tagged w/ Blood Diamonds
A recent report from Enough Project ranked the top 21 electronics manufacturers, showing their progress in creating products with conflict-free minerals and the steps they've taken to ensure that. EP estimates that conflict mining is a $185 million business, which is even more shocking when you consider the World Bank says average the average miner makes only $5 a day.
====== report ===================
By Michelle Castillo, TechLand, on December 15, 2010
Many of our electronic devices are made up of minerals like tantalum, used to make the capacitors in most cell phones, and tin, which makes up the inside lining of some cell phones and is used to solder circuit boards. Unfortunately, many of these materials come from conflict-ridden areas of the Congo, where increasing profits from electronic sales help fund the inhumane treatment of people who live and work in the country. The Enough Project, an advocacy group focused on ending genocide and crimes against humanity, estimates that conflict mining is a $185 million business, which is even more shocking when you consider the World Bank says average the average miner makes only $5 a day.
According to Raise Hope for Congo, more than 5.4 million people have died from the continuous wars that ravage the country. The organization urges people to tell companies that they want conflict free products. Congo's minerals are especially attractive to electronic manufacturers because of unregulated mining practices and cheap labor. Minerals from the African nation cost half or a third as much the same materials from other countries, according to the Washington Post. Though the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act requires manufacturers to identify and get rid of conflict minerals in their products and similar legislation will be mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in 2011, Congolese mines are often controlled by armed groups and militias. These groups smuggle the minerals out of the country to smelting companies on other continents, which means the origin of the minerals can often be masked even from the company commissioning the product. Even though Congo's president announced a ban on all artisanal mining in eastern Congo last August, the ruling has not been enforced by the country's national military and has even negatively affected the citizens who work in the mines as a main source of income.
A recent report from Enough Project ranked the top 21 electronics manufacturers, showing their progress in creating products with conflict-free minerals and the steps they've taken to ensure that. Leading the pack was HP with an over 30 percent improvement. The company has endorsed anti-conflict mineral legislation and advocates for strong US regulations for all manufacturers. Apple, who uses tantalum not only in their smartphones but in iPods as well, were given a yellow score, which means there is much room for improvement. (Though several of their top executives have spoken out against conflict mineral mining in the Congo, they did not weigh in on key US conflict mineral legislation.) Toshiba received the worst score of the bunch; they have barely made any changes at all according to the study. Enough Project knows it may be hard for the average consumer to tell whether or not they are helping fund a war over natural resources just by looking at a product. Still, the group hopes that especially this holiday season when people are out shopping for the latest gadgets that by being little more knowledgeable about which companies are taking a stand against genocide and human rights abuses, shoppers can judge for themselves whether or not to support these crimes against humanity.
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Is Your Mobile Device or Laptop Funding Conflict Mineral Wars?
By Michelle Castillo on December 15, 2010
http://techland.time.com/2010/12/15/is-your-mobile-device-or-laptop-funding-conflict-wars/A recent report from Enough Project ranked the top 21 electronics manufacturers,... more
The United Nations has ordered 900 peacekeepers to a remote region of Democratic Republic of Congo, where the LRA killed more than 1,000 adults and children around Christmas in 2008 and 2009 and kidnapped hundreds more, to head off feared Christmas attacks by Lord's Resistance Army fighters.
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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations has ordered 900 peacekeepers to a remote region of Democratic Republic of Congo, to head off feared Christmas attacks by Lord's Resistance Army fighters, a spokesman said Tuesday.
UN forces will go to a region where the LRA killed more than 1,000 adults and children around Christmas in 2008 and 2009 and kidnapped hundreds more.
The UN mission in DR Congo is also sending extra humanitarian supplies to the region, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.
A special operation against the LRA has been launched in the Dungu district of Upper Uele region and would carry on until mid-January because of fears of the "holiday season" attacks, Nesirky said.
The announcement came after the UN Security Council called for greater international action against the LRA, which is led by Joseph Kony who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The LRA sprang out of a rebellion in Uganda in the 1980s but now terrorizes communities in Central African Republic, southern Sudan and DR Congo.
The Security Council welcomed an African Union move to set up a joint task force to fight the LRA and deploy joint border patrols.
