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Swiss Group Urges Bern to Bar Sale of Marange Diamonds From Zimbabwe


The organization says the definition of "blood diamonds" should be modified to include human rights violations by government forces, as the current definition refers to rebel forces which it considers a loophole that has allowed Harare to market Marange diamonds internationally under Kimberley Process supervision

A Swiss international development organization has urged Bern government to bar trade in diamonds from Zimbabwe's controversial Marange field.

Bread For All, backed by Protestant churches in Switzerland, said human rights abuses continue to be reported in the Marange diamond zone, diamonds from which should not find a market in Switzerland.

The organization said the definition of "blood diamonds" used by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme should be updated to include human rights violations by forces of the state. The present definition refers to rebel forces, a loophole that has allowed Harare to market Marange diamonds internationally under Kimberley supervision.

The Zimbabwe Advocacy Office, local partner of Bread For All, reports ongoing rights violations in the Marange diamond field of Manicaland province.

Diamonds from Marange are currently barred from export until the Kimberly Process has achieved a consensus on the disposition of the Zimbabwean stones. The organization met in Israel last month but was unable to reach a consensus on Marange gems.

Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has threatened to sell diamonds with or without Kimberley approval, saying Zimbabwe has met all of the group's requirements.

But political analyst Charles Mangongera said Harare must first address human rights abuses in Marange and completely demilitarize the zone, among other outstanding items in a work plan to which it agreed at a 2009 Kimberley Process meeting.

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