Swedish national TV revealed this week how fish oil from occupied Western Sahara is secretly sold on the Scandinavian market. Western Sahara Resource Watch and former German MEP Margot Kessler today sent a letter to the German firm Cognis, asking that they instruct their Norwegian subsidiary to halt the unethical imports.
Cognis GmbH Att: CEO Antonio Trius Concerning: Open letter on subsidiaries’ imports from occupied Western Sahara
Dear Mr. Trius
We wish to express to you our deep concern over one of your subsidiaries’ imports of fish oil from occupied Western Sahara.
The imports were revealed in Swedish Broadcasting Corporation yesterday. The documentary film shows how Norwegian firm Napro Pharma imports from the occupied territory, while refusing to disclose the origin of the fish oil vis-à-vis its clients. The television production is accessible via www.svt.se/granskning.
Allow us to present why we believe such trade is highly unethical, and should be avoided by your subsidiary in Norway.
Morocco is an illegal occupying power in Western Sahara. The International court of Justice in 1975 established that Morocco has no legal claim to Western Sahara. The Saharawi population remaining in areas under Moroccan occupation is subjected to grave human rights violations, such as torture, forced disappearances and arbitrary detention. Most importantly, however, they have not been allowed to freely exercise their right to self- determination through a free, fair and transparent referendum. This right was established through UN General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) (1960), and has since been supported by more than 100 UN resolutions. The Government of Germany is a strong supporter of the Sahrawi people’s right to self-determination.
The Saharawi people’s right to self-determination includes, inter alia, the right of permanent sovereignty over its natural resources. Permanent sovereignty over natural resources is a customary principle of international law. Numerous resolutions of The United Nations Security Council and General Assembly and a legal opinion by the former UN Under-Secretary General of Legal Affairs, Mr. Hans Corell on 29 January 2002 affirm this position (www.arso.org/Olaeng.pdf). As the Saharawi have not been able to exercise their right to self-determination, and since they therefore have not been properly consulted, trade with Morocco of natural resources emanating from Western Sahara is a violation of the Saharawi’s right to permanent sovereignty over their resources.
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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