"It calls for the countries of the region to enhance coordination and information sharing regarding the the threat posed by the LRA," said a Security Council statement on efforts to bring peace to Central African Republic.
Ugandan special forces currently lead the international hunt for Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In December 2008, LRA fighters killed 865 men, women and children in the northeastern DR Congo and in southern Sudan, and kidnapped hundreds of others.
A year later 300 people were murdered between December 14 and 17, also in northeast DR Congo.
The United States has promised to support a new effort to catch Kony and halt the conflict generated by the LRA, but in a report titled "Ghosts of Christmas Past," 19 aid agencies said the Security Council should do more.
The report said LRA attacks remote communities in Sudan, Central African Republic and DR Congo almost four times a week.
"These communities await Christmas with fear," added the groups, who include Oxfam, Christian Aid, Refugees International, World Vision and War Child UK, among others.
The UN refugee agency said in October that the rebels had killed 2,000 people since December 2008, kidnapped more than 2,600 and displaced more than 400,000 in DR Congo, the Central African Republic and southern Sudan.
"The acute suffering and mass population displacement the LRA has generated across international borders is undermining stability in an already fragile region, where southern Sudan is preparing to hold a landmark referendum on secession in early 2011," the report said.
The aid groups welcomed recent steps by the United States and the African Union. But it said kidnapped people had to be helped to return home and villages had to be protected.
The aid groups called on the UN Security Council to set up an expert panel as "there is a chronic lack of information about the motivation, composition and location of the LRA."
The LRA began their rebellion in northern Uganda in the late 1980s, but have not carried out an attack there since 2006.
Since south Sudanese-hosted peace talks broke down in 2008, the fighters have roamed the jungles of central Africa and been repeatedly blamed for the slaughter of defenseless civilians.
The African Union has said the LRA should be called "terrorists" rather than rebels.
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UN peacekeepers to head off Christmas massacre
(AFP) – Dec 13, 2010The United Nations has ordered 900 peacekeepers to a remote region of Democratic... more
Leaders from 11 nations in the conflict-ravaged Great Lakes region of central Africa on Tuesday signed a pledge – partly drafted by a Canadian organization – to stamp out the illegal trade of conflict minerals.
Signed at a summit in the Zambian capital of Lusaka by governments including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, the pledge commits signatory states to take steps to implement a regional certification system to track such minerals as they are exported from Africa for smelting in Asia.
The summit was called to address mining practices that have helped to fuel mass rapes and massacres in the eastern provinces of Congo. The illegitimate mining of minerals such as coltan, tungsten, tin and gold, which are used in electronic devices, is widespread in the region and often finances armed groups.
Among the mechanisms to be implemented is a “bag-and-tag” system in which minerals are tagged at their point of origin. The African nations also said they would create a database to make it easier to identify and track minerals that originate in areas of conflict.
The move by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region comes as governments in the United States, Canada and Europe consider legislation that would make roughly 6,000 manufacturers, including BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., responsible for tracking the minerals used in their products.
PLEASE GO AND READ THE ARTICLE !
IAIN MARLOW AND OMAR EL AKKAD
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 2:02PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 6:57PM EST
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/technology/african-leaders-pledge-to-wipe-out-trade-of-conflict-minerals/article1839121/?cmpid=rss1Leaders from 11 nations in the conflict-ravaged Great Lakes region of central Africa... more
Hundreds of women and children were raped over and over during 3 days in July, another incident reported in August... estimates indicate many thousands of women and girls are brutalized each year on a gross scale ...for the creature comforts of civilized society. Efforts to combat illicit mining of coltan and other minerals are gaining traction, as politicians in Canada and other Western governments look to establish tough penalties against the practice. When we glance at the holocaust in Congo, with about 7 million dead, the clichés of Africa reporting tumble out: this is a "tribal conflict" in "the Heart of Darkness". It isn't. The United Nations investigation found it was a ****war led by "armies of business" to seize the metals*** that make our 21st-century society zing and bling. The war in Congo is a war about you.
(Mash-Quoted from various articles included below. When you see 5.4 million quoted, that is up to 2007, estimates for up to today are at 6.5 to 7 million.)
