RAPAPORT… As Charles Taylor sits awaiting trial at The Hague for his crimes against humanity, the country he once ruled lifted a moratorium on diamond trading.
On July 27, 2007, Liberia’s deputy minister of lands, mines, and energy, Kpandeh Fayia, said that as of July 30, people could once again apply for diamond mining, selling, and broker licenses.
Liberia’s six year moratorium was created to comply with sanctions imposed by the United Nations in May 2001 as a response to former President Taylo’rs use of the nation’s diamond resources to fund a war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Taylor was ousted and exiled to Nigeria in 2003 as part of a peace deal. He is currently awaiting trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity.
The United Nations lifted their sanctions last May, due to Liberia’s ongoing efforts under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to comply with the Kimberly Process and international transparency. President Johnson-Sirleaf has opened 10 diamond screening and evaluation offices so far, and saw her nation participate in a Kimberly Process meeting during June as a full member for the first time.
While the diamond trade is relatively small in Liberia as compared with the rubber and timber industries, the government is hopeful that renewing diamond trade will help alleviate present economic woes and the 85 percent unemployment rate.