Archive for January, 2010
by Admin on January 29th, 2010
Severe human rights violations, including murder, rape and forced labor, have taken place in the diamond fields of Marange, Zimbabwe. Recent reports from Human Rights Watch (HRW) indicate that these horrific conditions continue to take place.
Blood diamonds from Marange, Zimbabwe, have been issued Kimberley Process (KP) certificates and imported into the cutting centers, where they were cut and polished and then sold to dealers, jewelry manufacturers and retailers. Tens of thousands of carats of blood diamonds are now in dealers’ inventories and jewelers’ showcases — and are being actively sold to consumers.
The jewelry trade’s purchase and distribution of blood diamonds is funding a continuing cycle of horrific human rights violations. Our industry is providing money and distribution to those who murder, rape and enslave. Every time we buy or sell a blood diamond, we are sending a message of encouragement to the perpetrators of these inhuman crimes. We are legitimizing their dirty business. We become their partners in crime.
We must face the fact that the KP has been issuing certificates for Marange blood diamonds. The KP has made these “certified blood diamonds” perfectly legal. Customs officials did not — and do not — have the right to stop Marange diamonds with KP certificates. Instead of eliminating blood diamonds, the KP has become a process for the systematic legalization and legitimization of blood diamonds. When you get right down to it, the KP has become a blood diamond laundering system. The KP is not just a sham; it’s a scam.
To understand how this could happen, we must define “blood diamonds” and compare our definition to the KP definition of “conflict diamonds.
Rapaport definition:“Blood diamonds are diamonds involved in murder, mutilation, rape or forced servitude.”
KP definition:“Conflict diamonds means rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments, as described in relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions insofar as they remain in effect, or in other similar UNSC resolutions which may be adopted in the future, and as understood and recognised in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 55/56, or in other similar UNGA resolutions which may be adopted in future…”
The KP definition of conflict diamonds does not address human rights violations and does not include blood diamonds. It is a legal definition established by governments to limit the scope and authority of the KP. The KP is a highly politicized process controlled by governments for governments. Its primary function is to protect governments and their revenue — legitimate or not — from rebel forces and consumer boycotts. The KP is essentially agnostic when it comes to human rights. As HRW concluded in its November 6, 2009, report: “This diamond monitoring body has utterly lost credibility.”
In spite of the above, there is a common misconception in the jewelry trade that diamonds with KP certificates are free of human rights abuses. Trade organizations, under the misguided leadership of the World Diamond Council (WDC), have promoted and continue to promote the KP as an acceptable standard for ensuring human rights compliance, even though they know that the KP has been issuing certificates for blood diamonds that have penetrated the diamond and jewelry supply chain. The WDC refuses to inform the trade that the KP cannot be relied upon to ensure human rights compliance and that polished blood diamonds are in the supply chain. The WDC has lost its moral compass. Its primary loyalty is now to the KP and not to the diamond industry or even the basic principles of human decency.
What To Do?
• Raise Consciousness.
• Stay informed.
• Return diamonds that you suspect may be blood diamonds.
• Ask Before You Buy.
by Admin on January 29th, 2010
The World Diamond Council (WDC) renewed its call today for members of the industry to redouble their efforts to ensure that no diamonds from the Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe are traded until the Kimberley Process (KP) monitor is in place and actively controlling exports from the area.
The KP has developed, jointly with the government of Zimbabwe, a mechanism to ensure full compliance with KP requirements throughout Zimbabwe’s diamond production pipeline, including for diamonds from Marange, the one region in Zimbabwe where there were substantial indications of noncompliance.
“The WDC is committed to supporting this mechanism fully,” said Eli Izhakoff, WDC’s president. “All participants in the supply chain for diamonds are responsible to apply intensive due diligence to ensure that no diamonds from Marange are traded until the Kimberley Process monitor is in place and is controlling exports from that area.”
The WDC urgently reminded all industry members trading in diamonds —rough and polished, as well as in jewelry containing diamonds — to use the System of Warranties every time these products are sold. This system was designed to provide assurances through the entire supply chain and down to the consumer that they are not purchasing diamonds that have been traded in violation of any KP requirements.
Industry and consumer groups are again urged to visit www.diamondfacts.org to learn more about the System of Warranties, additional facts on the current situation in Zimbabwe and information about the good that diamonds do worldwide. Free, downloadable materials, designed for both the trade and consumers, explaining the System of Warranties and the KP are available there.
by Admin on January 21st, 2010
The World Diamond Council (WDC) announced Monday that it will call for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberly Process (KP) Certification Scheme unless a monitor is appointed soon.
