Dec. 6 (GIN) – So-called ‘blood diamonds’ are again on the market, glittering in the showcases of the world’s toniest shops, as the regulators who certified good stones from those mined at the point of a gun are now at odds.
Human rights watchdog Global Witness this week said that loopholes and foot dragging by members of the Kimberley Process, a diamond certification body, fatally damaged the institution, and they pledged to withdraw.
The UK-based group said it was particularly outraged by authorized exports from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields where 200 miners were killed during an army occupation. Mining concessions were then granted in questionable circumstances to several companies, some linked to senior figures in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.
The diamond industry should be required to prove that the gems it sells are not fuelling abuse said Charmian Gooch, a founding director of Global Witness … Consumers have a right to know what they’re buying, and what was done to obtain it,” added Gooch.
“Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes” said Gooch.
Zimbabwe officials downplayed the departure of Global Witness. “They are in the business of lobbying, and we are in the business of selling diamonds,” said deputy mines minister Gift Chimanikire. “We will sell those diamonds. That will not stop us.”