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.
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.
Western Sahara Resource Watch
30 May 2017
Above: The tank vessel Key Bay seen in the harbor of El Aaiun on 6 January 2017 – the first confirmed transport of goods from Western Sahara into the EU after the landmark judgment of the CJEU.
On 21 December 2016, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) judged that EU-Morocco trade deals cannot include the territory of Western Sahara.
Yet, the EU Commission has been pushing hard the EU member states to ignore that judgement. And in spite of vocal opposition from the UN-recognised representative of the people of Western Sahara – the Polisario Front – this morning, EU member states gave their green light to the Commission to start talks with Morocco for Western Sahara trade. Continue reading
Media release – Communiqué
The detention of a vessel carrying a cargo of phosphate rock destined for Canada from occupied Western Sahara.
Bir Lehlu, Western Sahara (18 May 2017).
The government of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (the SADR) and the Saharawi national liberation movement, the Polisario Front, announced today the detention of a second vessel carrying a cargo of phosphate rock illegally mined and sold from occupied Western Sahara. The motor vessel Ultra Innovation, was detained last night in Panama under court order while transiting the Panama Canal en route to Canada.
Democracy in Action
22 May 2017
my brothers and sisters,
is not for sale.
The green of my land,
makes me proud,
as the beauty of its pastures,
in the eyes of the good shepherd.
The phosphates you desire,
they will cause you harm,
not even if they were for sale,
will you be able to buy them.
So go the first lines of a poem by Fatma Brahim, who composed the work in 1976 as she and her daughters left the destroyed refugee camp of Um Dreiga, Western Sahara, after the Moroccan air force napalmed it. The poem, titled “Sahara is not for sale,” has become a classic revolutionary song for Saharawis, who are still pursuing their struggle for independence. It succinctly draws attention to a central aspect of the Western Sahara conflict, and an increasingly key demand made by Saharawi pro-independence activists: natural resources.
The South African High Court has banned the Cherry Blossom, and its $US5 million ($6.7m) cargo of phosphate rock, from leaving Port Elizabeth
9 May 2017
In South Africa, the independence dreams of Western Saharan tribespeople, 55,000 tonnes of phosphate and a ship called the Cherry Blossom have come together in court to create big problems for Australian chemicals and fertiliser group Incitec Pivot. Continue Reading –
10 May 2017
Mark Wynne is the CEO of Balance Agri-Nutrients, a New Zealand fertilizer company that imports hundreds of thousands of tonnes of phosphate every year from an illegal mine in a brutally occupied territory called Western Sahara. Fortunately for Mark, the Western Sahara is in north-west Africa, which is not a part of the world New Zealanders spend much time thinking about, despite the fact that our primary export industry is currently built upon on this deeply unethical trading relationship. Such ignorance means that when a vessel carrying Saharan phosphate is stopped – as happened last week in Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Mark can throw up his hands, claim that the Western Sahara situation is “very complex” and “deep-running” and (I’m not making this up) “geopolitical,” and thereby avoid having to explain to New Zealanders why it is okay that his company buys millions of dollars worth of illegal phosphate every year. Continue Reading –
The Cherry Blossom’s cargo is being fought over in South Africa by lawyers.
11 May 2017
Ongoing political issues behind a traditional supplier of phosphate rock for New Zealand fertiliser manufacturers are being exposed by the seizure of a fertiliser ship in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Continue reading –
Samia Errazzouki and Patrick Markey
3 May 2017
RABAT/ALGIERS, A Moroccan phosphate ship has been held in a South African port by a complaint from Western Sahara Polisario movement that it transported cargo unlawfully from the disputed territory, a lawyer and Polisario said on Wednesday.
Western Sahara Resource Watch
3 May 2017
A bulk vessel was Tuesday this week detained in the South African port of Port Elizabeth for carrying phosphate rock plundered from occupied Western Sahara.
The vessel NM Cherry Blossom is stuck at anchor 4 kilometers off Port Elizabeth, South Africa, not allowed to continue on its journey to New Zealand continue reading