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  Words in the News
  Diamonds provide a source of wealth for countries such as Sierra Leone. But illegal exports can also help fund rebel groups. Many diamonds are traded through Antwerp, in Belgium.
  Audio Listen to BBC correspondents Justin Webb and Barnaby Mason

8th June 2000

The illegal trade in diamonds

  Audio Listen to Justin Webb
    Diamond traders in Antwerp are sensitive about their international image. A United Nations report earlier this year criticised what it called extremely lax controls here and suggested that an existing UN embargo on diamonds from areas of Angola controlled by UNITA rebels was being widely flouted.

international image: the way they appear to countries

lax: if a system is lax, rules are not obeyed, or standards are not maintained

flouted: if you flout a law, you deliberately disobey it

NEWS 2    Audio Listen to Barnaby Mason
    At the heart of the issue is the question of how sure a trader can be about where a stone is from. Ownership certificates show the country a diamond is imported from, but that might not be the country of origin. For example, Liberia has few diamonds of its own. Most of its exports probably come from the rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Traders here say it’s impossible to tell apart what might be regarded as a "clean" Liberian diamond from a "dirty" Sierra Leonean one. The problem of so-called conflict diamonds should be addressed, they say, with controls in Africa.

At the heart of the issue: Can a trader be sure where a diamond comes from? If so, how sure? That lies at the centre of the problem

Ownership certificates : documents which show who the owner is

(i) "clean" and (ii) "dirty" diamonds: diamonds which have been bought (i) according to the rules, or (ii) illegally

conflict diamonds : diamonds which may have come from an area of civil unrest

NEWS 3     Audio Listen to the second part of the report
    The rebels control most of the diamond mining areas and the gems are smuggled out through Liberia. A UN ban would make dealing in Sierra Leone diamonds a criminal activity and put brokers on notice; they would be asked to sign a declaration that their diamonds did not come from Sierra Leone.To indicate the scale of the problem, the official said the Sierra Leone diamond trade last year was estimated to have been worth seventy million dollars, only one and a half million of that was legitimate.

smuggled out through: the diamonds are taken illegally into Liberia, and then exported to other countries

scale: size or extent

was estimated to have been worth: it was estimated that it had a value of 70 million dollars

that: refers to the 70 million dollars

legitimate: only that part of the trade was according to the law - the diamonds had not been smuggled

    Read about the background in BBC News Online

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