KP monitor told of continuing abuses at Marange

MUTARE A local civil society group last week told Abbey Chikane, the Kimberly Process (KP) monitor, not to clear diamonds from Marange for sale because soldiers were still smuggling gems from the notorious field and committing human rights abuses.

Farai Maguwu, the director of Mutare-based Centre for Research and Development also told Chikane that workers from two firms contracted to mine diamonds at Marange in line with KP standards were stealing diamonds for sale to foreign dealers.

Maguwu met Chikane in the eastern city of Mutare last Tuesday. Chikane was in Zimbabwe on his second visit to assess whether operations at Marange comply with KP standards, a key requirement before the world diamond industry watchdog can certify stones from the Zimbabwean field clean and fit for sale on the international market.

The KP monitor told journalists in Harare that Zimbabwe was on track to meeting the world diamond industry watchdogs requirements but declined to say whether he will certify the Marange diamonds for sale. Chikane said he would state his position in a report to the KP. However Maguwu said he had handed to Chikane evidence of contintuing rights abuses and other illegal activities at Marange.

He said: I gave him evidence showing how Zimbabwe has not moved an inch in meeting KP requirements. Soldiers are still involved in illegal mining. They recruit civilians for labour and torture those who refuse to toe the line. Maguwu, whose organisation has tracked and exposed illegal diamond mining and smuggling at Marange, said he had provide Chikane with hard evidence showing soldiers were abusing villagers while smuggling and other illegal activities persist at Marange.

Zimbabwe cannot sell diamonds from Marange also known as Chiadzwa until the KP through Chikane certifies them for release on the international diamond market.

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