[JURIST] Human rights abuses in Zimbabwe's diamond mining industry were on the agenda Monday at the annual meeting of the Kimberley Process (KP) [advocacy website], the global organization dedicated to suppressing trade in so-called "conflict diamonds." The objective of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) [text, PDF] is to curtail trade in conflict diamonds, or rough diamonds used by insurgencies to finance their movements. Civil society groups such as Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada, and Green Advocates, have called for the suspension of Zimbabwe's international diamond trade due to the human rights violations [Telegraph report] allegedly committed by the Zimbabwean army against civilians and illegal workers in the Marange diamond fields. The army seized the fields in 2006 from the British company, African Consolidated Resources. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has also urged [press release] KP to suspend Zimbabwe.
From June 30 to July 4 of this year the KP appointed a team to conduct a Review Mission [press release, PDF] in Zimbabwe. They suggested that Zimbabwe's membership to the organization be revoked [Times Live, report] for at least six months while the KP could ascertain that minimum standards were being met. The KP then sent its Chair to Zimbabwe for informative purposes. Despite the allegations, Zimbabwe's deputy minister of Mines and Mining Development of Zimbabwe, in an address delivered at the KP Intercessional Meeting [press release, PDF] earlier this year, emphasized Zimbabwe's dedication to the principles and effective implementation of the KPCS. Illicit trade in rough diamonds has been closely linked to armed conflict [UN backgrounder] in Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sierra Leone. Since its inception in 2003, the KP has operated [backgrounder] by endeavoring to require its members to follow the regulations set forth by the KPSC, and in turn certifies their shipments of rough diamonds as "conflict-free."