14 June 2010
Global Witness, the human rights watchdog, has warned that the Kimberley Process, the scheme that is meant to certify diamonds, could be funding political violence in Zimbabwe.
Click to hear the report:
The Marange diamond fields are among the richest in the world. They've been widely linked to human rights abuses and have reportedly been a source of revenue to win support for President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party. But despite this the Kimberly Process has stopped short of expelling Zimbabwe from its certification scheme.
Now a report by Global Witness claims that by turning a blind eye to alleged abuses, the Kimberley Process has effectively condoned a system that has swapped military control of the diamond fields to the establishment of joint venture companies. Companies which allegedly break Zimbabwean law and which reinforce a system of patronage which Global Witness claims "facilitates state looting".
An investigation into the joint venture companies revealed a lack of transparency and also the presence of dubious individuals who've been arrested in the past for diamond smuggling.
The report concludes that given Zimbawe's fragile coalition government, and history of political violence, the Zimbabwean authorities are simply "exchanging one form of criminality for another".
Karen Allen, BBC News
Click to hear the words:
- stopped short of expelling
almost forced them to leave
- turning a blind eye to
- effectively condoned
in effect given its approval of
- joint venture companies
business enterprises where two or more companies or organisations take part, sharing the initial investment, risks and profits
- allegedly break Zimbabwean law
are accused of breaking the law. This accusation hasn't yet been proved in a court of law
- reinforce a system of patronage
encourage a policy of supporting
- facilitates state looting
enables or allows the government to steal (here, from the diamond mines)
- a lack of transparency
there isn't enough openness and honesty about what they (the joint venture companies) are doing
moving things illegally from one country to another
- fragile coalition government
weak or frail government made up of two of more political parties