KP needs to act: HRW

The Kimberley Process should press Zimbabwe to address human rights abuses in its diamond fields, Human Rights Watch said on Monday.

The US-chaired international diamond monitoring body today ends its three-day annual meeting to discuss the mining and trading of conflict diamonds.

HRW, which has in the past chronicled human rights abuses at the Marange diamond fields, also called for reforms to the KP Certification Scheme in order to address the violations. The watchdog said the abuses in Marange had exposed the KP’s inability to effectively address human rights violations.

“The Kimberly Process needs to address the ongoing human rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields, and the lack of transparency by mining companies operating there,” said Daniel Bekele, the HRW’s Africa director. Recent HRW research in the Marange area indicates that while human rights violations by the Zimbabwean military in the diamond fields are not as severe as they were in 2008, they still exist.

HRW said it remained concerned by the continued presence of the Zimbabwean army. One of the agreements between the Kimberley Process and the Government of Zimbabwe is that the fields should be demilitarized.

“Zimbabwe’s government has failed to meet its obligations to stop abuses in Marange and ensure that crimes committed there are prosecuted. The mining companies also need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” addedBekele.

HRW also called on KP members to commit themselves to preventing “blood diamonds” and other stones tainted by human rights abuse from reaching consumers.

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