The blood of the diamond trade continues to flow in Zimbabwe, according to a Human Rights Watch report detailing violence in the nation’s Marange diamond fields, an area we wrote about in our Dec./Jan. issue.
In its June 20 report, Human Rights Watch calls for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, an international group of governments, diamond companies, and civil rights organizations that aims to end the violence of the diamond trade. The report comes a year after the civil rights group’s initial push to remove Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process, effectively shutting it out of the legitimate legal diamond trade.
Soldiers in the Marange diamond fields “are engaging in
forced labor, torture, beatings, and harassment,” according to the AP. And despite last year’s push for suspension, the Kimberley Process decided last November to impose only light punishments–military withdrawal and added police
security in the region.
But the violence persists, both in and outside the fields. In May, activist Farai Maguwu, head of Zimbabwe’s Center for Research and Development, met with Abbey Chikane, who is appointed by the Kimberley Process to monitor conditions in the fields. Maguwu turned himself in to the police
after they “beat up, arrested, and detained members of Maguwu’s family,” according to the report.
Moreover, Zimbabwe “has not complied with the findings and recommendations imposed” by the Kimberley Process, Rona Peligal, acting director of the Human Rights Watch Africa division told the AP.
“We’re worried that the KP members are looking so narrowly at their mandate that they’re going to miss the essential meaning of the KP,” Peligal said, “which is to prevent abuses regardless of who commits them.”
Many leading diamond companies–part of a $13-billion-per-year industry–are concerned too, Peligal said. If the KP doesn’t quell the violence in Zimbabwe, “consumers will rightfully be concerned they are buying blood diamonds.”