Canada bound ship with conflict minerals released from detention
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The Ultra Innovation left the port of Panama City on 21 May, and is currently heading towards Vancouver. The dispute over the ownership of the cargo could still be pending court case.
Published: 24.05 - 2017 20:00Printer version    
The graphic above is a screenshot of the bulk vessel's movements as of 20 May 2017, 09:30 CET from Marinetraffic.

In the early morning hours of 21 May, the vessel Ultra Innovation was released from detention in Panama, and is at present heading in a 14 knot speed towards Canada.

The vessel contains conflict minerals - phosphate rock - exploited by the Moroccan government in the territory that it holds under foreign occupation, Western Sahara. The rock is bound for Agrium Inc, a Canadian company that imports via Vancouver harbour. Agrium is the biggest funder of the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, which the United Nations is working to decolonise.

The vessel was detained on 17 May due to a dispute over the ownership of the cargo. The Moroccan government claims that it has the right to exploit the phosphate rock mine in the territory that it occupies in violation of international law.

The United Nations secretariat and the Court of Justice of the EU thinks otherwise. Polisario, the legal representative of the people of Western Sahara, tried the case at a court in Panama just three weeks after a it initiated similar case in South Africa concerning a vessel transiting to New Zealand.

Agrium confirmed to Reuters that the shipping company had posted a bond for the release of the ship. Western Sahara Resource Watch expects the matter will be dealt with in the Panamanian court over the coming weeks or months. Ultra Innovation is now expected to arrive in Vancouver on 1 June.

"We are currently working with our charter company (Ultrabulk) to work through the situation. At this time we don’t anticipate any production interruptions at our facility in Alberta (Redwater)," a company spokesperson told Reuters on 18 May.

"We in Afrika Kontakt have tried to explain to Ultrabulk and to the Danish Shipowners' Association that they act in violation of international law. Their replies have not taken our letters seriously, and now one can see the result", the Danish organisation Afrika Kontakt told Danish media.

Ultrabulk has an agreement to transport phosphate rock from Morocco to the Canadian importer. Neither Ultrabulk or Agrium has asked the people of Western Sahara whether they consent to the companies buying and transporting the rock plundered by the country that occupies the territory.

Over the course of the last years, Agrium has emerged as the biggest importer of phosphate rock from the occupied territory. A report by Western Sahara Resource Watch launched in April this year, estimates their imports from Western Sahara for 2016 to be worth around 66,6 million USD, which is twice the amount of the multilateral humanitarian aid given to the refugees from Western Sahara, who own the phosphates. Numerous international financial institutions and funds have blacklisted Agrium over their contribution to Morocco's violation of international law.

    
News:

23.02 - 2018 / 23.02 - 2018SA Court confirms: Morocco has no ownership over Saharawi phoshates
23.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018EU Member States disagree over toxic fertilizers
21.02 - 2018 / 21.02 - 2018Vigeo Eiris goes back on false claim
20.02 - 2018 / 20.02 - 2018EU Parliamentarians concerned over Commission's respect of rule of law
15.02 - 2018 / 15.02 - 2018Sweden to vote against new EU-Morocco fish talks
08.02 - 2018 / 08.02 - 2018Studies continue on Kosmos Energy's block
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Kosmos and Cairn have pulled out of Western Sahara
07.02 - 2018 / 07.02 - 2018Why WSRW refuses to take part in the EU's Western Sahara consultation
03.02 - 2018 / 03.02 - 2018Unison condemnation of the EU Commission from Western Sahara groups
02.02 - 2018 / 01.02 - 2018Siemens fails to respond Western Sahara question at AGM
01.02 - 2018 / 01.02 - 2018EU has sealed Western Sahara trade deal in violation of Court Judgment
31.01 - 2018 / 30.01 - 2018Polisario threatens compensation from EU and companies, warns Nutrien
31.01 - 2018 / 30.01 - 2018Vigeo Eiris reports untruly about UN human rights approval
29.01 - 2018 / 29.01 - 2018'Biggest importer' of phosphate rock is pulling out
27.01 - 2018 / 27.01 - 2018Senior socialist MEPs publicly slam EU-Morocco talks
23.01 - 2018 / 12.01 - 2018Glencore has left occupied Western Sahara
22.01 - 2018 / 22.01 - 2018German government not supportive of business in Western Sahara
15.01 - 2018 / 15.01 - 2018Denmark accepts continued EU fisheries in occupied waters
10.01 - 2018 / 10.01 - 2018EU Court advocate: Fish agreement invalid for including Western Sahara
08.01 - 2018 / 08.01 - 2018EU Commission eying new fish deal including Western Sahara




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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.
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