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CAR Claims Diamond Smuggling Slowing

Export ban and rise of social media exacerbated problem, says African country’s mining minister.
Jul 10, 2017 7:05 AM   By Rapaport News
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The Central African Republic (CAR) defended itself recently against allegations that dealers were smuggling rough diamonds out of the country using social media, arguing that the phenomenon was becoming less common.

A report by Global Witness last month claimed sellers and middlemen were negotiating deals through Facebook, WhatsApp and other online platforms. The organization based its findings on a year-long undercover investigation.

“The government recognizes that cross-border smuggling of rough diamonds is a criminal activity that has always existed,” mining minister Leopold Mboli Fatran said in response to the report.

The Kimberley Process (KP) suspended CAR in 2013 — meaning the country was banned from exporting rough diamonds — after rebels took over the nation’s government. Last year, the KP readmitted the country and permitted it to resume exports from certain regions that the KP deemed compliant with regulations to prevent conflict-diamond trading. But conflict diamonds were still entering the global market, Global Witness claimed.

Mboli Fatran contended that the suspension itself had made smuggling more likely. The rise of new technologies and social networks also exacerbated the problem, he said.

“However, the government declares that this phenomenon is clearly declining at present further to the courageous measures that have been taken to ensure better control of the green zones recognized by the KP in the western part of the country,” the minister stated.

Since the ban was lifted, only 21,369 carats of rough diamonds have been considered ready for export, whereas the total from the five compliant zones could amount to 175,000 carats once the diamond trade has full confidence in the supply from CAR, he pointed out.

In a later statement last week, the World Diamond Council said it and the Kimberley Process monitoring team “recognize the challenging environment in which the CAR monitoring authorities operate,” but would continue to press the government to increase its efforts to guarantee diamond traceability.

The illustration was commissioned by Global Witness from an artist based in CAR.
Tags: car, Central African Republic, Diamond Smuggling, facebook, Global Witness, Kimberley Process, KP, Leopold Mboli Fatran, mining, Rapaport News, Rough Diamonds, social media, WhatsApp, World Diamond Council
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