Blood diamonds, a sordid bankroller of war

2010-08-05 14:25

Supermodel Naomi Campbell’s testimony today in the war crimes trial of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor is the latest flash of glamour to shine on the sordid issue of blood diamonds.

Campbell’s testimony on the so-called “blood diamond gift” she allegedly received from Taylor in 1997 has made headlines across the world, bringing fresh attention to Taylor’s three-year-old trial and the larger issue of diamond sales that finance wars and abusive regimes.

Oliver Courtney, a spokesperson for Global Witness, said: “Ms Campbell’s testimony reminds us of the damage that can be done by power-hungry individuals who illegally exploit their country’s natural resource wealth to wage campaigns of violence and brutality against civilians.”

The anti-blood diamond group said the supermodel’s testimony “draws fresh attention to the problems which still plague the international diamond trade”.

Campbell today told a court in The Hague she had received a gift of “dirty-looking stones” she assumed were from Taylor after a 1997 dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela.

Taylor, Liberia’s president from 1997 to 2003, is charged with murder, rape and enslavement for his alleged role in the 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone that claimed some 120 000 lives.

He is accused of receiving illegally mined diamonds in return for arming rebels who enlisted child soldiers and murdered, raped and maimed civilians, cutting off their limbs and carving initials into their bodies.

The conflict was portrayed in the 2006 film Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Sierra Leone is one of several diamond-rich countries whose natural wealth has been used to finance bloody wars and gruesome human rights abuses in recent years.

The list also includes Angola, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), all of which have suffered wars fuelled partly by money earned on diamond sales.

Human rights activists have also accused Guinea, Venezuela, DRC and Zimbabwe of profiting from the sale of diamonds linked to human rights abuses.

The UN in 2000 voted to create an international certification scheme to stop the trade in diamonds used to finance violence.
Launched in 2002, the Kimberley Process monitors member countries and requires international shipments of rough diamonds to be accompanied by a certificate guaranteeing they are “conflict-free”.

But while activists have praised the scheme for reducing the number of conflict diamonds on the global market, they say problems remain.

Global Witness used Campbell’s high-profile testimony today as a platform to appeal for Kimberley Process monitors to crack down on Zimbabwe, where the watchdog documented gross military abuses against civilians by soldiers guarding the Marange diamond fields.

Global Witness said: “Once again, diamond wealth is propping up a system of violence, abuse and illicit activity with horrendous consequences for a civilian population that should be benefiting from its country’s natural resources.”

Monitors had in January halted the sale of stones from Marange, one of the largest diamond finds in history, but last month agreed to allow Zimbabwe to resume limited sales.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.