EU-MOROCCO PARTNERSHIP BREACHES INTERNATIONAL LAW, WARNS MEP
MEPs in Strasbourg have voted for a proposed fisheries deal between the EU and Morocco which would legitimize the kingdom’s invasion of Western Sahara and persecution of the Saharawi people – and breach several international treaties, a Euro-MP has warned.
“The fisheries agreement as it stands would give EU boats the right to exploit the natural reserves of the Saharawi people – a right they have explicitly not granted and which the occupying nation, Morocco, has no legal right to grant,” said Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South-East England.
But members of the European Parliament today voted to support the proposed deal – after the UK government advised MEPs not to oppose it. The Fisheries Partnership Agreement will be subject to a full vote of the European Parliament in Strasbourg next week.
“Putting the official stamp of approval on any deal with Morocco over EU access to the territory it occupied during its invasion of Western Sahara – including its territorial waters – will make the EU complicit in region’s terrible and ongoing human rights abuses,” she added.
“The UK’s refusal to direct Labour MEPs to oppose the deal reveals a Government which cares more about commercial and political concerns than international law and preventing human rights abuses and conflict.”
Since Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco some 30 years ago tens of thousands of Saharawi people have been forced out of their homes. They and their children continue to live in refugee camps in the Algerian desert. Meanwhile thousands more Saharawis live in the Occupied Territory of Western Sahara, facing harsh repression and grinding poverty.
Polisario, the internationally recognized representative of the Saharawi people, has written to Prime Minister Tony Blair explicitly and publicly condemning the inclusion of the waters off the Western Sahara in the fishing agreement.
Dr Lucas is also challenging the legality of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement in a series of Parliamentary Questions and correspondence with the European Commission
The MEP, who is also Principal Speaker of the Green Party, said: “If the EU is to be a force for peace it simply must respect international law intended to protect nations from occupation and invasion. Failure to do so will send out the signal that countries annexing their neighbours and persecuting their indigenous peoples needn’t present a bar to doing business with the EU.”