Diamond controls in many countries are seriously flawed. But controls alone will probably never work unless diamond digging in some African countries pays more than a dollar a day. These are messages contained in two reports released today, prepared jointly by Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, NGOs closely involved in the creation of the Kimberley Process diamond certification system.
Leaders of the world’s diamond industry and representatives of more than 40 countries will gather in Ottawa on Oct. 27 for a three day meeting to discuss progress in implementing the worldwide diamond control scheme which aims to stop the phenomenon of conflict or “blood” diamonds. “The Key to Kimberley: Internal Diamond Controls” examines the implementation of new control systems in Belgium, Britain, the United States, Canada, Angola, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The report recognizes the strengths of the Belgian system if implemented fully but is critical of US, British and Canadian regulations because of weak or non-existent government audits of companies dealing with diamonds. The report is much more critical of controls in the Congo and Angola, however. The report recommends much tougher oversight if illicit diamonds are to be excluded from the legitimate diamond trade.
“Governmental controls at the point of export in these countries are in place, but there are almost no controls one or two transactions back into the system,” Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness said.
A second report, “Rich Man, Poor Man – Development Diamonds and Poverty Diamonds” reports on months of research in the diamond fields of Sierra Leone, Angola and the Congo. There, alluvial diamonds represent the primary source of income for more than one million freelance diggers and their families. On average, however, they earn only a dollar a day. Working conditions are unhealthy and dangerous; cheating, theft and smuggling are rampant.
“Until Africa’s diamond diggers earn a fair wage, diamonds will always be a destabilizing factor in these countries,” said Ian Smillie from Partnership Africa Canada.
The report says that controls alone are not enough and calls on the diamond industry and the world’s development organizations, including the World Bank and the United Nations, to find ways to generate better prices for a commodity which represents one of the most concentrated forms of wealth on the earth.
To see a copy of these reports, embargoed until 0001 GMT 25 October 2004, please visit our websites: www.globalwitness.org and www.pacweb.org
For further information, please call:
+44 7968 799 815
Partnership Africa Canada
Dorothée Gizenga Ngolo
Press Release / Oct. 22, 2004