Blood diamonds watchdog group quits in protest
An early proponent of the United Nations effort to prevent so-called blood diamonds from reaching global markets announced Sunday that it was quitting the oversight group to protest the sale of uncut gems from Zimbabwe, which is accused of human rights abuses in one of its largest diamond fields.
The withdrawal of the Global Witness watchdog group from the Kimberley Process certification program, which is governed by diamond-trading nations, highlights growing problems in the system set up in 2003 to stop sales of rough diamonds from African war zones.
“Nearly nine years after the Kimberley Process was launched, the sad truth is that most consumers still cannot be sure where their diamonds come from, nor whether they are financing armed violence or abusive regimes,” Charmian Gooch, a founder of London-based Global Witness, said in a statement. “It has become an accomplice to diamond laundering — whereby dirty diamonds are mixed in with clean gems.”
Several other advocacy groups said they were reconsidering support for the system, which has been embraced by 75 countries. A coalition of organizations boycotted the oversight group’s most recent meeting, which took place last month in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The global diamond industry, which stands to earn billions of dollars from gems found in eastern Zimbabwe’s Marange deposit, has been split over human rights issues.