Danish ship sails from occupied Western Sahara – with illegal cargo?
June 11, 2012 1 Comment
Is the Danish vessel Marianne Danica illegally shipping phosphates from the occupied territories in Western Sahara?
Marianne Danica was spotted leaving the harbour in El Aaiun (Laayoune) in Western Sahara on June 6, according to Western Sahara Resource Watch. This has been confirmed by the website Marinetraffic.com, an academic community-based project that collects and presents naval data. According to the shipping company that owns the vessel, Danish company Folmer & Co., the ship will arrive at its next destination, Kaliningrad, on June 20.
All trade with resources and goods from Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara is illegal according to international law (e.g. §1,2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), unless the Saharawis – the indigenous population of Western Sahara – accept the deal and benefit from it.
But Morocco continues to sell Western Sahara’s resources, including phosphates – one of Western Sahara’s the most abundant natural resources – that is mainly used in fertilizers. According to the Western Sahara liberation front, the Polisario, these transactions constitute a plundering of their resources.
Folmer & Co. deny that they have acted illegally. “I have contacted The Danish Shipowners’ Association and have been informed that sailing raw materials out of Western Sahara is not illegal. All our shipments are legal, as shipping goods to and from Western Sahara is not illegal,” Director of Folmer & Co., Jørgen Folmer, says in a mail to Africa Contact.
He neglected to answer a question as to what Marianne Danica’s cargo was, however. According to FleetMon.com the ship is sailing with “dangerous goods, IMO [International Maritime Organisation] cat. A,” a category that includes phosphates. It is therefore likely that Marianne Danica is transporting phosphates, and if its cargo is not from Western Sahara, why ship it from El Aaiun?
Other Danish vessels have previously transported Western Saharan phosphates, including D/S Norden in 2010 and J. Lauritzen in 2008. And Folmer & Co. have been involved in controversial weapons trading for decades.
Recently, Marianne Danica transported 7 tons of teargas and other weaponry to be used by Mubarek’s regime to clamp down on last years pro-democracy demonstrators. Folmer & Co. was criticised by Amnesty International for this and the matter was discussed in the Danish parliament.
The article in Danish