HRW: diamond monitoring body must address Zimbabwe human rights issues

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Monday urged [press release] the Kimberley Process (KP) [official website] a multi-government initiative to monitor and prevent the sale of conflict diamonds, to put further pressure on the Zimbabwe government to comply with established regulations. HRW expressed particular concern about the ongoing abuses of diamond miners by government officials and police, and the continued presence of the Zimbabwean military at Zimbabwe's Marange diamond field:

Human Rights Watch's research in the Marange area indicates that while human rights violations by the Zimbabwean military in the diamond fields are not as severe as they were in 2008, abuses persist. There are significant concerns about the conduct of police and private security forces employed by companies operating in the area, and the failure of the authorities to hold to account members of the military, police and private security companies responsible for serious abuses.
HRW also called on KP to revise and strengthen its certification scheme to prevent the flow of conflict diamonds in to the stream of commerce.

Zimbabwe has faced criticism in the past for its inability to address human rights violations in diamond fields. In August 2010, the US-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network [corporate website] reiterated its stance against the sale of Zimbabwe diamonds [JURIST report] associated with human rights violations. In a letter to their members, Rapaport stated they would expel members who knowingly traded the tainted diamonds. Rapaport's letter was released a month after KP approved the sale of the diamonds [JURIST report] from the Marange mines after reaching an agreement with the Zimbabwean government. Under the agreement, the KP allowed Zimbabwe to sell a portion of its estimated USD $1.7 billion worth of mined diamonds before September of that year, and the Zimbabwean government allowed KP experts to enter the country to certify that the diamond mines meet international standards. In 2009, rights groups urged KP to suspend [JURIST report] Zimbabwe's international diamond trade due to the human rights violations allegedly committed by the Zimbabwean army against civilians and illegal workers in the Marange diamond fields.

 

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