4 Mar 2012

Sardines, human rights and Western Sahara

Congrats to the Coop - more of that in a mo but first - the UN mission in Western Sahara (MINURSO) remains the only contemporary UN mission that does not monitor human rights. Last year the Western Sahara Campaign led the world wide campaign for the MINURSO mandate to include human rights monitoring. This was partially successful; though monitoring was not included, language on human rights was introduced into the resolution.

However this has failed. To date the sum total of UN efforts consists of a 1 day visit to Dakhla by the UN Independent Expert on Cultural Rights. The Special Rapporteur on Torture has been trying to arrange a visit to Western Sahara for over six months; it is still being blocked by Morocco. It seems that torture, false imprisonment and violence continue.  In August and September 2011 alone 34 instances of serious human rights violations perpetrated against Saharawi citizens by members of the Moroccan Security Forces were reported.

The Security Council has a responsibility to protect the people of Western Sahara and to hold Morocco to account. Take action to tell the Security Council to monitor human rights at: http://www.smalgangen.org/a145x1028

No more Moroccan sardines!

Meanwhile Co-operative brand sardines are packed in Morocco using Sardines (Sardina pilchardus) caught in the Central-Eastern Atlantic (FAO 34). Unfortunately it cannot be confirmed or not if any sardines caught in FAO 34 come from the disputed Western Saharan waters. The Co-operative Group operates a Human Rights and Trade Policy, which sets out the exceptional circumstances under which The Co-operative will suspend trading activity with a sovereign state or designated region. This includes a commitment not to source from areas "where there is a broad international consensus that the status of a designated region is illegal and where there is evidence that trade is directly linked to the oppression of the population". Moroccan settled areas of Western Sahara have been identified as meeting this condition.

In line with this Policy, and reflecting the fact that the Coop cannot guarantee that own-brand sardines sourced from FAO 34 do not come from the disputed waters, they have now taken the decision to move out of own-brand sardines until such a time that they can get the required level of traceability to ensure this Policy is adhered to. Well done Coop!

Click on the Western Sahara label to read more.

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