Rabat – Converging reports have brought into question Polisario’s claims of victory in a legal battle over phosphates in the High Court of New Zealand.
When it comes to Western Sahara, the Algerian-backed Polisario Front does not miss an opportunity to tell tall-tales and spread fake news. In the latest of such incidents, the Sahara Press Service, Polisario’s “official” outlet, reported on March 15 that New Zealand’s High Court has ruled that “Morocco has no sovereignty or administrating power over Western Sahara.”
However, the New Zealand-based news agency Stuff reports that the same court “dismisses judicial review of NZ imports of Western Saharan phosphate,” and that the Polisario Front’s representation for Australia and New Zealand have lost their bid for judicial review.
According to Stuff, the Court ruled that it was not within its jurisdiction to intervene or interfere with these decisions.
Polisario initiated legal action against the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) in March, accusing it of “investing in the imports of phosphates extracted and imported illegally” from Western Sahara, in southern Morocco.
The representation of Polisario had initiated in March 2020 a legal action in New Zealand’s High Court against NZSF.
Read also: Morocco’s Sahara Diplomacy Outclassing Algeria’s ‘False Allegations’
The fund serves as the New Zealand government savings instrument, created to support retirement pensions. Its estimated value is over $ 44.5 billion.
This is not the first legal battle that the separatist group has undertaken, neither is it the first legal battle it has lost. For Polisario, the point of such legal dramas is not about winning or losing. It is about presenting a narrative that could drum up international support and sympathy, whether the narrative is true or false.
SADR’s selective reporting stated that “the Court considered that the importation of Western Sahara phosphate poses a reputational risk to New Zealand’s wider interest.”
While New Zealand’s Justice Mark Woolford accepted the reputational risk, he also noted that the stakeholders have met their “statutory obligations in the use of superphosphate on Fund farms.” It is within this context that Polisario’s judicial claims were dismissed.
For years now the separatist group has been trying to put a stop to the extraction of the phosphate from southern Morocco. The dispute in New Zealand started in 2018 when pro-Polisario protesters rallied against Moroccan phosphate shipments arriving in the country.
In a similar case in 2017, Polisario filed a complaint against OCP, a Moroccan exporter of phosphates, over a cargo shipment in Panama. The Panama court, however, denied Polisario’s claims of ownership on grounds of “insufficient evidence” and released the cargo.