Sierra Leone Wary of Kimberley Loopholes

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(Rapaport…November 6, 2002) Alhaji Swarray Deen, Sierra Leone’s minister of mineral resources, told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that unless all diamond-trading nations join the Kimberley Process, conflict diamonds may still find their way into the market.

“There will still be some loopholes for nonmembers to go into the world marketplace with illegal diamonds,” Deen said, according to the Sierra Leone Web news service. “We are encouraging everybody to join — and what we fear now is that if one or two stay out, there can be a loophole.”

He added that industry monitoring of Kimberley compliance is fine for now, but that independent monitoring should come later. Who will monitor the diamond trade remains a bone of contention between the industry and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) such as Global Witness and Amnesty International.

Asked if Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front (RUF) sold diamonds to al-Qaida, as some reports allege, Deen said the government has no proof of any connection.

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