HRW: Conflict diamonds still in Zimbabwe

Nov. 1, 2010 at 8:51 AM
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Zimbabwe still has work to do to convince the international community that abuses aren't taking place in the diamond industry, Human Rights Watch said.

Zimbabwe in November 2009 agreed to a phased withdrawal of armed forces from diamond fields and pledged to certify that shipments from the Marange diamond field were conflict-free.

"The government made a lot of promises but soldiers still control most diamond fields and are involved in illicit mining and smuggling," Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "Zimbabwe should mine its diamonds without relying on an abusive military that preys on the local population."

The rights group during the summer said parts of the diamond fields in Zimbabwe are still under control of national forces, which Human Rights Watch said is linked directly to diamond smuggling.

The group said its researches were "routinely obstructed" by government officials when it sent a team to review conditions at diamond fields in Zimbabwe in August.

The Zimbabwean army seized the lucrative Marange fields in 2008 and some reports have said Marange diamonds are funding the Zanu-PF Party headed by President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe threatened in February to leave the Kimberley Process but officials in September said Zimbabwe is "ready and willing" to work with the international community.

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