Friday, November 26, 2010

Swiss Church Group criticizes certification of Zimbabwean diamonds

Bread for All criticizes the certification of Zimbabwean diamonds

Lausanne, 25 November 2010 Press Communiqué

Numerous human rights violations are being committed in Zimbabwe’s diamond mines by state security forces. Bread for All (Switzerland) is calling on the Government of Switzerland, as a member of the Kimberley Process, to demand the exclusion of Zimbabwean diamonds from the Kimberly Process (KP) which certifies diamonds for international trade. The Swiss Government must also call on the Kimberley Process to broaden the definition of blood diamonds to include diamonds originating from areas where human rights violations are committed by government forces.

Zimbabwe is one of the world’s biggest producers of rough diamonds. Marange district, eastern Zimbabwe, experienced a diamond rush in 2006 with the invasion of more than 30 000 illegal miners. The Geneva-based Zimbabwe Advocacy Office, a partner of Bread for All, reports that several human rights violations have been committed in Zimbabwe’s diamond mines by state security forces.

In October 2008, the Government of Zimbabwe deployed its army in order to control the region. During the military operation more that 200 miners and villagers were killed according to a Human Rights Watch report.[1] Since the military’s installation around the diamond fields, human rights are being committed frequently, notably, forced labour, child labour, torture, beatings and abductions. In addition, soldiers are reportedly forcing miners to work for them and smuggle diamonds.

Certification despite human rights violations

Zimbabwe is a member of the Kimberley Process, an organization that brings together governments, businesses, and civil society with the goal of regulating international trade in diamonds in order to combat “blood diamonds”, that is to say diamonds that serve to finance wars of rebel groups against governments. In November 2009, the KP suspended sale of Marange diamonds. In July 2010, after two missions of enquiry, the KP adjudged that Zimbabwe had met “the minimum criteria of the certification process for selling its uncut diamonds”, since diamond sales do not finance rebel groups. Zimbabwe was therefore authorized to hold a first diamond auction to international buyers in August 2010. Rapaport, a leading diamond brokerage company based in the US, immediately announced that it would not purchase Marange diamonds due to their connection with serious human rights violations.

Strict certification criteria is necessary

Currently the production of diamonds is not going towards national development as the diamond trade is being controlled by an army under the heel of President Mugabe. This situation is all the more alarming in that Zimbabwe suffers from widespread hunger and a severe economic crisis.

Bread for All therefore makes the following recommendations:

To the Government of Switzerland:

As a member of the Kimberley Process, Switzerland should request that Zimbabwean diamonds be excluded from KP Certification Scheme.
The Swiss Government should ask the KP to include in its criteria for ‘blood diamonds’, the human rights violations committed by the government forces (not only by the rebel groups).

To the Diamond Sector:

Refuse transactions on Zimbabwean diamonds, as long as the human rights situation does not improve.

To Swiss Consumers:
Make enquiries with jewelers on origin of the diamonds and refuse to buy those originating from Zimbabwe.

For more information:
Yvan Maillard Ardenti
Programme Officer, Finance and Corruption
Phone: 031 380 65 73 or 079 267 0109

[1] Human Rights Watch, ‘Deliberate Chaos, Ongoing Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe’, New York, June 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

SADC: Urgently Deploy GPA Monitors to Zimbabwe

Gaborone, 23 November 2010

On November 22, 2010, a delegation from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition held a positive and progressive meeting with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat Executive Secretary, Dr. Tomaz A. Salomao in Gaborone, Botswana. The meeting focused on SADC’s role in efforts to find a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s political conflict and clarify the sub-regional position on elections and the lifespan of the coalition government as the guarantors of the Global Political Agreement between. We acknowledge and appreciate this valuable engagement with Dr. Salomao and his team and look forward to continued engagement.
We wish to reiterate our call to action for SADC to urgently:
1. Deploy SADC monitors to Zimbabwe to comprehensively assess and ensure the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) for restoration of political stability, peace and human security paving the way for Zimbabwe to hold credible elections;

2. Ensure that the SADC Monitors particularly focus on pushing the political parties in Zimbabwe to create a conducive environment for the holding of democratic elections that are free from violence and intimidation and where the people of Zimbabwe can genuinely and freely express their will;

3. Indicate categorically that elections will only be held after SADC and the African Union - as guarantors of the GPA – make an independent assessment of conditions on the ground and certify that the environment is conducive and that necessary institutional and legislative reforms have taken place to allow for an election that meets SADC standards on the conduct of democratic elections. This includes ensuring that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is fully capable (technically and financially) of managing and delivering a convincing election which will lead to a peaceful transfer of power; that there is a clean and updated voters’ roll whose compilation should be the responsibility of ZEC and not the partisan Registrar-General; that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora have a right to vote; and that soldiers return to the barracks and play no part in electoral affairs;

4. Provide for SADC, AU and UN election monitors to be deployed to Zimbabwe at least six months before any election is held and to maintain such monitors for at least another three months after the conclusion of elections in order to prevent violence and intimidation and;

5. Push the political principals in Zimbabwe to genuinely commit to finding a lasting solution to the political conflict thereby creating fertile conditions for economic and social development. Without a solid foundation of political stability and peace, any improvements in the economy will not be sustainable;

6. That all the parties should agree on regional and international observers that should be invited to monitor the elections. The minister of Foreign affairs should only invite foreign observers that have been agreed to by all the parties represented in the coalition government.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition works to promote democracy, socio-economic development, peace and security in Zimbabwe and across southern Africa.

For more information please contact:
Crisis In Zimbabwe Coalition Regional Coordinator: