Embargoed to October 28, 2008
LOUPE HOLES IN THE KIMBERLEY PROCESS
Gateway for Conflict Diamonds
As the Kimberley Process (KP) rough diamond certification scheme's fifth year draws to a close, the trafficking of conflict and illicit stones looks more like a dangerous rule than an exception. In a report released today, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada warn that the illicit trade in rough diamonds is one of the greatest threats facing the Kimberley Process.
"Conflict diamonds from Côte d'Ivoire are still being mined, smuggled into legitimate markets and sold to consumers on the high street, despite UN sanctions," said Annie Dunnebacke, Campaigner at Global Witness. "The Kimberley Process' failure to address this problem in five years of existence is a serious indictment of the scheme's effectiveness."
The report's case studies highlight how the illicit trade in rough diamonds is getting worse. In Venezuela, rampant diamond smuggling continues while the government blatantly flouts the certification scheme. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono recently stated that over 10,000 people were visiting the border town of Mutare every month for illegal diamond mining and trading. These diamonds are then smuggled out of the country and into international trading and manufacturing centres.
"The Kimberley Process completely ignores the diamond cutting and polishing industry," said Bernard Taylor, Executive Director of PAC. "There, rough diamonds can bypass all of the KP checks. The Kimberley Process has to close this obvious loophole in the system."
Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada are calling upon India, as current chair of the Kimberley Process, and all participants to consider the following recommendations at the upcoming Plenary meeting in New Delhi.
The Kimberley Process should:
- Take swift action when faced with cases of non-compliance and agree an interim suspension mechanism with clear criteria;
- Require of its participants stronger government oversight of the diamond industry, including regular stock audits of companies;
- Require the cutting and polishing sector to adhere to KP minimum standards;
- Require participants to improve internal controls and increase collaboration and enforcement efforts to combat rough diamond smuggling;
- Develop a research and monitoring capacity to address illicit flows of rough diamonds.
Note to editor:
The Kimberley Process (KP) is a government-led rough diamond certification created to halt and prevent the trade in conflict diamonds that led to the death and displacement of millions of people in Angola, Sierra Leone, DRC, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. Member states are required to pass national legislation and set up an import/export control system to implement the KP. Over 75 of the world's diamond producing, trading and manufacturing countries participate in the scheme.
For more information please contact:
Annie Dunnebacke, Global Witness (London)
Tel: +44 207 561 6397
Mob: +44 7703 108 401
Bernard Taylor, Partnership Africa Canada (Ottawa)
Tel: +1 613 237 6768