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Western Sahara

On 13 July, the occupied people of Western Sahara won a major victory when the Moroccan state company OCP dropped its claim to 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock mined in the territory.

The rock was on board the NM Cherry Blossom, which was detained in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 1 May, on its way to New Zealand. The Sahrawi liberation movement Polisario argued the phosphate had been illegally removed as the operation did not have the consent of the people of Western Sahara.

The South African high court ruled on 15 June that the ownership of the cargo would have to be determined in a trial. The Moroccan government decided not to contest the case, and gave up its rights to the US$5m-worth of minerals.

Last issue, we reported that Panama had detained another phosphate ship on its way from Western Sahara to Canada. The Ultra Innovation was released on 21 May, and on 8 June the Panamanian courts refused to continue with Polisario's court case.

Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.

Western Sahara Resource Watch has a new report on conflict minerals: www.wsrw.org

Topics: Western Sahara