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Human Rights Watch Tells Consumers to Refuse Zimbabwe Diamonds

Human Rights Watch called on governments, companies and consumers to refuse to buy Zimbabwe diamonds until all members of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme agree the country is protecting people’s rights.

The Kimberley Process, which was created in 2003 to prevent so-called “blood diamonds” from financing conflict, said on June 23 that exports from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields could resume. The decision was broadly supported by African countries, while the U.S. and Canada objected.

“If diamonds from Marange are KP certified we’d be arguing for consumers not to buy those diamonds from sellers,” Tiseke Kasambala of Human Rights Watch said by phone from Johannesburg today. “The allowing of exports while there are ongoing abuses is a terrible decision.”

In 2009, restrictions were placed on the export of gems from the Marange field, which is near Zimbabwe’s border with Mozambique, after an investigation found human-rights violations and smuggling at the site. In 2008, more than 200 people were killed when Zimbabwean security forces took over the concessions, according to a Human Rights Watch report.

Kimberley Process President Mathieu Yamba said June 23 that Zimbabwe was now complying with the organization’s requirements and had guaranteed cooperation with civil society representatives and special monitoring of its exports. Yamba did not answer his phone when called for comment by Bloomberg today.

“Consensus cannot mean that everyone has to say ‘yes’,” he said June 23 in response to Canada’s objection.

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