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Government must investigate phosphate shipments

Government must investigate phosphate shipments


New Zealand will risk its reputation as nation that abides by international
law if it allows a newly arrived shipment of phosphate, apparently from
Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, to be used in this country without
investigating its origins, the Green Party says.

The shipment, being carried by Panamanian registered Bianco Zealand, has
already unloaded part of its shipment in Lyttleton and is due to arrive in
Napier at midday today. It has come from the Port of Laayonne in occupied
Western Sahara.

All the evidence we have points to the phosphate being mined in Western
Sahara and is being sold by the Moroccan state-owned mining company OCP
without the consent of the people of Western Sahara, Green Co-Leader Russel
Norman says.

The United Nations issued a legal opinion in 2002, saying that if Western
Sahara's phosphate was exploited with disregard to the interests and wishes
of the people of that country then it would be in breach of international
law. We may now be participating in this breach of international law.

This is potentially damaging to New Zealand's good reputation. It is
certainly not desirable for New Zealand to be seen as a country that is
receiving stolen property, says Dr. Norman

New Zealand farmers don't realise that they may be fertilising their
pasture with phosphate taken from people in Western Sahara living under a
military occupation, and I'm sure if they knew they would want to use
alternative sources.

We know that Ravensdown Fertiliser has an agreement with OCP for its
Superphosphate product and we call on them and other fertiliser companies to
ensure the phosphate they are buying does not come from Western Sahara.

We also call on the Government to step in to stop such trade.

The people of Western Sahara have had their country occupied by Moroccan
troops, surely the very least they deserve from us in New Zealand is that we
don't join in the strip mining of their natural resources by the occupying
power.

Even the United States has excluded products coming from Western Sahara
from its free trade deal with Morocco.

Ravensdown is a cooperative set up by farmers trying to work together for
their common good. I support this sentiment and I am sure they would want
extend the circle of compassion to the people of Western Sahara by refusing
to buy phosphate taken from their country without their permission by an
occupying force, Dr Norman says.

Let's not fertilise our fields with blood and tears.

Ends


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