Global Witness Praises Zimbabwe Suspension Measure

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RAPAPORT… Global Witness welcomed a proposed suspension of trading in rough diamonds from Zimbabwe at the suggestion of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Global Witness called upon Zimbabwe and all participating governments to act to stop human rights abuses taking place in Zimbabwe’s diamond fields and to restore the credibility of the Kimberley Process.

“Their interim report has found its way into the public domain: It shows that the mission found clear evidence of human rights abuses, and recommends a ban on Zimbabwe trading in diamonds, for at least six months,” according to Global Witness. The group “wholly supports” full suspension. “The Marange diamond fields have been the scene of horrific human rights violations, military activity and rampant smuggling over the past year — all of which has been substantiated by the recent review mission. These activities are entirely incompatible with the values and requirements of the scheme,” said Elly Harrowell, campaigner with Global Witness, which was one of the original architects of the Kimberley Process.
 
“The Kimberley Process has a poor track record of dealing with problem cases quickly and effectively. This is [a] litmus test for the scheme’s credibility. If member governments fail to take prompt and effective action by suspending Zimbabwe, consumer confidence will be seriously shaken, which will be a blow for diamond exporting countries and the industry alike,” she added. 
 
Harrowell also noted, though, that suspension alone is not enough. “Participant governments must actively support efforts to reform Zimbabwe’s diamond industry in line with Kimberley Process minimum standards. Suspension should not be seen as a punitive measure, [but] rather an opportunity for Zimbabwe to build a clean diamond sector that will contribute to the future development of the country.”

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