Today, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) issued an opinion on a court case between the Western Sahara Campaign UK and British authorities, which had been referred to the CJEU.
His opinion was that the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement is invalid as it includes the territory of Western Sahara. This is great news for the national liberation movement.
“We have always stated that this agreement is illegal. And now, we have a very solid legal support on that from top lawyer in the Court on this issue. We are very satisfied”, Mhamed Khadad stated, coordinator of the Polisario Front to the UN Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
“The opinion is clear in defining that Morocco is occupying Western Sahara and that international humanitarian law must apply. It can’t be clearer”, he said.
Khadad stated that his organization awaits with anticipation the final judgment of the Court in a few months. “Now, we are calling the EU to draw the necessary conclusion and to enter into negotiation with the legal representatives of the territory on any exploration of natural resources of the territory. This includes the new fisheries agreement talks that were announced by the Commission yesterday”, Khadad stated.
Khadad also calls on all businesses operating under Moroccan contracts in Western Sahara “to withdraw from the territory and enter into talks with Polisario".
"We are open and ready to engage in discussion with all who are interested in the resources of Western Sahara, including the EU. But it has to be based on international law”, he stated.
Finally, Khadad expressed his confidence in the European rule of law, “many times we have been disappointed by European politicians, but we never lost our faith in justice”, he stated.
There are currently two similar court cases ongoing in the Court of Justice of the EU. One – which the Advocate-General now pronounced his opinion on – was referred to the court from the UK High Court, where the Western Sahara Campaign UK had initiated a legal case against the British government on the matter.
In addition, and most importantly, Polisario has its own legal case against the European Council, which will be addressed by the Court later this year. Polisario already won a massive moral victory in the Court in 2016 when it found EU agreements in Western Sahara to be invalid unless it had obtained consent from the representatives of the territory.
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
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