Call for Marange diamond ban

diamond__pieceHARARE A delegation from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) has called for a temporary ban on trade in diamonds from Zimbabwes Marange fields after unearthing gross human rights violations and other illegal activities at the notorious diamond fields.

In a damning report released last Wednesday, the delegation called for: A suspension on production and exports from Marange . . . until effective security, internal control measures and resources are in place in a manner that indicates that Zimbabwe has control and authority of the Marange fields.

The KPCS team that was headed by Liberian deputy mines minister Kpandel Fiya visited Zimbabwe a fortnight ago to probe reports by human rights groups that the countrys military used brutal force to control access to Marange and to take over unlicenced diamond mining and trading following discovery of the gemstones there in June 2006.

In a report ahead of the KPCS visit, New York-based Human Rights Watch accused Zimbabwes military of conscripting villagers both adults and children to mine diamonds at Marange. Harare denies allegations of human rights abuses at Marange and says calls to ban diamonds from the fields were unjustified because the country is not at war or involved in any armed conflict.

But Fiyas team said it had discovered abuses of civilians in Marange which it said must be stopped. In a damning report the team also said it had discovered and observed a variety of illegal diamond mining and processing activities in Marange.

Wound and scars
“Our team was able to interview and document the stories of tens of victims, observe their wounds, scars from dog bites and batons, tears and on going psychological trauma, Fiya said in a statement to Zimbabwe Mines Minister Obert Mpofu.
He added: “I am from Liberia, Sir I was in Liberia throughout the 15 years of civil war, and I have experienced too much senseless violence in my lifetime, especially connected to diamonds. In speaking with some of these people, Minister, I had to leave the room. This has to be acknowledged and it has to stop.”

Fiyas team said Zimbabwe must acknowledge that diamond mining at Marange had not complied with KPCS minimum standards and urged Harare to act urgently to ensure compliance with prescribed standards. During its tour of Zimbabwe, the KPCS team met with senior government, police and defence officials. It also met officials from diamond mining firms as well as traditional chiefs, human rights activists and lawyers and groups involved in counselling of victims of violence.

The KPCS is a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stop trade in conflict diamonds rough diamonds used by rebel movements and other rouge groups to finance wars against legitimate governments.

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