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Global Witness welcomes EU decision to maintain sanctions against Zimbabwean diamond sector

18th February 2013

Global Witness today welcomed news that EU foreign ministers have agreed to maintain restrictive measures against state-owned Zimbabwean diamond mining company, ZMDC, but warned that gaps in the sanctions list could mean Mugabe’s forces still receive off-budget revenues from diamond sales.

The London-based campaigning group last year published detailed evidence indicating that revenues from joint-venture diamond mining companies, of which ZMDC is the Zimbabwean partner, are providing off-budget financing to ZANU-PF controlled security forces with a history of committing electoral violence.

“It’s good news that sanctions against ZMDC will be maintained,” said Global Witness diamonds campaigner, Emily Armistead. “Global Witness’ investigations point to a serious risk that diamond revenues could be used to fund violence in this year’s election. Maintaining sanctions against ZMDC will limit that flow of cash. However, the EU could have gone further to prevent diamond revenues funding ZANU-PF security forces. In particular, we are concerned that Zimbabwe’s largest diamond company, Anjin, is part-owned by the military but is not covered by restrictive measures.”

Negotiations over the sanctions were rumoured to have been especially heated with Belgium leading the call for measures against the ZMDC to be dropped. Last week Global Witness accused Belgium of favouring the interests of its diamond traders over Zimbabwean democracy.

Global Witness’ research has revealed links between joint-venture diamond mining companies in the Marange region of Zimbabwe and military, police and intelligence organisations loyal to Mugabe. When elections last took place in 2008, these same groups were involved in attacks against the opposition, reportedly killing over 200 people and torturing thousands.

The decision by ministers to maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe’s diamond mining sector sends a clear signal to European diamond trading companies that they must source diamonds responsibly. However, weak industry self-regulation all along the diamond pipeline means that Marange diamonds may still find their way onto European markets.

“European diamond companies must carry out checks on their supply chains to make sure their purchases are not fuelling risks of human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Member states should enforce the restrictive measures and ensure they are applied to polished diamonds entering the EU,” continued Armistead.

ENDS/

Contact: Emily Armistead on +44 207 492 5888; +44 7885 969 480; earmistead@globalwitness.org or Annie Dunnebacke on +44 207 492 5897; +44 7912 517 127; adunnebacke@globalwitness.org.

Notes to editors:

  1. Restrictive measures against Zimbabwean individuals and companies have been in place since 2002 and are reviewed annually.
  1. Global Witness’ investigations indicate that ZMDC, joint venture company Anjin, and businessman Sam Pa are involved in off-budget financing of military, police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), a secret police force loyal to ZANU-PF. For more information on Global Witness’ research into these links, see http://www.globalwitness.org/library/update-following-financing-parallel-government-report and http://www.globalwitness.org/library/zimbabwes-diamond-sector-and-eu-restrictive-measures
  1. The Kimberley Process is a government-to-government certification scheme for rough diamonds set up in 2003 to prevent diamonds from fuelling conflict and human rights violations. Global Witness withdrew from the Kimberley Process (KP) in 2011. A key reason for leaving the process, which defines conflict diamonds as those used to fund rebel groups, was its failure to address problems in Zimbabwe’s diamond sector. In 2012 the KP gave a green light to all exports from diamond mining operations in Zimbabwe, despite concerns raised by Global Witness and other civil society organisations.