The WDC stated that their need be a “credible, independent Monitor” to oversee mining operations and exports from the Marange diamond field. The WDC stated that the Zimbabwean government agreed to have a monitor as part of a Working Plan put in place by the KP in November intended to bring Zimbabwe into full compliance and end human rights abuses.
The Marange diamond fields have been the subject of much scrutiny as allegations of government-sanctioned mining and smuggling in the region have increased in recent years. In July, a KP review mission cited such allegations, in addition to widespread human rights abuses committed by the Zimbabwe military, who are there under the premise of protecting of the field from illegal mining.
Exports from the Marange region have been suspended since November and will not resume until a monitor is appointed and in place, the WDC stated.
by Admin on January 15th, 2010
Your chance is almost over to enter to win Whiteflash Green Love Giveaway! This holiday season Whiteflash is beginning an initiative to educate consumers about conflict diamonds and how to purchase socially conscious gifts for your loved ones this holiday. Whiteflash.com introduces “Green Love” this holiday season. As an online e-tailor we know that it is all about your peace of mind and your wallet. Right now if you order any Whiteflash conflict free diamond or enter on our sweepstakes page (no purchase necessary) during the period of November 29th to January 25th you will be automatically entered to win your choice of Mini Dreams of Africa pendant or Dreams of Africa ® earrings made with Whiteflash A Cut Above ® melee diamonds in your choice of white or yellow gold. Two lucky winners will be selected.
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Grand Prize. The Grand Prize is a Mini-Dreams of Africa® Diamond Pendant in 18 Carat Gold set with 20 Whiteflash A Cut Above ® Diamond Melee (0.30ctw; Color: F/G, Clarity: VS) . Approximate Retail Value (”ARV”) is $1,400.
First Prize. The First Prize is a pair of Dreams of Africa® Diamonds for Life Diamond Earrings in 18 Carat Gold set with 6 Whiteflash ACA Diamond Melee (0.15ctw). ARV is $300.
by Admin on January 15th, 2010
An 86.7-carat rough diamond worth an estimated $3.6 million has been seized at Frankfurt airport from an Angolan man arriving from Namibia, police said on Friday. The 38-year-old, who has not been named, told customs officials after being detained with a forged visa on Thursday that he intended to use the precious stone to buy cars in Portugal and that it was worth only $72,000.
But an examination concluded the diamond, around three centimetres (one inch) high and three centimetres wide, and for which the man could produce no documentation, was worth around EUR 2.5 million.
The man will not get the diamond back as he is accused of “a whole range of offences” including breaching international rules stopping the trade in “blood diamonds,” from conflict areas, customs spokesman Hans-Juergen Schmidt said.
He also faces charges of smuggling and of withholding around $718,000 in import taxes, and was due to go before an investigating judge later on Friday, Schmidt told AFP. “The diamond will most likely be confiscated and go to the German state,” Schmidt said. “He will not be a free man whatever happens. The judge will either remand him in custody or he will be deported to Angola.”
by Admin on January 15th, 2010
British top model Naomi Campbell may have to appear as a witness in the trial against Charles Taylor after allegations surfaced that had given her a so-called blood diamond in 1997.
Taylor, the former president of Liberia, is standing trial at the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague. A SCSL spokesperson could not confirm whether Campbell would in fact be heard as a witness, but confirmed the prosecution had been in touch with her.
Taylor is charged with having orchestrated war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 11-year civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone that started in 1991 and claimed an estimated 120,000 lives.
“That diamond that you sent to Naomi Campbell,” prosecutor Brenda Hollis asked Taylor during a cross-examination Thursday, “was one of the diamonds that you had been given by the junta in Sierra Leone. Isn’t that correct?”
Taylor’s response was to call the allegations “total nonsense.” Hollis said Taylor had given the diamond to Campbell after a dinner in South Africa in 1997 also attended by South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela, musician Quincy Jones, and actress Mia Farrow.
The diamond was allegedly one of several gems that rebels from Sierra Leone gave to Taylor so that he could purchase arms for them in South Africa.
Taylor is alleged to have backed and armed the rebel forces in Sierra Leone to gain control of the country’s diamond mines. He is the first former African leader and the second former head of state, after the former Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic, to be tried by an international war crimes court. He denies all charges.
The SCSL, set up jointly by Sierra Leone and the UN, is mandated to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for serious violations law in the country since November 30, 1996.
