Controls for illicit diamond trade failing
Human rights and civil society groups say an international scheme established in 2003 to prevent the trade in so-called conflict diamonds is potentially failing to meet its objectives.
The groups said the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme has not effectively addressed issues of non-compliance, smuggling, money laundering and human rights abuses in the world's diamond fields. Conflict or 'blood' diamonds are exported by certain governments to fuel their military machines.
'In Zimbabwe there is clear evidence of government-led human rights abuse in diamond mining areas, as well as smuggling and weak internal controls,' the groups said.
They noted that Lebanon has exported significantly more gem-quality diamonds than it imports, and in the past two years there has been a 500 percent increase in diamond exports from Guinea.
Venezuela agreed in 2008 that it would suspend its diamond trade until new control systems could be established. However, a civil society investigative visit to Venezuela in May found that diamonds are still being mined and smuggled into the world's legitimate trade with impunity.
'The clock is running out on Kimberley Process credibility,' said Annie Dunnebacke of Global Witness, in a statement. 'The work it was set up to do is vital — it would be scandalous if uncooperative governments and industry succeeded in hobbling it into ineffectiveness.' ' Chris Gillis