European Court of Justice finding that the European Union had failed to respect the right of the (continued….)
Read the full post
Court of Justice of the European Union
Press Release No 01/18
Luxembourg, 10 January 2018
According to Advocate General Wathelet, the Fisheries Agreement concluded between the EU and Morocco is invalid because it applies to the Western Sahara and its adjacent waters.
8 January 2018
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
As you saw over the weekend, the Secretary-General issued a statement on Western Sahara, in which he said he was deeply concerned about recent increased tensions in the vicinity of Guerguerat, in the Buffer Strip between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border. He underlined that the withdrawal of Frente Polisario elements from Guerguerat in April 2017, together with the earlier withdrawal of Moroccan elements from the area, was critical to creating an environment conducive to the resumption of dialogue under the auspices of his Personal Envoy, Horst Kohler. The Secretary-General called on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and to avoid escalating tensions. Regular civilian and commercial traffic should not be obstructed and no action should be taken which may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip.
Sahara Press Service
Oct 18, 2017
The messes of the Wilaya of Auserd have received on Wednesday the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Western Sahara, Horst Koehler, who arrived in the camps on the second leg of his first visit to the region, in the framework of his first tour to revival negotiations between the two parties to reach a solution that guarantees the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.
Upon his arrival in Auserd, he was greeted by units of the Sahrawi People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), where he was received at the entrance of the Wilaya by the members of the Secretariat, the Government, the National Council, the Bureau of the Advisory Council, the Presidents of the Constitutional Council and the Supreme Judicial Council.
For her part, Governor of the Wilaya, Mrs. Mariam Salek Hamada, after welcoming the Personal Envoy and his accompanying delegation, renewed the confidence of the Sahrawi party in the new envoy to move the peace process in Western Sahara.
Mariam went on saying that the Saharawi people are looking forward to finding a quick solution to the long-running Western Sahara conflict, applauding Mr. Kohler’s experience in the international politics.
The UN envoy was received by Emhamed Khaddad, the Sahrawi Coordinator with MINURSO, Mr. Bujari Ahmed, representative of the Frente POLISARIO to the United Nations.SPS
Saharawi human rights activist, Sultana Kahya, was taking part in a peaceful demonstration recently in support of Saharawi political prisoners but when she waved a Saharawi flag, it was forcibly confiscated and she was beaten by police and security officers (some in plain clothes).
Sahara Press Service
22 September 2017
El-Aaiun (Occupied Terrritories), Sep 22, 2017 (SPS) – Moroccan forces carried out a violent attack on Sahrawi demonstrators in the occupied city of El-Aaiun on Thursday, to express solidarity with Saharawi political prisoners in Moroccan prisons and condemnation of the disperse of Gdeim Izik’s prisoners.
The Moroccan forces imposed a siege on the neighborhoods that lead to Smara Street and houses of families of the prisoners, before carrying out their assault on the demonstrators.
The intervention was resulted in multiple injuries among the demonstrators, some of them in critical conditions, which required their transfer to hospital such as: Aziz Biza, Bashri Bentaleb, Hasana Duehi, Mina Abaali, Zaina Ashtuqui , Bushra Azafati, Embarka Bani, Maluma Abdalahi and Raguia El Hauasi.
According to sources from the Occupied Zones, Moroccan police forces still maintain a strong siege on the main streets of the occupied city of El-Aaiun, in anticipation of more demonstrations in solidarity with the Saharawi political prisoners.
Sahara Press Service
17 September 2017
Al-Arjat Prison (Morocco) 16 September 2017 – The Moroccan forces on Saturday carried out the abusive transfer of Sahrawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik from Al-Arjat prison to other Moroccan prisons, according to a Saharawi media source.
The Moroccan forces on Saturday carried out the abusive transfer of Sahrawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik from Al-Arjat prison to other Moroccan prisons, according to a Saharawi media source.
The families of the Saharawi political prisoners of Gdeim Izik group confirmed that Al-Arjat prison guards attacked the prisoners’ cells and forcibly transferred them to other prisons.
The political prisoners of Gdeim Izik group are probably transferred to the Moroccan prisons of Knetra and Ait Melloul, where the Moroccan authorities have just completed some works in these prisons, added the source.
This abusive transfer is part of retaliation against the group, condemned to heavy sentences of imprisonment ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment, for their successive demands to be transferred to the prison occupied of El Aaiún. (SPS)