International advocacy group Global Witness, a major coalition partner in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, said Monday it has quit the diamond watchdog, pointing to the recent Kimberley decision to allow diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange field to be sold internationally as one of the main reasons for its protest resignation.
Global Witness described the Kimberley decision to certify Marange diamonds for global sale as “shocking,” and said the organization has failed to “evolve and address the clear links between diamonds, violence and tyranny.”
Global Witness in a statement said the Kimberley Process has shown itself lacking in the will to stop diamonds from fueling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe.
It said the group has become an accomplice of the laundering of diamonds whereby tainted stones from Marange are mingled with clean gems for sale.
“Over the last decade, elections in Zimbabwe have been associated with the brutal intimidation of voters," said Global Witness Director Charmian Gooch.
"Orchestrating this kind of violence costs a lot of money," Gooch said. "As the country approaches another election there is a very high risk of ZANU-PF hardliners employing these tactics once more and using Marange diamonds to foot the bill. The Kimberley Process’s refusal to confront this reality is an outrage.”
The Kimberley Process was established in 2003 to halt the trade in so-called blood diamonds. But it has been challenged by the Zimbabwe situation where alleged state human rights abuses are the issue, not the financing of rebel movements.
“The scheme has failed three tests: it failed to deal with the trade in conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire, was unwilling to take serious action in the face of blatant breaches of the rules over a number of years by Venezuela and has proved unwilling to stop diamonds fueling corruption and violence in Zimbabwe,” said Gooch.
Global Witness spokesperson Annie Dunnebacke told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira that the Kimberley Process is outdated.
Researcher Allan Martin of Partnership Africa Canada said the Global Witness decision was unfortunate, and signaled the need for other ways to police the diamond industry.
Zimbabwe diamond activist Farai Maguwu said the Kimberley Process is the poorer now that Global Witness has removed itself from the group.
But Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said Harare will not lose sleep over differences within the Kimberley Process, saying Marange diamonds are being sold and will continue to be offered to willing buyers on the international market.