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1 Mar 2018

Lydia Groche, Western Sahara Resource Watch

HeidelbergCement’s involvement in cement industry in Western Sahara

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... We have three general concerns regarding HeidelbergCement’s operations in the part of Western Sahara currently under Moroccan occupation. First, the construction and operation of the... cement factory in El Aaiún seems not to have been consented to by the Saharawi people. It is an accepted principle of international law that development in a territory such as Western Sahara – occupied militarily and non-self-governing – cannot be done unless there has been consent of the legitimate representatives of the inhabitants of the territory. Second, building infrastructure in Western Sahara entrenches the occupation. Such activity gives the appearance of normality and legitimacy to a colonization that is in itself manifestly illegal. We expect that cement - potentially from your company – is used for Moroccan infrastructure, housing programmes, administration, military etc. It is pertinent to highlight that, in general, by supporting or assisting Morocco in what is an illegal continuing occupation there is the prospect of criminal liability as a matter of international humanitarian law. The continuous reference to Western Sahara as being in “Morocco”, or “Southern provinces” underlines how a company’s presence can take part in the legitimisation of Morocco’s baseless demands to that land. Third, the Saharawi people in exile at refugee camps sees no benefit of the cement factory in Western Sahara...