Advocacy groups suggest Zimbabwe diamonds classified as ‘conflict diamonds’ due to use of private security agencies to displace locals to pave way for mining

Author: New Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe) , Published on: 24 June 2019

‘Zim diamonds under spotlight’ 19 June 2019

Zimbabwean diamonds could be classified as “conflict diamonds” and barred from world markets, if rights groups meeting here have their way. At the Kimberley Process (KP) reform meetings currently underway in Mumbai, India, the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCSC), a coalition of rights groups involved in the diamond industry, are lobbying for a new definition of conflict diamonds that could restrict market access for Zimbabwean gems if applied.

The new definition would include reference to “public security forces or private (including criminal or mercenary) armed groups”, as well as to “systemic and
widespread violence, forced labour, the worst forms of child labour and violations of international humanitarian law”. The KPCSC cites Angola and Zimbabwe as examples of countries where both State security forces and private security have “committed atrocities to clear land for large scale mining”. Cases of shootings by “private security actors also remain an issue in a number of producer States”, according to the grouping.

Consumers are becoming more sensitive to the origin of the diamonds used in the jewellery they buy, the activists say. “In this information age, it’s increasingly difficult to ignore links between diamonds and ethics issues like violence,” says Shamiso Mtisi, KPCSC member and head of the Zimbabwean Environmental Lawyers Association. “The only way to counter these negative associations is to stop them from happening.”...In 2018, KPCSC said, “We find it extremely difficult to classify Zimbabwe’s Marange diamonds as conflict free” due to the security measures in the area. Earlier this year, CNRG appealed to the UN to classify Zimbabwean stones as “blood diamonds”. The activists plan to lobby for Zimbabwean diamonds to be banned
at a UN meeting this September.

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