Global Witness today called on EU foreign ministers to strengthen measures which restrict sales of diamonds from Zimbabwe's controversial Marange region to Europe.
The warning comes as Belgium pushes for sanctions against Zimbabwean diamond mining interests to be dropped. EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday to conclude negotiations.
"Global Witness' investigations point to a serious risk that diamond revenues could be used to fund violence in this year's election. The Belgian government is claiming concern for the Zimbabwean people; however its true interests are closer to home in the diamond markets of Antwerp," said Global Witness diamonds campaigner, Emily Armistead. "EU members seeking to promote democracy and stability in Zimbabwe should avoid a ménage-à-trois with Belgium and its diamond dealers this Valentine's day."
Global Witness published detailed evidence last year indicating that diamond revenues are providing off-budget financing to ZANU-PF controlled security forces with a history of committing electoral violence. Investigations have revealed links between joint-venture diamond mining companies in eastern Zimbabwe and military, police and intelligence organisations loyal to Mugabe. When elections last took place in 2008, these same groups were involved in attacks against the opposition, reportedly killing over 200 people and torturing thousands.
The sanctions, designed to encourage Zimbabwe's transition to democracy, are increasingly dividing opinions across Europe's foreign ministries. Whilst some members believe that restrictive measures should remain in place until Zimbabwe's elections later this year, the Belgian government is pressing for sanctions against the state-owned diamond company, Zimbabwean Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), to be dropped immediately.
Global Witness is calling for:
- ZMDC to remain on the list of entities affected by restrictive measures and;
- A joint-venture mining company with links to senior Zimbabwean military officials, Anjin, and Hong Kong-based businessman Sam Pa to be added to the list.
"Relaxing measures against Zimbabwe's diamond sector now could mean a serious cash injection for security forces with a track record of voter intimidation and violence, just months before the 2013 election," continued Armistead. "The EU should hold a steady course, and restrict trade with diamond mining operations in Marange until free and fair elections have taken place."
Restrictive measures against Zimbabwean individuals and companies have been in place since 2002 and are reviewed annually. The deadline for the current review is 18 February and is expected to be agreed at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
Global Witness' investigations indicate that ZMDC, joint venture company Anjin, and businessman Sam Pa are involved in off-budget financing of military, police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), a secret police force loyal to ZANU-PF. For more information on Global Witness' research into these links, see http://www.globalwitness.org/library/update-following-financing-parallel-government-report and http://www.globalwitness.org/library/zimbabwes-diamond-sector-and-eu-restrictive-measures
The Kimberley Process is a government-to-government certification scheme for rough diamonds set up in 2003 to prevent diamonds from fuelling conflict and human rights violations. Global Witness withdrew from the Kimberley Process (KP) in 2011. A key reason for leaving the process, which defines conflict diamonds as those used to fund rebel groups, was its failure to address problems in Zimbabwe's diamond sector. In 2012 the KP gave a green light to all exports from diamond mining operations in Zimbabwe, despite concerns raised by Global Witness and other civil society organisations.