Kimberley Process should suspend Zimbabwe, says human rights organisation

7th August 2009 By: Chanel de Bruyn - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) should suspend Zimbabwe immediately, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has recommended, saying that the Southern African country has failed to remove its armed forces from the Marange diamond fields and end human rights abuses there.

“Not only has Zimbabwe refused to move the military out of Marange, but it has rotated new units in. The human rights abuses and smuggling are continuing, and witnesses to earlier abuses are being harassed and threatened,” HRW Africa director Georgette Gagnon said in a statement posted on the organisation’s website.

Reported human rights abuses in the Marange diamond fields has, since the beginning of the year, prompted many organisations, including the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the European Union, to urge the KPCS to probe or ban the country’s diamond trade.

The KPCS, which aims to stop the trade in conflict diamonds, had visited the diamond fields in June and reportedly found Zimbabwe to be in violation of KPCS standards, according to the HRW.

It added that the Kimberley Process review team had presented an interim report on the matter to the Zimbabwean government in July, but that the report had not yet been made public.

“The Kimberley Process took an important first step in condemning government conduct in Marange. Faced with evidence that Zimbabwe is ignoring its concerns, it should publish the review mission report. Then, it should take the next logical step, and suspend Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is clearly not going to take the necessary corrective actions on its own,” said Gagnon in the statement.