Amnesty International UK & Global Witness
STRICTLY EMBARGOED: MONDAY 22 JANUARY, 00:01 HRS GMT
BLOOD DIAMONDS: NEW CALL ON DIAMOND INDUSTRY TO CLEAN UP DIAMOND TRADE
Call made as blockbuster film Blood Diamond premieres in UK
[New website launched; photos available; experts available for interview]
Human rights organisations Amnesty International and Global Witness have today (22 January) called on the diamond industry to make good on its promises to clean up the international diamond trade and ensure that consumers can be sure the gems they buy are not blood diamonds.
The call comes as the film Blood Diamond opens in cinemas all over the UK later this week (1). Amnesty International and Global Witness have launched a new website www.blooddiamondaction.org with information consumers can use to try and ensure any diamond jewellery they buy is conflict-free.
Blood diamonds are gems that have been used by rebel groups to fund armed conflict and civil war. The new blockbuster draws attention to the devastating impact the trade in blood diamonds has had in countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where billions of dollars of profits from the sale of diamonds have been used to fuel brutal wars. Diamonds mined in the rebel-held North of Côte d'Ivoire, in West Africa, are currently reaching the international diamond market and there are credible reports of massive diamond smuggling from Zimbabwe into South Africa and Belgium in violation of the Kimberley Process.
Alex Yearsley of Global Witness said:
"Despite the tragedies that blood diamonds have caused, neither governments nor the diamond industry is doing enough to stop them. Consumers have the power to effect industry-wide changes simply by demanding that their diamonds are clean."
Amnesty International and Global Witness recommend that consumers ask jewellery retailers the following questions when purchasing diamonds:
* Do you know where your diamonds come from?
* Can I see a copy of your company's policy on conflict diamonds?
* Can you show me a written guarantee from your diamond suppliers that states your diamonds are conflict-free?
* How can I be sure that none of your jewellery contains conflict diamonds?
To ensure that the diamond industry is living up to the necessary standards, Amnesty International and Global Witness are updating their 2004 survey of the top diamond jewellery retailers in the US and the UK, which pointed to the industry's failure to adequately implement a system of self-regulation. The new survey will include the top 50 diamond retailers in the UK to ensure that the industry has addressed the gaps uncovered in their 2004 survey. Global Witness and Amnesty International are calling on the industry to strengthen its system of self-regulation and put in place an independent verification system by Valentine's Day 2007.
Amnesty International UK Diamonds Campaigner Nick Dearden said:
"Outrage across the world led to the first attempts to try and clean up this trade. People buying gifts for their loved ones do not want them associated with the suffering of others. It will be consumer demand again that forces the industry to clean up."
Amnesty International and Global Witness will host a special pre-screening of Blood Diamond in a London cinema on Monday 22 January. More information is available on the numbers below.
Amnesty International: Sarah Green, 020 7033 1549; 07721 398 984
Global Witness: Annie Dunnebacke, 0207 561 6397; 07703 108 401
Notes to editor:
1. Blood Diamond is set against the background of the Sierra Leone civil war in the 1990s. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly, and is directed by Edward Zwick. It premieres in the UK on Tuesday 23 January and opens for general release on Friday 26 January.