The High Court of South Africa published the ruling today on the cargo of phosphates transported on the ship “NM Cherry Blossom” which it transported from the occupied territories of Western Sahara.
The cargo sold by OCS and Phosphates of Bucraa SA, Moroccan state-owned companies that illegally exploit phosphates from the occupied territories of Western Sahara to two companies (Australian and New Zealand).
The vessel carrying 55,000 tonnes of phosphate was detained on 1 May 2017 when it landed at Port Elisabeth in South Africa.
By a decision issued on 23 February, the High Court of South Africa concluded that: (1) SADR “is the owner of all phosphate cargo currently loaded on the vessel NM Cherry Blossom” and (2) “ownership of the phosphate was never legally invested “in Moroccan state-owned companies OCP SA and, Phosphates de Boucraa, SA” and they were not entitled to sell phosphate to “Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd.”
In a statement published by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic it can be read that although the policy position of the SADR government continues to insist and try to resend the looted natural resources of Western Sahara to that territory, pending the conclusion of the right of the Saharawi people to exercise self-determination, the fact that Western Sahara is under armed occupation makes this result not pratical.
With a clear owner’s title on the merchandise aboard the NM Cherry Blossom now secured, it is predicted that cargo will be sold.
Polisario leader Emhamed Khadad said that “the case of South Africa is part of the efforts of the Saharawi people to use international law to end a vicious and illegal occupation and safeguard the right of our people to the most fundamental right we will continue to persecute people and corporate interests who directly plunder the resources of Western Sahara and who are the recipients of knowledge of the looted goods.The Saharawi Republic is committed to the rule of law and to successful commercial relationships involving the resources of Western Sahara, both now and in the future. ”
Again, the SADR government warns shipping companies, including charterers, to take their ships away from such prospective liability and dismissal processes. It is understood that travel charterers and management companies will not always disclose such risks. Therefore, the SADR government suggests that ships’ contracts prohibit the transport of resources (or any merchandise) from Western Sahara.
A stated charterpartty term could be as follows:
“The charterers are not allowed to negotiate the transport of this vessel to / from El Aaiun
(also known as Laayoune) and Dakhla in Western Sahara.