Global Witness Calls on the EC

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The November 20 press release issued by nongovernmental organization (NGO) Global Witness:

Global Witness Calls on the European Commission and Member States to Adopt a Strong Regulation to Combat Trade in Conflict Diamonds

Global Witness is calling for the European Commission (EC) and its 15 Member States to adopt a tough regulation to combat the trade in conflict diamonds. The regulation must include the concept of extra-territoriality and must not contain any sunset provisions. Global Witness believes a strong message must be sent out to conflict and illicit diamond traders that their ways of doing business are over and that their illegal business practices in non-EC member countries will no longer be tolerated.

Currently, the European Commission and its 15 Member States are in the final stages of finalizing a Council regulation to implement the Kimberley Process. The Kimberley Process is an international diamond certification scheme to halt the trade in conflict diamonds, which fuels conflicts and finances terrorist activities. Fifty-two governments, including the European Union, have agreed to participate in the Kimberley Process and most of these countries will implement diamond control systems on 1st January 2003. The Council regulation, which will be finalized over the next few weeks, will establish the import/export control system to stop conflict diamonds from entering the legitimate diamond trade.

Global Witness understands that certain countries want extra-territoriality to be excluded from the regulation. Extra-territoriality would require that the regulation would extend to both EU Nationals living outside of the EU and EU-incorporated companies operating outside of the EU. Global Witness believes this would provide a powerful instrument for ensuring that the European diamond industry is complying with the certification scheme outside of the EU.

“It is incredibly irresponsible for governments to be opposing extra-territoriality,” said Corinna Gilfillan, Campaigner of Global Witness. “Given the role that European companies and individuals have played in conflict diamond trading, all member states should be supporting it.”

The recent UN Expert Panel’s report on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) (along with countless other UN Expert Panel reports) devastatingly expose how diamond traders, including Belgian and British diamond individuals, continue to engage in conflict diamond dealing in the DRC and elsewhere.

There is an important precedent for extra-territoriality to be included in the regulation. Council Regulations implementing the United Nations Security Council resolutions placing restrictions on diamonds from Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia do apply extra-territoriality. These regulations apply “within the territory of the Community including its air space and on any aircraft or any vessel under the jurisdiction of a Member State and to any person elsewhere who is a national of a Member State and any body which is incorporated or constituted under the law of a Member State.”

Global Witness also urges the Member States to oppose a proposal by certain countries to include a sunset provision in the regulation stipulating that the regulation would end if the participants of the Kimberley Process decide there is no longer a need for a certification scheme. Global Witness opposes the inclusion of a sunset provision because it will be crucial to have a permanent certification scheme in place to effectively prevent diamonds from funding conflict and terrorism.

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