Call for Zim to scrap sale of blood diamonds

A rights group on Wednesday called on Zimbabwe to abandon plans to sell “blood diamonds” from a field plagued by abuses, after a court gave the green light for the sale to go ahead.

Global Witness made the appeal the day after Zimbabwe’s high court approved the sale of the diamonds from the Marange field in defiance of the Kimberely Process, which governs the ethical sale of the stones.

“What has been taking place in Marange is unconscionable and there is no way that exports should restart until the government can prove that it has taken the necessary action to end the abuses and hold the perpetrators to account,” Global Witness campaigner Elly Harrowell said in a statement.

“If the government goes ahead with its plan to sell diamonds without prior approval from the Kimberley Process, it will be in breach of its commitments and should face suspension.”

A failure to do so could affect consumer confidence in the international diamond market, Harrowell said.

Sale blocked
The sale of the diamonds owned by British-owned African Consolidated Resources (ACR) was blocked last year by the international regulator after it found that Zimbabwe had failed to comply with human rights standards.

The Kimberley Process was set up to prevent the sale of so-called blood diamonds, which are used to fund rebel movements.

The state-run Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday that the high court had approved the sale of 129 000 carats of diamonds belonging to ACR.

In February, Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court ordered two government firms to stop operations on the ACR fields. The case was brought to court by ACR in a bid to win back its mining rights which had been suspended in 2006.

Since the suspension, the Zimbabwean government and the London-listed ACR have been in a legal fight over the ownership of the diamond fields.

In March, a Kimberly Process investigator visited the country to determine if human rights standards were being met in the country’s Marange diamond fields.

The investigator found that while procedures looked good on paper, they were not being implemented. Zimbabwe was given until June to fix the abuses. – AFP

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