RAPAPORT… Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) was the first nongovernmental organization (NGO) to call for the ban on rough diamonds from Zimbabwe, back in December 2008. Now the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme seems set on a six-month suspension of the member country following its investigation into alleged abuses and murder at Zimbabwe’s diamond fields. But Zimbabwe claims a rough ban would hurt the nation’s economic recovery — a claim that PAC concluded is hogwash. “Arguments to the contrary by Zimbabwe’s political leaders, that diamonds are key to Zimbabwe’s economic revival, are based on deliberately inflated diamond production levels and are simply smoke and mirrors,” said Bernard Taylor, executive director of PAC.
Kimberley Process figures for Zimbabwe in 2008 place the value of its total diamond production at $44 million, an increase of 40 percent from 2007. In March, PAC released its own report on the horrors behind Zimbabwe’s diamond trade, “Zimbabwe, Diamonds and the Wrong Side of History.” PAC thus welcomed the Kimberley Process review mission and its decision to suspend Zimbabwe from the process. The report found “massive diamond smuggling and the murder of scores of artisanal diamond miners by the Zimbabwe military in October 2008 to gain control of the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe,” according to PAC.
“Without aiming to harm the country, suspension is one of the only tools the Kimberley Process has to encourage member countries to undertake the necessary reforms to meet the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme minimum requirements and thereby rejoin the world diamond regulatory body,” said Susanne Emond of PAC. PAC also repeated its call for the Kimberley Process to develop a clear and actionable protocol on gross human rights abuse in the management of a member’s diamond industry.
“The onus is on the members of the Kimberley Process to take vigorous action to prevent tainted diamonds from entering the world’s clean diamond stream,” said Taylor. “Zimbabwe is the test for the Kimberley Process to show the world it cares about human rights and is working to keep consumer confidence in the purity of diamonds.”