Att: Mr. Mats Rahmström President and Chief Executive Officer
17 March 2019, Brussels
Request for comments and clarifications Regarding Atlas Copco’s role in phosphate production in occupied Western Sahara
To Mr. Rahmström
WSRW refers to a letter we sent to you on 27 March 2017 regarding your company’s supplies to the Bou Craa mine in occupied Western Sahara. Our association had questions regarding your deliveries to the mine, as well as your understanding of applicable international law and your future plans. That letter also summarises the correspondence that we had had until then. The letter can be found here: https://wsrw.org/files/dated/2017-03-27/2017.03.27_wsrw-atlascopco.pdf
On 10 April 2017, Atlas Copco responded that the company "has enhanced efforts to detect and ensure that no future indirect or direct sales in these regions go to projects that may violate international law. Atlas Copco always complies fully with all trade laws, regulations and sanctions. There is no new information that we can share about the concerned business or the customer."
None of our questions were answered.
On 14 April 2017, WSRW wrote to Atlas Copco that “We regret to observe that AtlasCopco does not wish to elaborate more on the business nor on the customer. We will note this in our reports. Does that mean we can expect receiving answers to the other questions we have asked - regarding international law, your website and regarding what has been done since 2013?”.
On 5 June 2017, your company responded that “We believe that we have already shared the relevant information in regards to your questions”.
On 21 June 2017, WSRW wrote that “We do notice that Atlas Copco amended parts of the article on Western Sahara on your website following our correspondence. We are glad to see that Atlas Copco has made corrections to errors on the website, just as it did in 2013, after our correspondence at the time. Please notice that the references to the United Nations on your website are still misleading.
Those references are liked to the issues of international law that we have not received answers to. WSRW also asked two further questions. We received no answer to that latest mail.
Based on this correspondence, it is not today possible for us – nor for the Saharawi people who owns the resources which Morocco is illegally exploiting with the help of Atlas Copco equipment – to know how you assess these matters.
We find Atlas Copco’s unwillingness to engage on the matter as regrettable. WSRW is publishing a new report on the role of international companies in Morocco’s plunder of Western Sahara’s phosphate rock in April 2019. In view of that, we would appreciate, again, an answer to the questions we asked on 27 March 2017.
In addition, we would like an answer to the following questions:
1) In 2013, your company published an article on your website called “Business near occupied and Non-Self Governing territories” on this URL: http://www.atlascopcogroup.com/sustainability/living-by-the-highest-ethicalstandards/ complex-markets/occupied-territories The article outlined your position on occupied lands. The wording on that article was in 2017 changed into this: https://wsrw.org/files/dated/2017-06-06/atlascopco_website_06.06.2017.pdf Today, this article is no longer to be found on your website. Why is that?
2) On your website, under the article “Histoire Atlas Copco au Maroc”, your company explains that a delivery was made to “Phosboucraa”. The article can be found here: https://www.atlascopco.com/fr-ma/in-maroc/history - or downloaded via this link: https://www.wsrw.org/files/dated/2019-03-15/atlascopco_website_15.03.2019.pdf Why does Atlas Copco present the Phosboucraa as located in Morocco?
3) In the document “Timeline Booklet for Morocco”, seemingly published on your website in 2013, the territory of Western Sahara is presented on a map as part of Morocco. http://viewer.atlascopco.com/Timeline_Booklet_for_Morocco/Timeline_Booklet_for_Morocco.pdf The document can also be viewed here. https://www.wsrw.org/files/dated/2019-03-15/atlascopco_timeline_booklet_for_morocco.pdf Does Atlas Copco consider Western Sahara to be part of Morocco?
As our report is out in April, we appreciate an answer before our internal deadline, 22 March 2019. Looking forward to hearing from you,
Erik Hagen Board member, Western Sahara Resource Watch
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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