EU Foreign Policy: Morality v. Hypocrisy

The European Union professes to follow an ethical foreign policy. Yet quite how ethical is paying the money EU residents pay their governments in taxation to Morocco, a country with a proven record of torture, to fish in the territorial waters of Western Sahara, which Morocco annexed illegally?

Recently 32 parliamentarians from Finland, Sweden and Denmark requested their Ministers of Foreign Affairs to prevent renewed EU fishing licences signed with Morocco to include catching in the territorial waters of Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. International law and all previous UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions recognise the right to self determination for the people of Western Sahara, but the UN has failed to fulfil its mandate to organize, supervise and proclaim the results of a referendum on independence for this country due to Morocco’s policy of blocking, while it siphons off the resources of the territory it annexed, enslaves its people and tortures freedom fighters.

Yet the EU pays its taxpayers’ money to Morocco to gain fishing rights not only in the Kingdom of Morocco’s waters but also those of the territory it annexed. When the Fisheries Agreement with Morocco was signed in 2006, Sweden declared that it was against international law, Denmark raised serious concerns and Finland stated that the Saharawi people of Western Sahara must be consulted. Yet the European Union ploughed ahead regardless.

The European Commission has simply ignored the conditions set forth by the Finnish government. The Saharawi people have neither been consulted, nor is there a shred of evidence to prove that they have benefited from the fisheries. The formally recognised (by the UN) Saharawi representatives, the Polisario Front and all leading members of Western Sahara’s civil society have all issued statements against the agreement.

What is more, Morocco has even more recently been condemned by Amnesty International over the torture and rape of seven male prisoners (June 28, 2010). Arrested in the city of Fes, the organization claims that five of the men were raped. They have been denied medical treatment, they have been forced to sign declarations of guilt under torture and were held in the BNPJ (National Brigade of Judiciary Police) HQ in Casablanca for 72 hours where they were tortured.

“They say they were kept naked, handcuffed and blindfolded, denied food and given very little water. All seven allege they were tortured, including in at least five cases rape with pens and other objects being forced into their anuses”.

And the European Union signs a fisheries agreement from 2007/2011 with the Kingdom of Morocco? Where is the morality, where are the ethics of the European Commission? And what are the parliamentarians of member states doing about it?

Photo: Brutality by Moroccan authorities



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Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey