Britain Lacks Progress to End Conflict Diamonds

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(Rapaport…March 28, 2004) Non governmental organizations and activists have alleged that while Britain calls for action by rich nations to stop Africa’s descent into poverty and misery, it has failed to stop British-based firms that make money in Africa through looted diamonds and bribes.

According to a Reuters report on March 28, a group of British members of Parliament have tabled a report detailing the government’s slow progress in investigating British firms accused of profiteering from a five-year war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in which millions died.

A United Nations panel of experts listed 18 British-based firms among 85 companies accused of helping to fuel the conflict through activities such as trading looted diamonds, or securing lucrative contracts with warlords. The MPs’ report says British investigators have been hampered by a lack of resources, saying they have only issued public statements after two of the cases.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued a report saying not a single firm or person has been prosecuted since its anti-bribery convention came into force in Britain in 2001. It cited a lack of political will and resources for the slow progress.

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