Global human rights organisation, Human Rights Watch, says the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme on “blood diamonds”, scheduled to convene in Namibia in November, should immediately suspend Zimbabwe for continuing human rights abuses and widespread smuggling in the country’s Marange diamond fields.
Apart from worsening tin-pot behaviour by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party in recent weeks, HRW says Zimbabwe has not complied with any recommendations put forward in July that govern the global diamond industry. It also says elements of Zimbabwe’s defence forces are engaged in widespread diamond smuggling and illicit mining at Marange, often using forced labour, including children. In its report, HRW claims a soldier killed a man for hiding a rough diamond, and that rampant smuggling has seen hordes of buyers and middlemen from Lebanon, Belgium, South Africa and India openly trade Marange diamonds in the small Mozambican town of Vila de Manica, near Zimbabwe’s border. The Kimberley Process started when civil wars in nations such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola saw illicit diamonds flood world markets in return for weapons.
Photo: Employees work with diamonds at a jewellery factory in China’s southern city of Shenzhen October 19, 2009. Diamonds may have lost their lustre for many in the economic downturn, but China’s legions of wealthy, status-conscious customers are helping the precious gem trade glow again. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
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