"Dr. Mukwege [see below] believes the number of women who have been raped since the beginning of the conflict is far higher than the U.N. estimates of 200,000-300,000, saying the real figure is more like half a million."
Over 6,000 rape incidents a year (in recent years) are conservatively estimated based just on what gets reported.
And we do not see the continuing dismemberment and murders (possibly decapitations), nor much footage from the few doctors you may read about working in the tranches.
"Exploited African oil, coltan, chocolate, bauxite, gold, coffee, platinum, chromium, iron, gas, flowers, agriculture and animals are dripping in the blood of African people, making billions of dollars for Europe and America. "
"In the end, it will be consumer education and pressure that will make the difference."
Lets wake up. There's more we can be doing...
Over 10 years, and its still going strong... "The mining industry in that country relies on slave labour, violence and sexual assault. Since the popularity of smartphones has risen, warlords in the country have taken control of the mines to retrieve the precious metal, then sell it on the international market to manufacturers of the gadgets that will ultimately end up under our Christmas trees." more at this link-->
Consider how much of this is about our cell phones and laptops, DVD players, computers, digital cameras, video games, vehicle air bags, jewelry (gold and diamonds), chocolate, and more... all the things so many feel they cannot live without [sic].
And so what can we do? What are we doing? Are we forgetting to keep an eye on this?
The main article prompting me to post is marked as such below. I have included a lot of links to other interesting articles, almost all within the last couple months. There are a couple of key things we all can be doing...
- we need to keep an eye on manufacturers and govt actions behind the statute in the Dodd-Frank bill discussed below
- there's a really provocative video in my third post below, please check it out... the ideas expressed there seem to make very good sense for changing things that matter.
Q&A: DR Congo conflict (first, a little down and dirty overview)
"In November 2009, a report by UN-commissioned experts said UN involvement had done nothing to quell the violence - with rebels continuing to kill and plunder natural resources with impunity and claims the rebels are supported by an international crime network stretching through Africa to Western Europe and North America."
Timeline: Democratic Republic of Congo
Prevalence of Rape in E. Congo Described as Worst in World (sep 2007)
IPS: Activists Slam World's "Grotesque Indifference"
The following are Excerpts - go read the article:
"TORONTO, Canada, Dec 3 (IPS) - International lust for the enormous mineral and resource riches of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) abetted by international indifference has turned much of country into a colossal "rape mine" where more than 300,000 women and girls have been brutalised, say activists."
""Rape is being used as a deliberate tool to control people and territory," said Eve Ensler, a celebrated U.S. playwright and founder of V-Day, a global movement in 120 countries to end violence against women and girls."
"This "blood coltan" - akin to blood diamonds -
**generates billions of dollars of sales every year for electronics manufacturers in rich countries***
****hundreds of millions of dollars to rebels and others who control the coltan-producing regions.****
Coltan is also produced in other countries, and the DRC's "blood coltan" is often transported to those countries to give it a sheen of conflict-free provenance. "
There is a lot of news brewing if you look for it. I am disconcerted to seen almost none of it on Current. So you will forgive me if I post what may seem like to much information... I don't think you can have too much of this information and awareness about this.
What is ailing them is not isolated to "them over there". WE are a strong hand in their lives, and deaths, and suffering, by what we do, and what we fail to do.
Do you think it matters to be making an effort during your news sojourns 'out there' to find and read some news in/on Africa?Hundreds of women and children were raped over and over during 3 days in July, another... more
Some mass rapes attract more outrage than others. Two recent atrocities-- separated by just a couple of months--suggest U.N. peacekeeping jurisdiction can decide the degree to which the violations of hundreds of girls and women are noticed.
Gang rapes of nearly 500 women in remote villages in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the summer drew enormous international media, followed by a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council. They created a centerpiece for 10th anniversary discussions of U.N. Resolution 1325, which commits world governments to integrate women's special interests in peace and security negotiations.
But when approximately 650 women and girls were raped in late October--about 800 miles away, along the Democratic Republic of Congo's western border with Angola--no such international attention followed. A Google news search produces 21 viewable articles and wire alerts, roughly one-tenth those associated with the earlier North Kivu rapes.
