Zimbabwe's blood diamonds not key to economic recovery

Suspending Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process is Essential

August 3, 2009

Five months after the release, in March 2009, of Partnership Africa Canada’s report on the horrors behind Zimbabwe’s diamond trade, Zimbabwe, Diamonds and the Wrong Side of History, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) welcomes the recommendation from the Kimberley Process (KP) Zimbabwe Review Mission team to suspend Zimbabwe from the KP, the world diamond regulatory body.

The recently publicized report of the Mission team confirmed the findings of PAC’s report, including massive diamond smuggling and the murder of scores of artisanal diamond miners by the Zimbabwe military in October 2008 to gain control of the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe. Revenues from Zimbabwe’s diamonds are helping to prop up Robert Mugabe’s repressive and violent regime and the military seem bent on keeping control of the Marange diamonds for their own personal needs, regardless of the needs of the local population.

PAC believes that diamonds will not be the linchpin of any economic revival in Zimbabwe. “Total diamond exports from Zimbabwe for the whole of 2008 were a mere US$33 million, and therefore the necessary embargo by the KP on Zimbabwe’s diamonds will not undermine any future economic recovery,” says Bernard Taylor, Executive Director of Partnership Africa Canada. “Arguments to the contrary by Zimbabwe’s political leaders that diamonds are key to Zimbabwe’s economic revival, are based on deliberately inflated diamond production levels and are simply smoke and mirrors,” he says.

PAC has been calling for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process since December 2008, following the first reports of human right abuses, together with other indications that Zimbabwe had lost control of its diamond industry. “Without aiming to harm the country, suspension is one of the only tools the Kimberley Process has to encourage member countries to undertake the necessary reforms to meet the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme minimum requirements and thereby rejoin the world diamond regulatory body,” argues Susanne Emond, of Partnership Africa Canada.

PAC also repeats its call for the Kimberley Process to develop a clear and actionable protocol on gross human rights abuse in the management of a member’s diamond industry. “The onus is on the members of the Kimberley Process to take vigorous action to prevent tainted diamonds from entering the world’s clean diamond stream,” says PAC’s Bernard Taylor. “Zimbabwe is the test for the Kimberley Process to show the world it cares about human rights and is working to keep consumer confidence in the purity of diamonds.”

– 30 –

For further information, please contact:
Bernard Taylor: +1-613-237-6768 ext 3 (English and French)
Susanne Emond: +1-613-237-6768 ext 4 (English and French)

Note:
The Kimberley Process (KP) is a government-led rough diamond certification scheme created to halt and prevent the trade in conflict diamonds that led to the death and displacement of millions of people in Angola, Sierra Leone, DRC, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. Member states are required to pass national legislation and set up an import/export control system to implement the KP. Over 75 of the world’s diamond producing, trading and manufacturing countries participate in the scheme.

Partnership Africa Canada is a Canadian non-governmental organization that has been involved in efforts to halt the trade in conflict diamonds since 1999. Our reports on conflict diamonds can be found at www.pacweb.org