Press Release / Nov. 16, 2010

Industry must refuse Zimbabwe diamonds certified by rogue monitor

The World Diamond Council and other diamond industry bodies must immediately issue clear public statements instructing their members not to purchase improperly certified diamonds from Zimbabwe’s contentious Marange diamond fields, said Global Witness today.

Exports from Marange are subject to restrictions imposed by the Kimberley Process (KP) rough diamond certification scheme, because of concerns regarding human rights abuses and military involvement in diamond mining and smuggling in the region. Last week a controversial KP-mandated monitor, Abbey Chikane, is reported to have returned to Zimbabwe to certify Marange diamonds in preparation for sale and export, despite the fact that he received no authorisation from the Kimberley Process to do this.

“Diamond industry bodies must show leadership by instructing their members to refuse purchase of these diamonds which appear to have been certified by a discredited monitor who has gone beyond his mandate,” said Global Witness director Charmian Gooch. “The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council in India and the UAE’s Dubai Multi Commodities Centre should be especially vigilant, since these countries have been the main destinations for previous exports from Marange.”

Abbey Chikane’s reported visit to Zimbabwe follows the Kimberley Process’s failure earlier this month to reach an agreement authorising future diamond exports from Marange. Global Witness is calling on all parties in the KP to ensure a credible deal that benchmarks future diamond exports with verified progress by the Zimbabwean government in meeting the commitments it has already made. The most important of these include full demilitarisation of the diamond trade, tackling systematic smuggling and ensuring respect for civil society monitoring in Marange.

Gooch said: “This is a crucial test of the diamond industry’s system of self-regulation – disputed diamonds from Marange pose a real threat to the integrity of the diamond supply chain. By refusing to buy these stones, the industry can reinforce the strength and credibility of the Kimberley Process, and chart a path to a satisfactory agreement on Marange diamonds.”

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Contact: Annie Dunnebacke on +44 7912 517 127 or Elly Harrowell on +44 7703 108 401

Note to editors:

The Kimberley Process is a rough diamond certification scheme, established in 2003. It brings together governments, industry and civil society, and aims to eradicate the trade in conflict diamonds. Member states are required to pass national legislation and set up a control system for the import and export of rough diamonds. Over 75 of the world's diamond producing, trading and manufacturing countries participate in the scheme.