Polisario threatens compensation from EU and companies, warns Nutrien

The national liberation movement of Western Sahara threatens to claim 240 million Euro in compensation of the EU's illegal fisheries in occupied Western Sahara and sends a warning to importers of goods from the territory to halt their imports.
Published: 31.01 - 2018 21:28Printer version    
Following the rapid legal developments in international and national courts regarding commercial activity in Western Sahara since 2015, the Western Sahara liberation movement Polisario is now upping the ante.

Polisario, the African Union and even several EU Member States have for a number of years warned about the illegality of companies and governments entering into trade agreements with Morocco covering the occupied territory of Western Sahara. The former UN Legal Counsel has also stressed this a number of times.

Yet, only since 2015 have the general principles of international law entered into national laws and EU law through court decisions. As the courts are concluding on the need for consent from the Western Sahara people, Polisario is now starting to claim compensation for the illegal plunder. Pillaging an occupied territory is contrary to international humanitarian law, and the people of Western Sahara has not allowed Morocco to export goods from the land.

In an interview with the Spanish news agency EuropaPress on 30 January 2018, the lawyer of Western Sahara's liberation movement Polisario, Gilles Devers, told that the movement is to seek compensation from the EU for the pillage that has taken place after 21 December 2016, the date when the EU Court of Justice found that EU-Morocco trade agreements cannot take place in Western Sahara.

The preliminary claim is around 240 million Euros. Polisario also warned about specific legal steps that will be taken in national courts. On the one hand, it mentioned a case in the Spanish courts against the companies importing sand, and in the French courts against a named importer of agricultural products. Polisario already initiated a case regarding the flights of Transavia from France in a French court, and successfully detained two phosphate vessels in Panama and South Africa.

The lawyers also underlined the breach of law of personnel of the European Commission in carrying out financial transactions without a legal basis.

The first EU fisheries started shortly after Spain accessed the EU in 1986. Several fisheries agreements between the EU and Morocco have been functioning in Western Sahara since then, despite protest from the Saharawi people. The mentioned compensation claim does not address the EU participation in the plunder up until December 2016.

The Court of Justice of the EU is to judge twice on matter of EU fisheries in the territory. The first case, initiated by an NGO in the UK, is to be concluded on 27 February 2018. The second, initiated by Polisario, is to be concluded thereafter.

At the same time, Polisario today sent yet another warning to the Canadian importer Nutrien. Its legacy companies Agrium and PotashCorp have imported for several hundreds of millions of dollars from Western Sahara without taking into account the right to self-determination of the Saharawis, including the Saharawi people's legitimate right to decide over its own minerals. Nutrien is the biggest importer of phosphate from the territory.

WSRW has obtained a copy of a letter sent from Polisario to Nutrien on 31 January 2018. Download here. In the letter, it requests Nutrien to immediately stop imports. Nutrien told in an investor conference earlier this month that it will make a decision later this year on what to do with the multi-million dollar imports into the US of phosphate rock from Western Sahara.

"We wish to underline that the Saharawi people emphatically do not consent the development and export of their natural resources from the occupied part of Western Sahara. [....] Mr. Magro confirmed that notice has been given to end imports to Canada, by stopping the contract previously in place with Agrium 'at the end of this year'. In our respectful view, however, this is not enough. The buying of Western Sahara's illegally exported phosphate rock must stop without delay."

The Saharawi government also invited Nutrien for talks about future relations between the government and the company. A similar invitation was made vis-à-vis the fisheries industry. The Polisario representative to the EU underlined to EuropaPress yesterday that "the Saharawis do not represent any threat to the interests of the [EU] fishermen", but that consent first needs to be obtained from Polisario.

Since you're here....
WSRW’s work is being read and used more than ever. But our financial situation is tough. Our work takes time, dedication and diligence. But we do it because we believe it matters – and we hope you do to. If everyone who reads our website or likes us on Facebook, would contribute to our work – 3€, 5€, 27€ … what you can spare – the future of WSRW would be much more secure. You can donate to WSRW in less than a minute here.




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.
EU Court cases on Western Sahara for dummies


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.
Stand up for the Gdeim Izik 25!


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.
Support Western Sahara Resource Watch


Help us to protect the natural resources of Western Sahara for the Saharawi people. Support our work by making a donation.
Report: Moroccan green energy used for plunder


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.

WSRW.org News Archive 2019
WSRW.org News Archive 2018
WSRW.org News Archive 2017
WSRW.org News Archive 2016
WSRW.org News Archive 2015
WSRW.org News Archive 2014
WSRW.org News Archive 2013
WSRW.org News Archive 2012
WSRW.org News Archive 2011
WSRW.org News Archive 2010
WSRW.org News Archive 2009
WSRW.org News Archive 2008
WSRW.org News Archive 2007
WSRW.org News Archive 2004-2006

Register for our English newsletter:

These web pages have been built with the financial support of the trade union Industry Energy