WSC UK | 4 December 2014
WSC UK threaten legal action against UK government
WSC UK, working together with law firm Leigh Day, is threatening legal action against the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
We believe that products originating in Western Sahara are being imported into the United Kingdom and treated as Moroccan for the purposes of the EU – Morocco Association Agreement. We also believe British fisheries may be granted licences to fish in the territories of Western Sahara under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Morocco. Leigh Day has advised WSC UK that both such activities are unlawful.
In letters sent to both DEFRA and HMRC, lawyers from Leigh Day say that Moroccan sovereignty does not extend to the territory of Western Sahara or to the adjacent territorial sea. Therefore goods and products produced in West Sahara should not to be treated as originating in Morocco for the purposes of preferential tariffs or any other benefits conferred by the Association Agreement. British companies should also not exploit the natural resources of an occupied territory under an agreement to which the occupied peoples were not party. To do so would undermine the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people and recognise as lawful a situation which is unlawful under international law.
Rosa Curling from Leigh Day says:
“It appears that Morocco is currently benefitting from exporting goods from land and sea it occupies in Western Sahara, against international law. The people of Western Sahara are being denied the right to self-determination over their land and natural resources. The UK government, and in particular, DEFRA and HMRC must take immediate steps to ensure it is not complicit in these actions.”
WSC UK Coordinator, John Gurr, says:
“Paying Morocco or Moroccan companies for resources from Western Sahara supports the Moroccan occupation and undermines the UN peace process”.