Call For Restrictions On Zimbabwe’s Diamonds

robert-mugabe

Human rights groups are calling for Zimbabwe’s access to the diamond trade to be restricted following reports of brutality by government militia. Due to their value and crucial place in the export of natural resources, mining of diamonds is particularly open to abuse by interested parties.

As a result of such issues coming to light around the world, there is a growing market for conflict-free diamonds – stones which have not been mined in countries where there is unrest that affects the trade. In a recent case, soldiers are said to have killed around 200 people and injured many others at a diamond field in Zimbabwe. Prospectors used to use the Marange diamond fields to find and sell precious stones on the black market.

However, in recent months troops have taken control of the area in order to fund the ruling Zanu-PF party’s activities. On one occasion, helicopters were allegedly used to fire tear gas at workers and shots were fired at them. Local residents are said to be forced to work for the government, collecting diamonds. The government denies the allegations. Some analysts argue that excluding Zimbabwe from the international diamond trade will not help, since diamonds would inevitably be smuggled out of the fields and would still find their way onto the international markets.

Rights groups have nevertheless demanded that the Kimberley Process (the group that regulates the trade of rough diamonds) stop all diamond exports from the country. The body was set up in 2003 with the aim of ensuring that consumers were not purchasing stones that are linked to war or abuses of human rights.

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