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Zimbabwe Army Tightens Grip on Diamond Field Despite Pending Kimberly Ban

The Zimbabwe Defense Force has put more troops in the Chiadzwa diamond field in Marange district of eastern Manicaland province rather than withdrawing them as recommended by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, Human Rights Watch has charged.

The group urged Zimbabwean diamonds be banned from sale on world markets. It charged that human rights abuses continue in Marange despite recent report by a Kimberly Process review mission confirming Human Rights Watch allegations of killings and smuggling.

Human Rights Watch said in a new report that in addition to failing to remove soldiers from the area, Harare has also been unable to end related human rights abuses there.

Last month a Kimberly Process team traveled to Marange district to assess compliance with the international organization's standards for the lawful mining, documentation and exportation of diamonds by member countries. It found numerous violations.

The Kimberly Process gave Harare until July 20 to take corrective action, including pulling out military forces which it said were illegally mining and selling diamonds.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu initially indicated the army would stage a phased withdrawal from Marange, but Human Rights Watch said that in fact the military presence has grown.

Human Rights Watch Senior Researcher Tiseke Kasambala told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that there have been no meaningful moves by Harare toward compliance with changes recommended by Kimberly Process officials.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...