Zim diamonds still a concern

2010-06-27 21:25

Cape Town - Zimbabwe's diamond mining remains a concern but the Kimberley Process watchdog hasn't agreed on how to act because the country is not in a "blood diamond" conflict, an industry leader said on Sunday.

The international body failed last week to reach consensus on whether to allow Zimbabwe to resume trade in gems from its Marange fields, where the Kimberley Process last year documented brutal abuses of workers by the military.

"Right now in Zimbabwe, where we can all agree that the diamond mining that is taking place is a concern, there is no overt conflict and we have a legitimate government," Jonathan Oppenheimer, De Beers executive director, said at the CNN Global Forum.

"And so the Kimberley Process itself is in a very difficult position. It feels like it needs to act. The community wants it to act. We've seen a dialogue within the Kimberley Process system that is looking at ways to act."

The issue deadlocked a Kimberley meeting in Israel last week. Talks are due to resume July 14-15 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Human Rights Watch claims harassment of workers is continuing and that some as young as 11 are forced to hand their finds to military guards, who then sell them on the black market.

The Kimberley Process gathers governments, industry and civil society to stem the flow of "blood diamonds" - rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.