The New Zealand company Ballance Agri-Nutrients has again bought phosphate rock from a Moroccan state phosphate company in occupied Western Sahara. The shipment arrived 3 December 2008, on the Israeli managed vessel 'White Diamond'.
Ballance Agri-Nutrients has for several years purchased phosphates from occupied Western Sahara, from the illegal occupying power in the territory.
Such trade is clearly in violation of international law, as described by the UN in 2002.
It is furthermore highly unethical. Morocco refuses to withdraw from the territory that it illegally occupied in 1975. A majority of the Western Sahara people has been living in exile since the occupation began, and more than 500 Sahrawis have disappeared. Human Rights Watch in a report on 19th of December described the very harsh conditions for human rights in the Moroccan occupied territory. The US based NGO Freedom House labels the occupied Western Sahara as one of the most repressive societies in the world, and compares the situation with the one in Zimbabwe.
Still, Ballance Agri-Nutrients continues its unethical imports. The purchases are made from a Moroccan governmental company called OCP, despite the fact that no state recognises the Moroccan claim to Western Sahara. OCP sacked most of the indigenous workers in 1975, when Morocco took control over the mines. These people were quickly replaced by Moroccan settlers.
"We strongly urge Ballance Agri-Nutrients to follow very basic principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, and immediately find other sources for its phosphate imports", said Cate Lewis, international coordinator of Western Sahara Resource Watch.
"Supporting an illegal occupying power in violating international law, while the local people earn nothing from the plundering, on the contrary are being subjected to the worst forms of torture, is highly unethical. As long as there is a conflict in Western Sahara, and Morocco continues its presence there, no company should source its phosphates from the territory", said Lewis.
Morocco earns billions of dollars on the industry each year, while the Sahrawi people protests the trade.
The photos of the vessel 'White Diamond' below were taken in the Port of Tauranga, New Zealand, on 3 December 2008. To the right of the vessel, you can see parts of Ballance Agri-Nutrients' factory.
'White Diamond' is managed by the Israeli company Ofer Ships, sails under Liberian flag, and has IMO number 9330666.
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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