Dechert LLP sent the below reply-email to WSRW on 11 February 2016. Dechert 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 DECHERT LLP ON 11 FEBRUARY 2016
Dear Ms Eyckmans,
Thank you for your email and letter of 8 February.
As you may already know, all advice that we provide to our clients is confidential in accordance with our strict obligations of client confidentiality under the Solicitors Regulatory Authority Code of Conduct.
Various statements that you make in your letter are incorrect - I am open to have a discussion with you about those incorrect statements on the basis of the principles of international law.
I understand you have provided copy of your letter to the UN secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, the UN Secretary General’s Special representative for Western Sahara and Head of MINURSO and the Chairperson of the Africa union Commission. I would grateful if you could provide us with their addresses so that we could copy them as well in our 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.
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.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.