At 11:45 today, Saharawi refugees are celebrating that the Court of Justice has ruled that EU cannot continue fishing offshore Western Sahara in partnership with the country that occupied their homeland.
Today, the Court of Justice ruled that the EU cannot fish in the waters offshore the territory that Morocco holds under occupation.
"The news is already spreading like wild fire among Saharawis in the occupied territories and in the diaspora. We are so glad to hear that the EU support to the occupation through such fisheries agreements has stopped", Jalihenna Mohamed told, of the Saharawi Campaign Against the Plunder (SCAP).
"This represents a crucial victory for our people and leaves no chance for EU governments and companies to manipulate in order to exploit or invest in our territory. We call on the EU to support the UN peace process and stop paying Morocco to occupy our land through fish deals. No commercial activity in occupied Western Sahara shall be conducted before Saharawi people enjoy their legitimate right to self-determination and decolonize their land through democratic and free referendum", he told.
Half the Saharawi people has been living as refugees in Algeria since 1975, when Morocco occupied the territory. As Spain permitted Morocco to annex the territory, the collapsing Franco regime signed a deal with Morocco so that Spanish fishing fleet could continue operating in the waters. In 1986, Spain became member of the EU, and since 1988, the EU has been paying Morocco so that mainly Spanish fleet could continue its practice. The Saharawis have always objected, saying that the EU is not allowed to violate international law.
Videos and photos in this article can be used for free, please credit "SCAP".
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.