Many of the women raped in the border attacks were among a group of 7,000 Congolese expelled from Angola in October, according to the International Committee for the Development of Peoples, a Rome-based humanitarian aid organization best known by its Italian abbreviation, CISP.
Congolese victims said Angolan security guards repeatedly raped them while they were held in deportation areas for weeks in cage-like enclosures, Antonio Mangia, protection coordinator of CISP, said in a recent phone interview.
Severine Autesserre is a professor at Barnard College, in New York City, and author of the 2010 book "The Trouble With the Congo: Local Violence and International Peacebuilding." In a recent interview, Autesserre said U.N. officials feared the mass rapes in North Kivu would be compared to the "Kiwanja incident" two years earlier when hundreds of people were massacred near the U.N. peacekeeping base.
"So they felt threatened by the charges that they had not done their job properly and had to be proactive. With the rapes on the Angola border, no one is thinking about blaming the U.N., because it is not their job to protect those refugees," Autesserre said.
Read the full story at Women's eNews http://womensenews.org/story/war/101122/congo-angola-mass-rapes-draw-scant-noticeSome mass rapes attract more outrage than others. Two recent atrocities-- separated by... more
Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been the subject of media attention as she reluctantly testified at the war crimes tribunal for Charles Taylor, and offered claims that she had no idea what a blood diamond was. Although they may capture the attention of the media, blood diamonds are not the only conflict commodities—tin ore, used extensively in consumer electronics, is also mined in war-torn regions.Do blood diamonds capture too much of the media attention? What other conflict zone commodities should we be paying closer attention to?Supermodel Naomi Campbell has been the subject of media attention as she reluctantly... more
Naomi Campbell, the British supermodel has admitted before a war crimes tribunal that she received a gift of Blood Diamonds in 1997 presumably by Liberian leader Charles Taylor, the man charged for war crimes by the tribunal.
Read more on source: http://www.buzztab.com/world/naomi-campbell-received-blood-diamonds/Naomi Campbell, the British supermodel has admitted before a war crimes tribunal that... more
Blood Diamonds are rough diamonds used by rebels against legitimate governments and according to UN, Blood Diamonds or Conflict Diamonds are diamonds that originate from areas controlled by such forces or factions that go against legitimate or internationally recognized governments and these diamonds are used to fund military activities against those legitimate governments or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.
Read more on Source: http://www.buzztab.com/world/blood-diamonds-defined/Blood Diamonds are rough diamonds used by rebels against legitimate governments and... more
Campbell was giving evidence today at a war crimes trail, on if she received blood diamonds from Charles Taylor in 1997. She was called as a witness because Taylor denies using mined diamonds for funding violence.
"Mr Taylor, 62, is suspected of selling diamonds to buy weapons for Sierra Leone's RUF rebels, who were notorious for hacking off the hands and legs of civilians during the 1991-2001 civil war. [...] Tens of thousands of people died in the interlinked conflicts in Sierra Leone and Liberia."-BBC
Naomi Campbell stated she received a pouch of 'dirty stones' from a group of men who knocked on her hotel door. Campbell said she told her former agent (Carole White) and Farrow about the incident the next morning and they guessed it was from Taylor (they had all attended a dinner the night before). Campbell denies statements by her former agent describing her as excited by the diamonds and that she sat next to Taylor during the dinner.
"She said that at the time, she was not aware of any laws on unprocessed diamonds.
She gave the stones to Jeremy Ratcliffe of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund because she wanted them to go to charity, and said when she spoke to Mr Ratcliffe on the telephone in 2009, he said he still had them.
In a letter presented in court by the defence, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund said it had "never received a diamond or diamonds from Ms Campbell or from anyone else. It would have been improper and illegal to have done so.
I didn't really want to be here. I was made to be here... This is a big inconvenience for me”
"-BBCCampbell was giving evidence today at a war crimes trail, on if she received blood... more
International pressure helped end a vicious civil war a decade ago by strangling the ability of rebels to trade diamonds for weapons. Angola is now a leading member of the so-called Kimberley Process, an industry-wide effort to prevent commerce in rough diamonds by insurgent groups. Today, Angola is the world's fifth-largest diamond producer by value, and its gems are coveted for their size and purity.
