RAPAPORT… In the run-up to an important meeting of the Kimberley Process to be held in Namibia, which is halfway through its yearlong chairmanship of the certification scheme, Global Witness today called upon its leaders to plug the leaks in the system or risk what credibility the Kimberley Process still possesses. Despite having all the tools in place, the certification scheme continues to fail to address “issues of noncompliance, smuggling, money laundering and human rights abuses” in alluvial diamond fields. Global Witness and other civil society groups listed a number of charges they demand be addressed at the upcoming meeting.
There is clear evidence of human rights abuse in diamond mining areas of Zimbabwe, as well as diamond smuggling and weak internal controls, the groups stated. Lebanon, meanwhile, is exporting more gem-quality rough than it imports, and for the past two years, rough exports from Guinea have increased by 500 percent, but mining has not. “A Kimberley Process review team visited Guinea in August 2008, but a year later its report has still not been completed, suggesting critical problems in the monitoring system,” the groups wrote. Finally, while Venezuela has agreed to suspend its diamond trade until new control systems are put into place, it was found that in May 2009 diamonds were still being mined, smuggled out of the country and mixed into the world’s legitimate trade.
Annie Dunnebacke, of Global Witness, said, “The clock is running out on Kimberley Process credibility. The work it was set up to do is vital — it would be scandalous if uncooperative governments and industry succeeded in hobbling it into ineffectiveness.”
The groups, led by Global Witness, propose that the following sentence be added to the preamble of the main Kimberley Process document: “The Kimberley Process shall promote respect for human rights as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and shall require their effective recognition and observance in the diamond industries of participating countries, and among the peoples, institutions and territories under their jurisdiction.”
As for monitoring, the groups called upon the Kimberley Process to “significantly improve” this function, stating that it must provide clear direction in cases where problems are identified, as they have been in Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Guinea and Lebanon. The process has also, they maintained, ignored a significant loophole in its control procedures. The Kimberley Process therefore must ensure, the groups demanded, that statistics regarding the purchase, use and sale of rough diamonds by cutting and polishing centers are incorporated into its internal control mechanism and reconciled in such a way that rough diamonds do not bypass other internal control measures.
Alfred Brownell, of Green Advocates of Liberia, added, “Namibia was a founding member of the Kimberley Process, and as current chair of the scheme should be a leader in ensuring an effective and efficient diamond certification system. The Kimberley Process must be a force for development in Africa’s diamond-rich nations and take a clear stand against human rights abuses.”
Susanne Emond from Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) said, “The Kimberley Process must fulfill its potential to ensure a clean diamond trade. We are calling on the diamond industry to join with us in demanding that governments enforce the scheme’s rules with greater commitment and timeliness.”