Kimberley team presents damning report on Zimbabwe diamonds

ZIMBABWE – HARARE – The Kimberley Process review team has completed its probe into Zimbabwe’s blood diamonds and presented its provisional report, pointing out that lack of security had led to illegal digging and processing activities.

The Kimberley team recommended immediate demilitarisation of the Chiadzwa diamond field.

“There cannot be effective security where diamonds are concerned with the involvement of the military,” said the report, adding stricter border controls to prevent diamond smuggling and better control from place of production to point of export was absolutely important. A final report will follow later.

There were accusations in some press reports that there was an army “clean up” of the diamond fields before the inspection by the Kimberley Process team.

An team of inspectors from an anti-”blood diamonds” body was wrapping up a visit to Zimbabwe Friday, where they have been investigating allegations of gross rights abuses in diamond mining.
The United Nations-founded Kimberley Process (KP) is a body that monitors international trade in diamonds with a view to barring so- called conflict or blood diamonds – gems that are used to bankroll conflicts.

KP inspectors arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday for a review visit following a first fact-finding mission to the controversial eastern Marange diamond fields in March.

They were due to leave the country Saturday. Zimbabwe’s police and military are accused of gross human rights abuses in the Marange area since 2006, including killing and injuring dozens of illegal diamond-diggers and forcing villagers to work for them.

In a recent report, New York-based Human Rights Watch alleged the security forces, who are loyal to President Robert Mugabe, had killed over 200 people in a three-week crackdown on illegal mining last year and ordered some of the bodies to be buried in mass graves.

The area is still under control of the military, whose members are lining their pockets with the gems, according to HRW.

While admitting members of the military are enriching themselves, Zimbabwe’s government says they carried out “no killings.”

HRW is calling for the definition of conflict diamonds to be expanded to include diamonds mined in conditions of gross rights violations.

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