ROC Foreign Minister: Peace Brings Diamond Smuggling -Report

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(Rapaport…November 19, 2004) Rodolphe Adada, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Congo (ROC), said the reason there is so much diamond smuggling from the country is because it is at peace, the news service of the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reported Friday.

“Peace means that people come here more than to the other countries (that are in conflict) and conduct their illegal business peacefully,” Adada told IRIN in an interview.

He declared that the ROC is innocent of diamond smuggling, saying that the traffickers are from other diamond producing countries, such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“The government of the Congo has never illegally exploited this resource. Never!”

From what Adada told IRIN, it seems that it has not needed to. The country’s suspension from the KP has not had a great affect on its economy, he said, as it made more money from oil and timber, which has contributed to most of the country’s $2 billion annual budget.

“If you look into it you will see that there is no real benefit from diamonds for the government. The figures show that a very small amount of diamonds were declared in the ROC [each year], less than half a million dollars,” he said.

“It changes nothing with our economic plan. Certainly the smugglers get rich, but not the government,” he added.

Part of the problem is that the ROC does not “have the instruments to deal with the smuggling.”

The government has requested that KP officials and all the countries interested in stopping diamonds being smuggled through the ROC visit Brazzaville, the capital, to study the problem and see what can be done about solving it.

This is because “it is more important for them to control it than for us – also for Belgium,” he said.

“When someone arrives in Antwerp or Tel Aviv, who will stop them there? It is too late to stop them. Better to control things from the point of departure,” he said.

Adada added that there is a greater need to address the problems of policing and customs in the countries where diamonds originate than in the ROC.

He likened the problem of diamond smuggling to that of drugs in the US.

“There is a market and because of the market there is traffic. And as we and our neighbors don’t always have the means to control the traffic with efficient police, customs and mining authorities, the situation is difficult”, said Adada.

This week, mining ministers from the region met in Brazzaville and agreed to set up a regional organization to monitor the trade of diamonds in central Africa. They hope it will improve border checks and fight corruption in the industry.

“Modalities have been put in place making it more difficult for diamond traffickers to export from Brazzaville. Sure they will still come. Smuggling doesn’t just end with new rules and regulations. One needs to be on the ground,” said Adada.

He added that the situation could change if “all the countries work together,” indicating that he believes they are prepared to do that.

“This is what was already put in place in the meeting. We are not talking about a hypothesis. We are talking about what has already happened.”

(IRIN is an Internet-based humanitarian news and information service under the auspices of the United Nations. Web site:

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