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Kimberly Process Team Cites "Horrific" Violence in Zimbabwe Diamond Field

A Kimberly Process review team that visited the Chiadzwa diamond field in Marange district of Zimbabwe's eastern Manicaland has delivered a hard-hitting report that refers to "horrific" violence against civilians by security forces, saying operations should be shut down.

Team leader Kpandel Fiya, Liberia’s deputy minister of mines, told Zimbabwean Mining Minister Obert Mpofu with respect to violence against civilians that the team documented “wounds, scars from dog bites and batons, tears, and ongoing psychological trauma.”

In the report addressed to Mpofu, Fiya continued: “Sir, I was in Liberia throughout the 15 years of civil war, and I have experienced too much senseless violence in my lifetime, especially connected with diamonds. In speaking with some of these people, minister, I had to leave the room. This has to be acknowledged and it has to stop.”

Among its concerns, the 11-person team noted "unacceptable and horrific violence against civilians by authorities in and around Chiadzwa."

The team found “substantial indications” of non-compliance with the Kimberly Process Compliance Scheme to halt the sale of so-called conflict or blood diamonds, citing inadequate internal controls and security, and concerns about smuggling involving the military.

The report said Zimbabwe could be suspended from the Kimberly Process scheme, and that the team envisions “significant ongoing interaction” with Zimbabwean authorities to bring the country into compliance. The team asked for acknowledgement by Zimbabwe of its failure to meet world standards, and an expression of its willingness to remedy that.

The team recommended the suspension of production in and exports from the Marange field until security and controls are improved, and the diamond field is demilitarized.

Speaking for the Kimberly Process, World Diamond Council Chairman Eli Izhakoff told VOA reporter Sandra Nyaira it is in Harare's best interest to comply with the recommendations.

Deputy Mines Minister Murisi Zwizwai told VOA that the government accepts the team’s findings and will gradually remove soldiers from Marange.

Human Rights Watch researcher Dewa Mavhinga, who helped prepare a recent report alleging wide abuses in the Marange field, said he thinks Harare will find it hard to comply.

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