Steenbakker referred to Western Sahara, following questions by the Dutch Organisation of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO) regarding Fugro’s commitment to its own partner-code. Fugro’s partner-code does not allow any human rights violations, but the company has been criticised for their involvement in projects that did not allow the local population to have a say in the explorations taking place in their immediate surroundings.
Fugro's CEO did admit that the company did not undertake any systematic human rights risk-analysis and resorted to ad hoc evaluations. Steenbakker added that he would order an investigation into the compliance-checks linked to the partner-code.
Different Fugro subsidiaries have been involved in occupied Western Sahara for a decade. In January 2009, Fugro’s Norwegian subsidiary, Fugro-Geoteam AS was engaged in seismic surveys off Western Sahara on an assignment for the American company Kosmos Energy.
Following international protests, the Dutch parent company announced in May 2010 that it would terminate its involvement in Western Sahara. The decision was nevertheless tardy, as it was taken upon completion of the assignment; Fugro had already collected and presented the data to Kosmos Energy. The damage that the company has enflicted on the Saharawi people is grave: The latter still maintains its contract for offshore oil exploration in violation of the UN opinion from 2002, based on the data that Fugro produced.
Photo: Demonstration the Canary Islands against Fugro's repeated involvement in the occupied waters of Western Sahara.
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.