February 3, 2018

SAHARAWI CIVIL SOCIETY CONDEMN EU EFFORTS TO UNDERMINE RIGHTS OF SAHARAWI PEOPLE

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SAHARAWI CIVIL SOCIETY CONDEMN EU EFFORTS TO UNDERMINE RIGHTS OF SAHARAWI PEOPLE

[03 FEBRUARY 2018]

As representatives of Saharawi civil society, we express serious misgivings over ongoing efforts by the European Commission to circumvent the 21 December 2016 ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which undermine the legal rights of the Saharawi people, and continue the illegal exploitation of the resources of Western Sahara.

As underlined by the Advocate-General of the ECJ on 10 January 2018, the territory is under partial occupation of Morocco, and the international humanitarian law applies. The ECJ, in December 2016, definitively ruled that Morocco has no sovereignty over Western Sahara – reaffirming the position of the International Court of Justice, the United Nations and the African Union, that Western Sahara is a Non-Self-Governing Territory with continuing and exclusive ownership of the natural resources of the Territory. In parallel, the ECJ ruling reaffirmed that any agreement pertaining to Western Sahara’s natural resources requires the consent of the representatives of the Saharawi people, General Assembly Resolution 34/37 establishes those representatives as Frente POLISARIO.

We therefore express our deep concern at the ongoing negotiations between Morocco and the European Commission to include Western Sahara in trade agreements with Morocco without the consent of the Saharawi people through its legitimate representative, the Frente POLISARIO. To this date, no serious scrutiny of this process has been allowed, the mandate for these negotiations has not been published, and the Commission has not made any genuine attempts to engage with POLISARIO as the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people.

We understand that the EU Commission now seeks to undertake a consultation process after concluding a negotiated deal with Morocco, however neither the terms of participation nor the list of groups to be consulted have not been published. Thus far this process is not being conducted in a transparent or credible manner; nor has there been any public announcement of this process. Many groups have received a request from the EU Commission to attend a consultation meeting the capital city of Morocco. It is deeply concerning that the EU would host a consultation with Saharawis in the land of its illegal occupier; with no guarantee that Morocco will not and cannot exert undue influence on participating parties; including through intimidation, and threat of violence or retaliation. We have yet to see any consultation which takes into account Saharawis living in the non-occupied parts of the territory or the refugee camps.

We also observe with frustration that the Commission replaces the deliberate terminology of ‘Saharawi people’, with ‘population’. These concepts are fundamentally different. Consulting Moroccan organizations, parliamentarians and businesses about Western Sahara can never replace the consent of the Saharawi people.

To be clear, our engagement in any such consultation is contingent upon it being conducted in a legitimate, open, and credible manner, including guarantees of the safety of participants to speak freely, in addition to a clear indication that the EU is prepared to act in good-faith with a view to finding a legal, just solution to the illegal occupation of Western Sahara.

Under the current conditions, we will not participate in a consultation process hosted by EU Commission which relies on Morocco, and parties sympathetic to Morocco, whose illegal occupation of Western Sahara the EU itself does not recognise, to demonstrate the consent of the Saharawi people whose land it occupies. This is a deeply destructive and unsustainable approach which directly contravenes EU and international law, strengthens and funds Morocco’s illegal occupation, and threatens to undermine the UN Political Process and the efforts of the United Nations special envoy to Western Sahara.

The Saharawi people, under Morocco’s illegal occupation, do not benefit, economically or otherwise, from the illegal exploitation of their natural resources and trade with the European Union; nor has the Saharawi people’s consent been credibly sought. Any economic gains and development as a result of the exploitation of our natural resources and their illegal trade with the EU, are selectively distributed with the sole intent of further entrenching Morocco’s illegal occupation and systematically discriminating further against the Saharawi people it occupies. We reiterate our steadfast determination to seek reparations for this illegal exploitation of our natural resources, over which we have continuing sovereignty, from all who have benefited and continue to be benefit from this exploitation.

We therefore call on the European Commission to immediately reverse the inclusion of the territory of Western Sahara from the talks with Morocco, and further to:

  1. Engage constructively with the Frente POLISARIO at the appropriate level of standing as the legitimate representative of the Saharawi people, and party to the UN peace talks.