Taylor’s trial was moved from Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown to the Netherlands for security reasons. The trial of the former Liberian president is taking place at the ICC premises.
by Admin on January 15th, 2010
A planned auction of more than 300,000 carats of rough diamonds scheduled for last Thursday has been cancelled last minute by the government of Zimbabwe, according to a report on a government web site. The goods were apparently not certified by the Kimberley Process.
In its cancellation notice, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary Thankful Musukutwa said that Mbada Diamonds Mining, which holds a license to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa, had not followed diamond sales procedures.
According to Musukutwa, the auction will take place after the diamonds are examined and get KP certification.
“The government of Zimbabwe and the KPCS [Kimberley Process Certification Scheme] are currently in the process of engaging that KP monitor and as such no export [of diamonds] will take place prior to certification by the KP monitor,” said Thankful Musukutwa.
The decision to appoint a KP monitor came as a compromise at a KP meeting in November after international pressure to ban Zimbabwe from the certification system. The demand was raised after reports in 2008 of a military crackdown on illegal miners in the region resulted in 200 deaths as well as involvement of government officials in smuggling diamonds out of the country.
The Kimberley Process, formed to battle financing rabble activities by selling diamonds, decided on the appointment of the monitor. Zimbabwe is yet to approve the KP’s candidate. Until a monitor is in place, Zimbabwe can not export diamonds from Chiadzwa or the Marange region.
“The government of Zimbabwe observes and is committed to the administrative decision of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme,” said Musukutwa.
Last week’s auction was planned to be the first of two such selling opportunities, with the second auction to be held this week, according to Mbada chairman Robert Mhlanga.
The Zimbabwean government is to reportedly receive the bulk of the proceeds - a 50 percent dividend as a partner of Mbada, a 10 percent royalty fee, a 15 percent tax and a five percent resource depletion fee.
by Admin on January 11th, 2010
Intense infighting within Zanu PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) over control of the Marange diamonds stalled the planned sale of diamonds on Thursday and is frustrating proper mining operations of the precious mineral, sources told The Standard.
This was compounded by the fact that Mbada Diamonds, a joint operation between government and Grandwell Holdings of South Africa, failed to meet conditions stipulated by the Kimberley Process Certification before the planned sale. The sources said the battle for control of the Marange diamonds pits factions aligned to retired army general Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa, the minister of defence.
The two camps are already embroiled in a bitter decade-long battle to succeed ageing President Robert Mugabe, 85, as leader of the party and the country. This past week Mbada Diamonds announced the proposed auction of the first 300,000 carats of the precious Marange diamond but this flopped spectacularly after it turned out proper procedures had not been followed.
Although government, which is also a shareholder in Mbada, had been informed about the auction, secretary for mines and mining development Thankful Musukutwa said the auction had been stopped until the correct laid-down process was followed.
He said Mbada should have involved the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, ZRP Minerals Unit and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development in the process. But announcing the diamond auction on Wednesday, Mbada chairman Robert Mhlanga claimed government was involved in the whole process. “The entire process from mining, transportation to marketing is being done in compliance to the requirements of the Kimberley Process,” he said.
“The sales and marketing offices are jointly manned and controlled by teams from both government and Mbada Diamonds,” he said.
Mhlanga, a former air vice-marshal, has close links with Mugabe. He was one of the first black pilots to fly Zimbabwe’s only ruler since Independence.
Sources said the auction was stopped after officials from the faction aligned to Mujuru took advantage of the failure by Mbada to follow laid down procedures. The Mujuru faction, said one of the sources, wants to wrest control of the Marange diamonds from the faction aligned to Mnangagwa whose key figures are associated with the companies mining in the controversial area. Mnangagwa is acting Minister of Mines.
The Mujuru faction, said another source, is also querying how Mbada - a company hurriedly registered late in 2008 - got the tender to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa ahead of already “existing and reputable” mining firms. The source said Mnangagwa’s faction is said to be sympathetic to Mbada’s mission to ensure proper mining operations at Chiadzwa, where diamonds worth millions of dollars were looted by senior politicians before ordinary Zimbabweans invaded the area.
Mhlanga dismissed allegations that he was aligned to any politician saying: “I am not aligned to politicians, MDC [Movement For Democratic Change], Zanu PF or Mavambo. I am my own man.”
He said it was time the diamonds benefited the country and the people of Marange instead of politicians. However, sources said, some politicians loyal to the Mujuru faction - who had been in control of mining operations at Chiadzwa before the normalisation of mining in the area– were determined to derail the project.
“It is the fight for political control of Zanu PF that has spilled over to the control of the diamonds,” said one of the sources. “Each faction knows that the diamonds are the country’s lifeblood so they both want to control the precious stones.
