NGOs Call On Diamond Industry to Clean Up Its Act

150 150 Rapaport News

PRESS RELEASE

25TH OCTOBER 2002

World Diamond Cop-Out:

NGOs Call on the Diamond Industry to Clean Up Its Act

As the World Diamond Congress (WDC) meets in London on 27-29 October

2002, ActionAid, Amnesty International and Global Witness will be

there with a strong message for the diamond industry: the time for

talking is over. The diamond industry must act now to eliminate the

international trade in conflict diamonds. The NGO coalition will be at

the WDC meeting to draw delegate’s attention to the fact that there

are only 66 days before governments launch the Kimberley Process, an

international control system for diamonds.

“20% of the diamonds sold worldwide are illicitly traded. Some of

these diamonds are used to buy weapons for rebel groups in Africa, as

well as financing conflicts. And yet diamond traders have failed to

act,” said Alex Yearsley of Global Witness.

The diamond industry has repeatedly committed itself to

self-regulation as part of the Kimberley Process, an international

government agreement to stem the trade in conflict diamonds through an

international diamond certification and verification system for rough

diamonds to be launched on 1st January 2003. Accordingly, forty-five

diamond producing, trading and marketing countries, including the

European Union (EU), will establish new legislation and regulations.

However, the monitoring of the system is entirely voluntary, and the

diamond industry has so far refused to make public the details of the

system of self-regulation that it proposes to introduce as part of the

Kimberley Process.

Abraham Fischler, the President of the World Federation of Diamond

Bourses (WFDB), whose members will be present at the WDC meeting in

London, recently declared with regards to conflict diamonds: “I do not

believe that the world has any right to point a finger in our

direction again…For too long, we have allowed ourselves to be

sidetracked by extraneous political issues.”

“How can 3,000 amputees in Sierra Leone and the conflicts in Angola,

DRC and Liberia be described as ‘an extraneous political issue’? The

diamond industry is conducting a PR sham to show how responsible it is

when at the same time it is dealing in conflict and illicit diamonds,”

said Yearsley.

A recent United Nations report on the Democratic Republic of Congo

presented to the Secretary General of the UN, Mr Kofi Annan, confirmed

the continued role of diamonds in funding conflicts and human rights

abuses. It condemns the diamond industry and devastatingly exposes how

diamonds are still being used to pay for weapons.

“The UN’s dramatic expose of rampant conflict diamond dealing, shows

that public statements made by the diamond industry over the last two

years have been nothing but a PR smokescreen designed to confuse

governments. Governments should be left with no option but to

legislate against these reckless diamond traders,” said Amboka Wameyo

of ActionAid.

The NGO coalition calls on the industry to “clean up its act” and to

take concrete action at all levels of the industry by:

* Immediately publishing and implementing the details of the industry

system of self-regulation;

* Implementing credible and independent monitoring of the industry

system of self-regulation as agreed by the WDC in Milan, Italy, in

March 2002;

* Developing a rigorous system of penalties to be applied to those who

continue to trade in diamonds outside this

scheme;

* Creating an intensive programme of education within the diamond

industry to ensure compliance with all of the above.

Contacts: Alex Yearsley, Global Witness – +44 (0) 7968 799 815, +44

(0)20 7272 6731 Andy Bliss, Amnesty International – +44(0) 7986

545483, +44(0) 207 413 5620

Amboka Wameyo, ActionAid – +44(0) 7753 973486, +44(0) 207 561 7614

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