  2. Comply with the CJEU Ruling by immediately clarifying the legal & territorial scope of ongoing trade amendment negotiations with Morocco;

  3. Make public the process by which the consent of the Saharawi people has been or will be sought as required under EU law, including publishing the list of all parties who will be consulted, the terms of consultation, & the mechanism for fair participation

  4. Undertake an unhindered and comprehensive fact-finding mission to the territory of Western Sahara to assess the humanitarian, human rights, and economic situation on the ground

  5. Conduct an urgent audit of EU Member States’ compliance with the CJEU ruling of 21st December 2016

Signed by,

Occupied territory of Western Sahara:

  1. Association for Monitoring of Resources and for Protection of the Environment in Western Sahara (AMRPENWS)

  2. Saharawi Committee for the Defense of the Self-Determination of the People of Western Sahara (CODAPSO)

  3. The Saharawi Association for Victims of Grave Violations Committed by the Moroccan State (ASVDH)

  4. The collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA)

  5. The Saharawi Association for the Protection and Dissemination of the Saharawi Culture and Heritage

  6. Saharawi Media Team

  7. National Television Team

  8. The Saharawi Center for Media and Communication

  9. The Association for the Protection of Saharawi Prisoners in Moroccan Prisons

  10. Western Sahara Times

  11. Bentili Media Center

  12. Committee for Support the Peace Plan and Protection of Natural Resources in Western Sahara

  13. Committee of the Mothers of the 15 Abductees

  14. Association for Justice and Human Rights

  15. The Saharawi Center for Save Memory

  16. The Saharawi Observatory for the Child and Women

  17. Forum for the Future of Women

  18. Renunciation Moroccan Nationality Group

  19. The field coordination of the unemployed Saharawi graduates

  20. Bentili Media Center

  21. Gdim Izic Coordinating for Peaceful Movement

  22. Committee of Victims of the Agdaz and Magouna

  23. Independent Media Commission

  24. The Saharawi Association for Persons with Disabilities in Western Sahara

  25. Committee of the Families of the Saharawiss Missing

  26. The Saharawis Association for the Defense of Human Rights and the Protection of Resources in Bujdour

  27. Freedom Sun Organization in Smara

  28. Saharawis Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Samara

  29. Organization Against Torture in Dakhla, western Sahara

  30. The Saharawi committee for the defence of human rights in Zag

  31. The Saharawi committee for human rights monitoring in Assa

  32. The Saharawi committee for the defence of human rights in Glaimim

  33. The Saharawi organization for the defence of freedoms and dignity

Saharawi refugee camps:

  1. Comisión Nacional Saharaui de Derechos Humanos (CONASADH)

  2. Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis (UNMS)

  3. Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UGTSARIO)

  4. Unión Nacional de la Juventud de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UJSARIO)

  5. Unión Nacional de Estudiantes de Saguia El Hamra y Rio de Oro (UESARIO)

  6. Unión de Juristas Saharauis (UJS)

  7. Unión de Periodistas y Escritores  Saharauis (UPES)

  8. Observatorio Saharaui de Recursos Naturales

  9. Asociación de Familiares de Presos y Desaparecidos Saharauis (AFAPREDESA)

  10. Grupo Non-Violence Active (NOVA SAHARA OCCIDENTAL)

  11. Asociación de Víctimas de Minas (ASAVIM)

  12. Asociatción de Abogados Saharauis (UAS)

  13. Campaña Saharaui para la sensibilisación sobre el peligro de Minas (SCBL)

Saharawi Diaspora :

  1. Saharawi association in the USA (SAUSA)

  2. VZW de vereniging van de Saharawi gemeenschap in Belgie – Belgium

  3. Association culture Sahara – centre de France

  4. Association des femmes Saharawi en France

  5. La league des jeunes et des etudients Saharawi en France

  6. Asociación de abogados saharauis en España

  7. Asociación de médicos saharauis en España

  8. La liga de deportistas saharauis en España

  9. La liga de periodistas saharauis en España

  10. Comunidad Saharaui en las palmas

  11. Asociación de saharauis en Tenerife

  12. Asociación de saharauis en Fuerteventura

  13. Colectivo saharaui en Lanzarote

  14. Asociación de saharauis en bal

  15. Asociación ARDI HURRA en Sevilla

  16. Asociación de saharauis en lebrija

  17. Colectivo de saharauis en Jaén

  18. Asociación de saharauis en jerez de la frontera

  19. Colectivo sah en estepona

  20. Comunidad Saharaui en Granada

  21. Asociación amal centro Andalucía

  22. Comunidad Saharaui en Murcia

  23. Asociación de saharauis en alicante

  24. Asociación de zamur Valencia

  25. Comunidad Saharaui en Catalunya

  26. Comunidad Saharaui en Aragón

  27. Asociación de saharauis en valdepeñas

  28. Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla la Mancha

  29. Asociación de saharauis en Ávila

  30. Comunidad Saharaui en Castilla y León

  31. Asociación de saharauis en Navarra

  32. DISABI Bizkaia

  33. Sahara Euskadi Vitoria

  34. Sahara Gasteiz Vitoria

  35. Amal nanclares

  36. Tawasol lludio

  37. Tayuch Amurio

  38. Colectivo saharaui en GIPUZKOA

  39. La liga de estudiantes en España

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