De Beers and JA Respond to Al-Qaida Tie to Conflict Diamonds

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(Rapaport…November 6, 2001) De Beers and Jewelers of America (JA) issued separate statements on November 6 responding to a Washington Post report that suggested that the al-Qaida terrorist network was profiting from the trade of conflict diamonds. Both De Beers and JA urged swift passage of the Clean Diamonds Trade Act and a conclusion to the Kimberley Process.

What follows are the statements issued by the two parties:

JA Statement:

The disclosure by the Washington Post detailing collusion among the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, Liberian authorities and the al-Qaida terrorist network underscores dramatically the need for immediate government action to halt the insidious traffic in conflict diamonds.

It has been known for all too long that bandits masquerading as rebels have been using the proceeds from the sale of stolen diamonds to finance their criminal behavior in some African countries. The new disclosure indicates that al-Qaida received a share of those proceeds.

The best way to halt this destructive traffic is also known. Nations involved in the diamond trade — as producers, processors and importers — must construct an effective monitoring system that protects the legitimate supply chain from the small percentage of illicit stones obtained by criminal elements.

Progress toward this end is being made. Last week in Angola, officials of relevant governments along with representatives of the diamond industry and interested humanitarian organizations continued to work toward establishing the necessary control system. The next session of this group, known as the Kimberley Process, will take place later this month in Botswana.

All segments of the diamond industry are actively supporting this constructive effort. However, strong leadership by the United States — the world’s largest importer of diamonds — is vital as well. Both industry organizations and a broad coalition of humanitarian organizations interested in the issue are united in support of the Clean Diamonds Trade Act (HR 2722) and a companion bill pending in the Senate. This legislation would empower the president to take firm action barring the importation of conflict diamonds. It would also promote an international agreement looking toward a global control system. The bill is consistent with the principles developed by the Kimberley Process and endorsed by the United Nations.

This bill has bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. All the legislators who have sought to eliminate conflict diamonds now favor HR 2722. We urge Capitol Hill and the Bush administration to enact the Clean Diamonds Trade Act during the current session of Congress in order to deny criminals and terrorists revenue from illicit traffic.

De Beers Statement:

The De Beers Group and its sales and marketing arm, the Diamond Trading Company:

· Utterly condemns the way in which these organizations are preying on otherwise legitimate industries to further their criminal and murderous activities.

· Reasserts the fact that De Beers does not buy diamonds on the open market and have not operated in Sierra Leone since 1985.

· States that De Beers and the diamond industry, through the World Diamond Council, have been working closely with the United Nations and governments, such as the United States, for more than three years to bring an end to the small but significant trade in diamonds (less than 3 percent of world production) that fund conflict.

· Emphasizes that the collaboration between the diamond industry and the international community will bring an end to the trade in so-called conflict diamonds and therefore, by association, the activities described in the article.

· Restates De Beers’ and the diamond industry’s support for legislation recently adopted by the U.S. Senate that, in addition to measures taken by the diamond industry and the international community, will ensure that diamonds traded around the world and entering the United States will have come from secure and legitimate sources.

· States that this highlights the need for an urgent and swift conclusion to the series of Kimberley Process meetings to protect the people of Sierra Leone and the 2 million people around the world whose livelihood depends on the legitimate diamond industry — many of them in developing countries.

· Calls on governments involved in the Kimberley Process to support the diamond industry’s proposals on self-regulation through appropriate legislation.

· Welcomes and applauds the evidence discovered by American and European intelligence services and calls upon the international community to use the full force of law to bring these criminals to justice.

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