News director of JCK Rob Bates outlines how a report in UAE newpaper The National, based on comments by Kimberley Process chair Ahmed bin Sulayem, wrongfully reported that diamond exports from the Central African Republic will soon resume thanks to, it claims, a deal brokered by Ahmed bin Sulayem. "The article quoted Bin Sulayem as saying: 'The effective resumption of exports from CAR was one of the main priorities of the KP chairmanship 2016, and I am particularly proud that we have been able to break the deadlock that has obstructed effective exports for so long', writes Bates, "Yet, four separate sources involved in the KP tell me this is not true, and the blockade is still in effect. A few grumbled the chair overstepped his bounds with his announcement, though there is talk he was misquoted. (Emails to Bin Sulayem and the KP chair’s office were not returned.)"
As we reported last week, the KP is considering reinstatement of diamond exports from CAR, but with certain caveats. Bates points out that, "Last year, at the request of the CAR government, the KP settled on criteria that would put [the diamond producing area of] Berbérati back in business. These criteria are tougher than is standard for the KP (they amount to “KP plus,” as one source put it), with an additional export procedure meant to track the movement of the diamonds from the mine." While the KP does not make a habit of granting certain areas of countries the right to trade in diamonds, due to the living standards in the country, the issue of smuggling and concerns about national stability, the KP is considering reinstatement. This all depends on the decision of a KP monitoring team, and as Bates reports, "That team will ultimately make the call, sources say, not the [KP] chair." Bates raises the further question as to what happens to the stockpiled diamonds if CAR gets the green light, which would only apply to newly mined diamonds.