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Diamond trading group bans sale of Zimbabwe stones over rights violations

The US-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network [corporate website] on Sunday reiterated its stance against the sale of Zimbabwe diamonds [press release] associated with human rights violations. In a letter to their members, Rapaport stated they will expel members who knowingly trade the tainted diamonds and that they will publish the names of members who trade the stones. Last week, the Kimberley Process (KP) [official website] certified approximately 900,000 carats of diamonds from Marange, Zimbabwe [Fair Trade backgrounder], stating that the mines producing the stones met required minimum international standards [CP report]. Rapaport noted that KP certification may allow the stones to be sold in certain jurisdictions, but warned that it is illegal for citizens from the US, EU and UK to knowingly trade diamonds from the Marange diamond fields. They also cautioned that KP certification does not guarantee that the diamonds are not associated with human rights violations and that KP does not have a mandate to deny certification for diamonds involved in human rights violations.

KP approved the sale of the diamonds [JURIST report] from the Marange mines last month, after reaching an agreement with the Zimbabwean government. Under the agreement, KP will allow Zimbabwe to sell [NYT report] a portion of its estimated USD $1.7 billion worth of mined diamonds before September, and the Zimbabwean government will allow KP experts to enter the country to certify that the diamond mines meet international standards. Diamonds sales after September will be contingent upon this certification. Last November, rights groups urged KP to suspend [JURIST report] Zimbabwe's international diamond trade due to the human rights violations [Telegraph report] allegedly committed by the Zimbabwean army against civilians and illegal workers in the Marange diamond fields.

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