Zimbabwe diamonds being smuggled here – Canada NGO

Diamonds from Zimbabwe are being smuggled here, according to a recent report from Partnership Africa Canada (PAC); an Ottawa, Canada-based group fighting for the eradication of “blood diamonds” around the world.

In a recent report, the international pressure group said that diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa field are being smuggled as far as Sierra Leone and Guyana. In its report, the group accused the industry watchdog of manufacturing “polite fiction” to cover up for shortcomings by Zimbabwean authorities. It said that Zimbabwe exhibited a wide variety of serious problems ranging from smuggling and illegal seizure of diamond leases to outright denial of easily verifiable murder and human rights abuse in its diamond fields.

“In 2009, Zimbabwean industrial diamonds, easily identified by their size and colour, showed up as far afield as Guyana and Sierra Leone,”, the agency said in its report titled “Other Facets” released last week.

It accused the Kimberley Process (KP) of turning a blind eye to the illegal activities taking place in Zimbabwe and other diamond-producing or importing countries. “If low-value diamonds like these travel that far and that easily in search of a laundry, it is clear than high value goods have even greater range and speed,” the group observed.

It said that the KP in particular was not doing anything to stem a thriving illegal diamond market that has emerged in Mozambique’s Manica town which is supplied with the precious mineral smuggled out of Zimbabwe by army and government officials.

Guyana is a signatory to the Kimberley Process, a regulatory system backed by the United Nations which seeks to track the international production and movement of diamonds. The Process stipulates that freshly mined diamonds should be sealed in registered containers that certify their country of origin and that diamond exporters do not accept unregistered gems that might profit insurgents or criminals.

The Kimberley Process evolved out of international concern over the role that diamonds have played in sustaining guerilla and terrorist operations in various parts of the world, notably in conflict ridden regions of Liberia, the Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone. Since its implementation the Kimberley Process has been chaired by some of the world’s leading diamond producers including South Africa, Canada and Russia.

The process was initiated in May 2001 when diamond-producing countries in Southern Africa met in Kimberley, South Africa in May 2000 to discuss ways of stopping the trade in “conflict diamonds” and ensuring that diamond purchases were not funding violence.

Several years ago when local diamond declarations were extremely high, it was believed that diamonds from Venezuela were making their way into Guyana.