But a visit to Angola's diamond heartland reveals that plenty of blood still spills over those precious stones.International pressure helped end a vicious civil war a decade ago by strangling the... more
From the article:
"Cut and polished diamonds, regardless of what bloody conflicts they may fund, do not qualify for regulation under the Kimberley Process. Israel’s blood diamonds, therefore, are kosher."
"Because cut and polished diamonds are not regulated by the Kimberley Process, jewelers continue to sell Israeli diamonds to consumers who are, for the most part, completely unaware that the gems were crafted in Israel – where taxes from the diamond industry are used to fund the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and the brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people."
Read the whole story at link:
From the... more
From the Article:
Diamonds from African countries have been funding guerrilla wars for decades. But they're not the only precious gems with blood on their hands. Here are four more prized resources that are fraught with conflict.
Product: Burmese rubies are famous for their distinctive dark "pigeon's blood" color. Both the United States and the European Union ban Burmese gems, but outside groups estimate the junta still reaped almost $300 million from rubies in the 2006 fiscal year.
Casualties: The brutal Burmese junta, which earns much of its hard currency from the sale of gems, holds direct stakes in many of the mines and conducts official auctions to augment the profits made from illegal smuggling. At the mines themselves, child labor and diseases such as HIV/AIDS are common.
Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Product: Coltan, short for columbite-tantalite, a metallic ore that contains elements used in cell phones, is mined in the DRC's war-ravaged Kivu region. The U.N. estimates the DRC made $750 million worth of profits from coltan between 2000 and 2004.
Casualties: The 13-year-old civil conflict, which has so far claimed 5 million lives and pulled in armies from Rwanda and Uganda, is essentially a resource war over the DRC's minerals: vast reserves of diamonds, gold, tungsten, tin, and coltan. There have also been 200,000 recorded cases of sexual violence against women and girls, not to mention the destruction of one of the world's most endangered rain forests.
Product: The West African republic of Guinea is the world's primary supplier of bauxite ore, used to make the aluminum that goes in everything from soda cans to airplanes. Twenty percent of Guinea's GDP, or $857 million a year, comes from its bauxite-dominated mining industry. A Chinese firm recently agreed to invest $7 billion in Guinean infrastructure in return for mining rights.
Casualties: The bauxite bounty has not trickled down to the 70 percent of Guineans living in poverty, though mining companies are technically supposed to pay development taxes to their local communities. Meanwhile, bauxite revenues have enabled the military junta to consolidate power and ignore international sanctions.
Product: Colombia is the world's leading exporter of emeralds, accounting for half of the $280 million a year global trade.
Casualties: Emerald mafias fought a bloody "green war" in the 1980s to keep drug cartels out of the business. Violence from the rural Boyacá area extended to Bogotá, killing more than 3,500 people. Victor Carranza, the country's shady emerald czar, is accused of funding paramilitary groups, and he served jail time between 1998 and 2002 for organizing death squads. As for the mines, they rely on the children and wives of men killed in the region's ongoing violence.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/01/04/the_new_blood_diamondsFrom the Article:
Diamonds from African countries have been funding guerrilla wars... more
A story setting in Sierra Leone, where the fisherman Solomon Vandy dreams on the day that his young son Dia Vandy will become a doctor. His dreams are shattered when the rebels invade his village and kidnap him to work in the diamond mines....A story setting in Sierra Leone, where the fisherman Solomon Vandy dreams on the day... more
Human Rights Watch said Friday that Zimbabwe's armed forces have taken over diamond fields in the east and killed more than 200 people, forcing children to search for the gems and beating villagers who get in the way.
Zimbabwe's deputy mining minister, Murisi Zwizwai, denied the allegations and said the military is there to secure the area.
More than 100 witnesses, miners, police officers, soldiers and children were interviewed for the Human Rights Watch report titled "Diamonds in the Rough." It details allegations of human rights abuses by Zimbabwean armed forces in their attempt to control access to the precious gems.
The New York-based group said researchers had gathered evidence of mass graves and accounts of an incident last year when military helicopters fired at miners, while armed soldiers on the ground chased villagers from the area.
