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Cargo of Western Sahara phosphate returned

Ballance Agri-Nutrients's cargo of Western Sahara phosphate returned to its rightful owners.

The Moroccan state company OCP, on the 13th of July, has decided to drop defending the, New Zealand bound, detained conflict phosphate rock cargo in South Africa. OCP has realised that it could not defend the indefensible and walked away giving the people of Western Sahara a $USD5 million victory before the trial over the, Ballance Agri-Nutrients bound, phosphate rock ownership had even begun.

On 1 May 2017, the bulk vessel NM Cherry Blossom was detained in Port Elizabeth, on a stop-over to Ballance Agri-Nutrients in New Zealand. The vessel contained 55.000 tonnes of phosphate rock plundered from occupied Western Sahara.

The UN has concluded that any exploitation of resources in Western Sahara would be illegal if the Saharawi people do not consent to it. Similarly, the Court of Justice of the EU on 21 December 2016 judged that trading with the territory would be illegal without such consent. However, Morocco, illegally occupying parts of Western Sahara since 1975, has kept the exports of Western Sahara phosphate rock. In 2016, Morocco earned over 200 million USD from the rock export from the territory.

The second biggest importing country is New Zealand, where Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients continue to import from the occupied territory.

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Davide Contini of Western Sahara Resource Watch commented "It is a remarkable step for the people of the territory, and hopefully this could be a first step of seeing a halt to the dirty exports. No phosphate export should take place from the territory as long as Saharawis are prevented from expressing their consent as required by the International Law. We hope this also sends a signal to the importers in New Zealand and elsewhere. It should source its phosphates from lands which are not stolen",
OCP claimed that it does not have "the slightest doubt of our capacity to prevail on the merits of the facts and the rule of law in an unbiased forum" and yet despite that was unwilling to put it to the test.
Western Sahara Campaign-NZ calls on both New Zealand businesses, Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, to now source their phosphate rock from other than Western Sahara. Their continued profiting from the appalling situation of the people of Western Sahara calls into question both businesses ethical and moral stance.

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