KP tightens screws on Marange diamonds

abbey_chikane_threeHARARE The Kimberley Process (KP) has placed its members on high alert amid allegations that Zimbabwe has exported a US$160-million parcel of diamonds from Marange to India in violation of an embargo on trade in gems from the controversial fields. (Pictured: KP mon

KP chairperson Boaz Hirsch said KP participants must exercise vigilance and immediately report to the bodys Working Group on Monitoring (WGM) any shipments suspected to contain diamonds illegally exported from the Marange fields. He said no trade in Marange diamonds can currently take place until Zimbabwe meets the conditions of a Joint Work Plan (JWP) agreed by both parties at a plenary meeting held in Namibia last November.

Under the JWP Zimbabwe committed to a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields and for a monitor to examine and certify that all shipments of diamonds from Marange met KP standards. Participants are therefore reminded of the need for vigilance and ask participant to notify the WGM chair in the event of receipt of an irregular shipment of Marange diamonds, until new arrangements are agreed that will allow continued implementation of the Joint Work Plan, including the supervised export mechanism, Hirsch said in a notice to KP members.

KP monitor Abbey Chikane allegedly cleared a batch of Chiadzwa stones for export two weeks ago without seeking the watchdogs approval. Diamonds worth some US$160 million were sold and may have been already exported to India. The action by the South African monitor came despite the failure by KP participants to agree on trade in Marange stone during a meeting in Jerusalem earlier this month.

Zimbabwe was granted more time to fall in line with the minimum international standards of diamond trade. But there are still ongoing reports of brutal military control of the diamond fields and smuggling. At a special meeting in Russia in July, KP members agreed to permit Zimbabwe to export two shipments of diamonds under supervision of the body’s monitors, on condition that the body would investigate conditions in the Marange fields.

The agreement also tied all future exports of diamonds to clear and measurable progress in ending smuggling and abuses, and allowed for local civil society groups to participate in monitoring progress in the fields.

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