"There are hundreds of victims of human rights abuses that are unwilling to come forward for fear of the military," Zimbabwe researcher Dewa Mavhinga said.
The report also alleges that some of the income from the diamond fields is going to officials of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, long accused of trampling on human rights and democracy in the southern African country.
The international human rights watchdog is calling on Zimbabwe's coalition government, formed in February, to stop the alleged abuses and to prosecute those responsible.
It also is urging the international body that governs the global diamond industry to press Zimbabwe, a participant, to end the illegal trade in Marange diamonds. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, established in 2002, aims to stem the flow of "blood diamonds" being used to fund fighting across Africa. Participants are forced to certify the origins of the diamonds being traded. This assures consumers that by purchasing diamonds they are not financing war and human rights abuses.Human Rights Watch said Friday that Zimbabwe's armed forces have taken over... more
Lobby group Human Rights Watch has accused Zimbabwe's army of using forced labour, including children, to mine diamonds in the east of the country.
Local villagers who do not co-operate with the military are beaten and tortured, the US-based group says.
Their report also details an alleged massacre of diamond diggers last year, after the disputed elections.
It urges the unity government to take control of the mines and use the revenue to help rebuild the country.
"Zimbabwe's new government should get the army out of the fields, put a stop to the abuse," Human Rights Watch's Africa director Georgette Gagnon said.
"The police and army have turned this peaceful area into a nightmare of lawlessness and horrific violence," she said.
'Buying off the military'
The report is based on interviews done in February in Marange district.
Its researchers say that as far as they are aware, the situation has not changed since the former opposition joined the government four months ago.
Human Rights Watch claims control of the mines is part of a systematic attempt by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party to buy support from the military.
The diamond fields in Marange were seized just one month after the power-sharing deal was first agreed in September 2008.
On the face of it, the military takeover was an attempt to seize control from unlicensed miners, the lobby group says.
But in reality it was a systematic attempt to enable key army units, whose support President Mugabe needed following June's elections, to have access to riches, Human Rights Watch says.
"Documents that we reviewed that we got from the military and the police clearly indicate that this was a clearly designed system to benefit the army," researcher Dewa Mavhinga said.
Witnesses say it involved a brutal military operation that saw some 200 people killed in three weeks.
It says army brigades are still in control forcing hundreds of children and adults endure forced labour for mining syndicates.
While the new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is touring the West lobbying for aid, "millions of dollars in potential government revenue are being siphoned off through illegal diamond mining, smuggling of gemstones… and corruption", the rights organisation says.
If the diamond industry was legally regulated, Human Rights Watch estimates it could amount to $200m a month for the country.
It is calling for diamond exports from Zimbabwe to be banned and for the country to be suspended from the Kimberly Process - the certification scheme for diamonds - until the demilitarisation of the mines is achieved.
On Wednesday, Global Witness reported that the Kimberly process was failing - partly because of the situation in Zimbabwe.Lobby group Human Rights Watch has accused Zimbabwe's army of using forced... more
It's hard to have a Revolution if you choose to sit around and do nothing!
Legalize Marijuana!!!!It's hard to have a Revolution if you choose to sit around and do nothing!... more
The leading architect of the international system to stop the trade in blood diamonds has warned that the safety net is close to collapse with governments and the industry failing to act against gross violations.
Ian Smillie, the "grandfather" of the landmark Kimberley Process, that was agreed in response to appalling civil wars in Africa fuelled by illegal gems, said he had "stomped out" on his scheme as it was no longer working.
"It isn't regulating the rough diamond trade," the Canadian expert said yesterday. "It is in danger of becoming irrelevant and it's letting all manner of crooks off the hook."
The Kimberley safeguards came into effect in 2003 and helped restore consumer confidence in precious stones. Today they regulate 99.98 per cent of the rough diamond trade, but if the process loses credibility, experts say criminals will re-enter the trade with conflict diamonds quickly reappearing in shops in London, Paris and New York.The leading architect of the international system to stop the trade in blood diamonds... more
The Kimberley Process certification scheme, which aims to stop the use of diamonds to fund conflict, is failing, according to a campaign group.
