A global human rights watchdog, Human Rights Watch (HRW), has castigated the decision to allow exports from Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange diamond fields, saying it goes against the spirit and purpose of the Kimberley Process (KP).
HRW’s business and human rights director Arvind Ganesan said: “Governments and companies should repudiate the decision and refuse Zimbabwean diamonds until participants in the Kimberley Process can make a clear decision about the export of these diamonds.”
He accused KP chairman Mathieu Yamba of making the decision without consultation.
“Yamba unilaterally abandoned previous requirements that Zimbabwe be monitored for human rights and authorised exports of Marange diamonds . . . to prevent abuses,” Ganesan said in a statement.
The decision allows the exports without any monitoring for human rights abuses or evidence that Zimbabwe is complying with the KP standards.
“Governments and companies should ignore his decision unless they want to make blood diamonds available to consumers and ruin the credibility of the Kimberly Process as well,” Ganesan said.
Diamond exports from Marange had been suspended since June 2009 because of alleged police and military abuses in the minefields, accusations the government has dismissed as false.
“These included killings, beatings, and forced labour and rampant smuggling of diamonds in contravention of Kimberley’s rules,” Ganesan said.
In November 2009, Zimbabwe and the KP agreed on a joint work plan in which Zimbabwe promised to carry a phased withdrawal of the armed forces from the diamond fields.
The country also agreed to allow a monitor to examine all shipments of diamonds from Marange and to certify that they met KP standards.
However, critics say Zimbabwe is yet to meet all the requirements. Zimbabwe has since indicated that it would sell its diamonds to those willing if the West and Europe maintain their hardline stance on the country.