UK Court refers Western Sahara imports case to EU Court
judge_hammr_610.jpg

In refering the case on the questionable legality of UK imports from Western Saharan products to the European Court of Justice, the UK Judge stated that "there is an arguable case of a manifest error by the [European] Commission in understanding and applying international law relevant to these agreements.”
Published: 20.10 - 2015 11:08Printer version    
Earlier this year, WSRW's partner organisation in the UK, Western Sahara Campaign (WSCUK), issued proceedings arguing that the UK was unlawfully allowing products, originating from or processed in Western Sahara, to be imported into the UK under a trade agreement with Morocco.

Law firm Leigh Day, acting for WSCUK, claims this is unlawful and that it is clear that Moroccan territorial jurisdiction does not extend to the territory of Western Sahara or to the territorial sea adjacent to Western Sahara. Therefore, goods and products produced in Western Sahara should not to be treated as originating from Morocco for the purposes of preferential tariffs or any other benefits conferred upon Moroccan products by European Union. The same is true in relation to fishing quotas allocated in the seas located off the coast of Western Sahara.

In his judgment yesterday The Hon Mr Justice Blake said:
“I conclude that there is an arguable case of a manifest error by the Commission in understanding and applying international law relevant to these agreements.”

Read the full text of the Judgement here.

The Hon Mr Justice Blake drew attention to ‘allegations of serious human rights abuses by the Moroccan authorities against the indigenous members of the Saharan population’. He also noted, ‘reports of discrimination in the field of business and employment and political expression against indigenous Saharans in favour of Moroccan nationals who have moved into the territory since 1975'.

John Gurr of WSCUK said: “this is a landmark step forward for the Saharawi people. For too long governments have ignored their obligations under international law and made agreements with Morocco to exploit resources that do not belong to Morocco and that Morocco only controls by military force”.

Two EU Member States have a strong position on the subject of Western Sahara imports. The Dutch government has stated on more than one occasion that products from Western Sahara cannot enter the EU market labelled as from Morocco, a position shared with the Swedish government. Similarly, the EFTA countries do not interpret their Free Trade Agreement with Morocco to apply to Western Sahara. The United States explicitly excludes Western Sahara from its free trade cooperation with Morocco.

At present, the European Court of Justice is reviewing the legality of both the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement and the EU-Morocco Free Trade Agreement covering agricultural products, precisely because they allow Western Sahara products to enter the EU market as if they were Moroccan.

Western Sahara, in north-west Africa, is the subject of a decades-long dispute between Morocco and the Saharawi people. In October 1975 the International Court of Justice rejected Morocco’s territorial claims over Western Sahara and recognised the Saharawi people's right to self-determination.  Since 1975 Morocco has supported the settlement of its citizens in Western Sahara, arguably in breach of Article 49 of the Geneva Conventions, which states: ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’  The United Nations and NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Norwegian Refugee Council have found evidence of human rights abuses.


    

Top
News:

21.06 - 2017 / 21.06 - 2017Polisario warns shipping industry of more vessel detentions
20.06 - 2017 / 20.06 - 2017Isle of Man shipping company exits Western Sahara until settlement
16.06 - 2017 / 16.06 - 2017New report reveals the companies transporting conflict phosphate rock
15.06 - 2017 / 15.06 - 2017Saharawis won first round in conflict mineral cargo court case
12.06 - 2017 / 12.06 - 2017Wisby Tankers continues fueling occupation of Western Sahara
12.06 - 2017 / 12.06 - 2017Swedish bank excludes phosphates industry in Western Sahara
06.06 - 2017 / 19.05 - 201715 questions that Atlas Copco does not want to answer
02.06 - 2017 / 02.06 - 2017Moroccan government confirmed Glencore exit from Foum Ognit
01.06 - 2017 / 01.06 - 2017Ballance takes in new controversial cargo to replace detained vessel
30.05 - 2017 / 30.05 - 2017UN Global Compact drops Vigeo Eiris case after own goal
30.05 - 2017 / 30.05 - 2017Protests in Palma de Mallorca against sand imports
30.05 - 2017 / 29.05 - 2017Can the EU answer these questions on Western Sahara trade talks?
24.05 - 2017 / 20.05 - 2017Canada bound ship with conflict minerals released from detention
18.05 - 2017 / 18.05 - 2017New Zealand conflict cargo judgment set for 9 June
18.05 - 2017 / 18.05 - 2017Danish vessel with plunder cargo detained in Panama
11.05 - 2017 / 10.05 - 2017EU intends to ignore Court of Justice judgment on Western Sahara trade
11.05 - 2017 / 11.05 - 2017Glencore is departing Western Sahara
05.05 - 2017 / 03.05 - 2017Enel considers involvement in occupied Western Sahara non-political
04.05 - 2017 / 04.05 - 2017Ballance Agri-Nutrients admits to be buyer of seized cargo
04.05 - 2017 / 04.05 - 2017Video of the seized vessel




EN ES FR DE AR

Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!

tn_court_photo_gdeim_izik_610.jpg

On 17 February 2013, in a mockery of justice, a Moroccan military court condemned 25 Saharawi citizens to shockingly tough prison sentences. Help us to release the Gdeim Izik 25.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch

tn_sjovik_demo_610.jpg

Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder

tn_poweringplunder_eng_610.jpg

At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.
The Western Sahara oil curse

tn_san_leon_protest_camps_8_august_2015_610x200.jpg

Big oil’s interest in occupied Western Sahara has taken a dramatic turn for the worse. Some companies are now drilling, in complete disregard of international law and the Saharawi people’s rights. Here’s what you need to know.

WSRW.org News Archive 2016
WSRW.org News Archive 2015
WSRW.org News Archive 2014
WSRW.org News Archive 2013
WSRW.org News Archive 2012
WSRW.org News Archive 2011
WSRW.org News Archive 2010
WSRW.org News Archive 2009
WSRW.org News Archive 2008
WSRW.org News Archive 2007
WSRW.org News Archive 2004-2006


Register for our English newsletter:









These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy