Rabat - A panel of judges in High Court in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, has ruled that the detention of a Moroccan phosphate shipment is “correct,” reports Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), a pro-Polisario Front organization.
Rabat – A panel of judges in High Court in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, has ruled that the detention of a Moroccan phosphate shipment is “correct,” reports Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW), a pro-Polisario Front organization.
On May, 1 the NM Cherry Blossom, heading to New Zealand with 50,000 tons of phosphates exported Moroccan state-owned company Office chérifien de phosphate (OCP), was detained in Port Elizabeth following a complaint by Polisario.
The panel, which convened on Thursday, ruled that the detention “rightful” and said a trial will later on determine ownership of the cargo.
WSRW said the court decided that port authorities are “directed and authorised to remove the ship’s registration documents and trading certificates” until the case is settled.
In a previous article Morocco World News senior analyst Samir Bennis explained that the detention of the cargo constitutes a violation of international law.
Bennis said the shipment did not represent any danger to security, good order or environment.
As for Polisario and South Africa’s claim that the phosphate carried in the shipment originated from Western Sahara, Bennis explained that “to this date, there is no provision in international law that prohibits Morocco from extracting phosphates” from the region.
“The only entity habilitated to do so is the United Nations and there is no UN resolution calling on member states to detain any ships carrying Moroccan phosphates originating from the Western Sahara,” he said.
Othmane Bennani Smires, the legal counsel for OCP’s Phosboucraa subsidiary operating in Western Sahara, told Reuters back in May that Phosboucraa and its activities are in full compliance “with the United Nations framework and relevant international legal norms and standards.”
South Africa is Polisario’s second major ally in Africa, after Algeria. Therefore, the move to detain the shipment has been suspected to have political motivations.