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Cameroon Enabling CAR Conflict Diamonds: NGO

Dec 5, 2016 11:14 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Conflict diamonds from the Central African Republic (CAR) are entering the supply chain because of poor prevention controls, non-governmental group Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) alleged.

Rough stones are being smuggled across the border into Cameroon and adjudged conflict-free after they receive Kimberley Process certificates, enabling them to then be exported to international markets, PAC claimed.

Interviews with miners, traders and exporters show how diamonds are being smuggled across CAR’s 900 kilometer border with Cameroon, PAC said, alleging corruption among officials. Large shipments of embargoed, conflict diamonds pass through Cameroon’s transit hubs undeclared, it claimed.

PAC blamed Cameroon for failing to implement KP guidelines that are intended to prevent the export of diamonds used to fund rebel wars. The report, “From Conflict to Illicit,” comes on the eve of a KP review visit to Cameroon to assess the country’s implementation of its guidelines.

“While international outcry about ‘blood diamonds’ financing war in the Central African Republic sparked action to stop the trade, the same spotlight has not been turned on CAR’s neighbors,” said Joanne Lebert, PAC’s executive director. “Our investigation shows the reality on the ground and how conflict diamonds from CAR still have entry points to international markets through Cameroon."

The KP suspended CAR in 2013, meaning it was banned from exporting rough diamonds, after rebels took over the nation’s governance. Certain regions of CAR were declared compliant and re-admitted this year so that the country can ship a limited volume of diamonds.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, the United Arab Emirates-based chair of the KP for 2016, said the monitoring team overseeing exports from CAR has been probing the issue for several months, adding that PAC is part of that investigative team. A concrete push is needed to establish workable structures to manage these issues in a sustainable way, he argued.

“As the PAC study correctly notes, the actual rough diamond production of Cameroon is extremely small – 250 carats per month on average over the last three years,” Bin Sulayem continued. “The larger picture is, of course, the illicit trade coming from CAR.

"When we consider that one out of four people in CAR live directly or indirectly from mining diamonds, we must ensure that we are not inhibiting or starving a population by making rules, procedures and guidelines that will prevent them entirely from being economically active,” Bin Sulayem said.

Top image: hdptcar/UNICEF
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Tags: Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Blood Diamonds, cameroon, car, Central African Republic, Conflict Diamonds, diamonds, Fair Trade, Jewelry, Kimberley Process, Rapaport News
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