PAC Attacks KP, Says Zimbabwe Commits Diamond AtrocitiesFebruary 19, 09
“The government of Zimbabwe, no stranger to violence, has killed dozens of artisanal alluvial miners in order to clear them from the country’s diamond fields,” NGO Partnership Africa Canada writes in the opening of a critical review of Zimbabwe. PAC further criticizes the Kimberley Process, which supported by a number of countries, is turning a blind eye to the human toll.
PAC was referring to reports from the past three months that detailed violent attacks by the army of Zimbabwe against illegal diamonds miners in Chiadzwa that ended in some 50 deaths.
Other reports speak of large volumes of Zimbabwe diamonds being smuggled to other countries in contravention of the KPCS. Two smugglers arrested in India in 2008 were said to be carrying more than $600,000 worth of Zimbabwe diamonds. A woman recently arrested in Dubai with smuggled diamonds was a Zimbabwean citizen. Evidence mounts that Zimbabwe is no longer able to control a significant proportion of its diamond exports.
According to KP statistics, Zimbabwe is holding a large stockpile of 1.3 million carats unexported diamonds. “At current per carat averages, this could have a very high market value. Nobody knows whether this stockpile remains intact, and there are worries that some of it may have been used as barter for weapons and other imported goods,” according to PAC.
NGOs say this reflects badly on the Kimberley Process, designed to halt trade in conflict diamonds. “If the enforcement of regulations leads to human rights abuse and indiscriminate extra-judicial killing, this is little better than the problem the KP seeks to end. And if a country cannot, even using these tactics, control the illegal export of its diamonds, the Kimberley Process must take action.”
NGOs, industry and some governments have demanded a strongly worded statement from the KP condemning the violence, and some have called for Zimbabwe’s expulsion.
India, which chaired the Process in 2008, refused to issue the statement, saying it requires full KP consensus.
PAC noted that one country, identified only as a neighboring country, is blocking the criticism, claiming that the KP is not a human rights organization. Insiders identified South Africa as the country preventing the declaration.