WSRW asks OCP to release legal opinions on phosphate trade

WSRW has asked Morocco’s state-owned phosphate company to share the legal opinions that supposedly prove its activities in occupied Western Sahara are lawful with the legitimate owners of the territory’s phosphate reserves; the Saharawi people.
Published: 22.02 - 2016 09:46Printer version    
For years, companies that purchase phosphate rock mined in occupied Western Sahara have defended their imports to WSRW by referring to legal opinions by law firms retained by Office Chérifien des Phosphates SA (OCP); the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company that has been exploiting the Western Saharan phosphate resources following Morocco’s invasion of the territory in 1975.

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OCP seems to have hired at least four law firms to craft legal opinions that allegedly conclude that because the “local people” benefit from the industry, is it legal. But the legitimate owners of the phosphate reserves – the Saharawi people – are themselves not allowed to see those opinions.

WSRW has already been in touch with all involved law firms; Covington & Burling LLP, DLA Piper, Palacio y Asociados and Dechert LLP, who all decline sharing the documents, citing client confidentiality.




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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