HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) _ One of the world’s largest diamond trading networks said Monday, Aug. 16 it will expel members who knowingly trade Zimbabwean stones that have been tainted by allegations of killings and human rights abuses.
The U.S.-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network said that any of its 10,000 members offering tainted Zimbabwean diamonds also will have their names published.
Last week, Zimbabwe held its first auction of some 900,000 carats of diamonds, ending a nine-month ban. The Kimberley Process approved stones from two mines that monitors said were operating at “minimum” international standards.
The Rapaport Diamond Trading Network, though, said that did not guarantee the stones “free of human rights violations.”
Rapaport said respected human rights groups have documented severe human rights abuses at the diamond fields near the eastern border city of Mutare since their discovery in 2006. Those include the killing of at least 214 allegedly illegal miners by the military and “rampant abuses of forced labor, child labor, beatings, smuggling and corruption.”
The Zimbabwe Ministry of Mines accuses human rights groups of “peddling falsehoods” over alleged violations in the eastern Chiadzwa and Marange districts that were sealed off by police and the military.
The ministry said successful world sales would benefit the embattled nation and anger Western opponents of longtime ruler President Robert Mugabe.
Robert Mhlanga, head of a diamond mining holding company working alongside the government, told The Associated Press on Monday that offers were made at the first auction Aug. 11 for all 900,000 carats cleared for sale by the Kimberley Process.
Deals with some of the international buyers were completed and buyers left Harare in possession of batches of diamonds. Other deals were still being processed, he said.
A second auction is scheduled in September. Mhlanga said values of the diamonds were still being tallied.
Pictured above is Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.