Global Witness pointed to the smuggling of diamonds from Ivory Coast and an alleged massacre of diamond diggers by the military in Zimbabwe last year.
The rights group, which lobbied to set up the scheme in 2003, says it is not being adequately enforced.
Officials are meeting in Namibia to review the Kimberley Process.
Namibia is hosting the three-day conference in Windhoek because it currently heads the scheme.
Participants in the Kimberley Process are forced to certify the origin of any diamond being traded.
This seeks to assure consumers that by purchasing diamonds they are not financing war and human rights abuses.
But late last year reports emerged in Zimbabwe of a military-led slaughter of up to 150 miners in the eastern Marange diamond fields.
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses in April banned the sale of diamonds from Marange, but Kimberley did not.
From Windhoek, Annie Dunnebacke, a spokeswoman for London-based Global Witness, told the BBC's Network Africa programme: "This is not something the Kimberley Process can stand by and accept from one of its participants."
She also said statistical anomalies were being reported by signatories.The Kimberley Process certification scheme, which aims to stop the use of diamonds to... more
Zimbabwe, a country beset by poverty, cholera and political violence, also possesses great mineral wealth, and lately there have been allegations of government involvement in the theft of mined diamonds and killings of local panners, CBC News has learned.
Under military control since late last year, the Marange diamond fields in Chiadzwa — potentially one of the richest diamond deposits in Africa — were seized by the government from a private mining company called African Consolidated Resources in 2006.
It is an alluvial field, meaning many of the stones just sit on the ground, ready to be scooped.
Tens of thousands of people — doctors, teachers, lawyers — impoverished by President Robert Mugabe's decades-long regime, had descended on the area, which lies near the border with Mozambique.
The fields are off limits to the media, but a CBC crew recently got in by joining the convoy of a local MP. They toured through the heavily guarded villages that surround the fields to meet with people who said they witnessed the killings, and their aftermath, first-hand last year.
Lovemore, a former telecom worker-turned diamond panner, said he saw soldiers shoot some of his fellow panners. "Yes, some were killed because of this diamond," he told the CBC's Adrienne Arsenault.
A cemetery worker near Chiadzwa showed Arsenault a mass grave that he said contained the bodies of 68 people who were allegedly slaughtered in that campaign. He produced dozens of burial orders filled in December — names unknown.
A local mortician also said he saw those bodies. "They were found in the field, beaten by soldiers, beaten by police," he said, adding he also observed gunshot wounds.
The Zimbabwe government vehemently denied the allegations.
"Only three people died as a result of infighting among the diamond panners, and the culprits have been arrested and they are actually going through our court of law now," said Obert Mpofu, the country's minister of mines.
He dismissed the idea of a mass grave. "It is totally fantasy. It is totally false. I don't know what people want to achieve by doing this."
The government also denied that military and other officials were benefiting directly from illegal panning in the fields.
"We are on top of the situation, and there is not even a single illegal diamond activity now because of the measures we are taking," Mpofu said.
However, a former military officer, who used to work in Chiadzwa, and was able to produce some industrial and gem-quality diamonds fresh from the fields with just a few hours notice, refuted that assertion.
"That's a lie.… It's only those with connections who are now able to dig and profit," he said. "It is the soldiers and police who are manning the area who allow you to go and dig, and when you dig, you show them what you have. Sometimes they take the diamonds and go sell them for their own profit."
His story was consistent with what other panners told the CBC.
The former officer also said that at night he had seen soldiers digging and then handing over their finds to powerful people.
"They come during the night, take the diamonds, and share them with senior government officials," he said.Zimbabwe, a country beset by poverty, cholera and political violence, also possesses... more
No more blood diamonds for Jamie Fox.
"Blood diamonds" or "conflict diamonds" are diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency. The 2006 film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio helped raise public awareness about this issue which plagues Africa. The movie depicts the conflict in Sierra Leone in the 1990s but recognizes an ongoing crisis in Africa, especially in Sierra Leone and Angola. The diamonds are sold to benefit the warlords and the diamond industry at the expense of thousands of lives. By purchasing these diamonds, you are feeding into this conflict.No more blood diamonds for Jamie Fox.
"Blood diamonds" or "conflict... more
4 years ago