Ms Ana Palacio, head of the law firm Palacio y Asociados, sent the below reply-email to WSRW on 19 February 2015. Palacio y Asociados has co-produced a legal opinion for the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company OCP, purportedly stating that OCP's exports of occupied Western Sahara's phosphates is permissible under international law as it accrues benefits to the "local people". Read WSRW's initial letter, asking whether the firm would share its legal opinion with the Saharawi people, here.
REPLY BY PALACIO Y ASOCIADOS, 19 February 2015
Dear Ms. Eyckmans,
I received yesterday afternoon an email attaching your letter dated February 18. In this letter you conclude posing "a single question for your firm: Will Palacio y Asociados kindly share its legal opinion on the Western Sahara phosphate trade with the Saharawi people who were, we note, the original inhabitants of the territory prior to Morocco's invasion in 1975?" With regard to this request, any legal opinion is protected by legal privilege. Therefore, I cannot satisfy your demand.
Your request is preceded by an argumentation on Western Sahara with statements I do not share. Having said that, Western Sahara has been and continues to be a focus of my professional activity in the field of international law, and in that context I am always interested in a legally anchored and forthright personal exchange.
You copy your letter to Messrs Levine and Rains, HE Ambassador Ross, and HE Bolduc. I would greatly appreciate if you would provide addresses for all of the recipients so that I may send them this response.
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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