“Mbada officials made the mistake of not going by the book and their adversaries took advantage of that to throw spanners in the works.”
A Mbada official last week said their controversial reallocation of the mining claims owned by a British company, African Consolidated Resources (ACR) had saved the situation as politicians were plundering the resources.
This is not the first time that Mbada has been stopped in its tracks.
In December, the Environment Management Authority (EMA) ordered the company to stop mining operations saying Mbada had contravened the Environmental Management Act [ 20:27].
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu declined to comment saying: “I am on leave.”
Efforts to get comments from Mujuru, Mnangagwa and the Deputy Minister of Mines Murisi Zwizwai were unsuccessful yesterday.
As the fight for the control of diamond rages on, ACR has warned international diamond traders against buying germs from the Marange diamond field, saying they were “stolen.” ACR holds right of title to claims on the Marange diamond field that was seized by the government in October 2006 and reallocated to ZMDC.
“Those are our diamonds. Anyone buying them must know that they are trading in stolen diamonds. We are placing an advert in the press to that effect,” ACR lawyer Jonathan Samkange said after Mbada announced it would be auctioning the first 300,000 carats of Marange diamonds.
The government also seized considerable quantities of diamonds from ACR but was ordered by the High Court to return the diamonds to the British company in September. The court also upheld ACR’s right of title to Marange - in a judgment government is contesting.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has demanded the immediate establishment of an independent investigating committee that would report to Parliament to undertake an audit of the firms currently mining at Chiadzwa. ZLHR said Zimbabwe has not met the standards set up by the Kimberley Process for it to start mining the diamonds.
by Admin on January 11th, 2010
When Zimbabwe’s secretary for mines, Musukutwa, canceled a diamond auction getting underway in Harare, The Global Witness welcomed that decision. But the non-governmental organization warned the diamond industry that Zimbabwe must take concrete steps to demonstrate their commitment to cleaning up the diamond sector there or risk suspension from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS).
“If the sale had gone ahead, Zimbabwe would very likely have been in breach of an action plan agreed at the Kimberley Process plenary in November last year,” according to a statement issued by Global Witness. It was determined that Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields, where the diamonds to be auctioned were mined, were out of compliance with the Kimberley Process’s minimum standards.
Annie Dunnebacke, diamond campaigner at Global Witness, said: “If rough diamonds from Marange had been exported from Zimbabwe without prior inspection by a Kimberley Process monitor, then Zimbabwe would have been in clear violation of the action plan they agreed to at the plenary session in November.”
Dunnebacke added that Global Witness was “disappointed” that the Zimbabwe did not communicate the auction plans to the Kimberley Process. “We are deeply concerned at Zimbabwe’s complete lack of engagement with the Kimberley Process since last year’s plenary session. Their silence jeopardizes the success of the action plan and the viability of a clean future for the Zimbabwean diamond industry.”
It is imperative that Zimbabwe works more closely with the Kimberley Process and demonstrates its willingness to implement meaningful reforms in the diamond sector. If it fails to do so, the Kimberley Process must be ready to take swift and decisive action to suspend Zimbabwe and protect the credibility of the scheme, according to the group.
by Admin on January 11th, 2010
Zimbabwe’s secretary for Mines and Mining Development, Musukutwa, halted a diamond auction on 1/07/2010 in Harare because the proper procedures had not been followed to sell the rough stones, according to government-run newspaper The Herald. Mbada Diamonds, a joint venture between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Grandwell Holdings, announced that it would be auctioning 300,000 carats at its new facility at Harare International Airport and that buyers from the U.S., Europe and Asia had already arrived to buy the stones. But just as the auction was getting underway, news surfaced that neither the Kimberley Process (KP) nor Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) had been made aware of the auction.
The Herald quoted Musukutwa as saying, “The due process for selling diamonds produced in Zimbabwe involves the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, ZRP Minerals Unit and Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, where diamonds from Marange are concerned. In the case of Mbada Diamonds, this process is yet to happen. The government of Zimbabwe observes and is committed to the administrative decision of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme [KPCS] adopted at Swakopmund, Namibia during the November 2009 plenary meeting,” he said.
He added that rough diamond sales and exports could not be transacted by Mbada Diamonds until all government regulations and KP requirements had been fulfilled.
According to The Herald, Mbada Diamonds reiterated that it was ready to sell about 600,000 carats from the Chiadzwa diamond fields and had intended to offer these stones in two separate auctions. The newspaper stated that the company was complying with government terms and that the diamond certification process had begun while company representatives awaited the arrival of a KP monitor.