NGOs Criticize Flawed Diamond Controls, Low Wages

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(Rapaport…October 26, 2004) Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada said Monday in a joint release that diamond controls in many countries are flawed and that miners in some African countries need to be paid more than a dollar a day.

The two non-governmental organizations (NGO) said these were the findings of two reports, “The Key to Kimberley: Internal Diamond Controls” and “Rich Man, Poor Man – Development Diamonds and Poverty Diamonds”.

The first report examines the implementation of new controls in Belgium, Britain, the United States, Canada, Angola, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It recognizes the “strengths of the Belgian system if implemented fully”, and criticizes US, British and Canadian regulations for weak or non-existent government audits of diamond companies.

The report is much more critical of controls in the Congo and Angola, saying tougher supervision is needed if illicit diamonds are to be excluded from the legitimate diamond trade.

“Governmental controls at the point of export in these countries are in place, but there are almost no controls one or two transactions back into the system,” Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness said.

The second report focuses on diamond fields in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Congo, where alluvial diamonds represent the primary source of income for more than a million freelance miners and their families. On average, these miners earn a dollar a day in unhealthy and dangerous working conditions, while cheating, theft and smuggling are rampant.

“Until Africa’s diamond diggers earn a fair wage, diamonds will always be a destabilizing factor in these countries,” said Ian Smillie from Partnership Africa Canada.

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