The Central African Republic (CAR) says it will engage the African Union chair President Robert Mugabe to seek solutions following strong objections to its Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) registration bid by civil society at the ongoing intercessional meeting in Luanda, Angola. Civil society says that diamond revenue can be used to finance civil conflict in CAR. Kazungui maintains that civil society is pushing a western agenda and wants to avoid greater African participation in formulating decisions that inform diamond trade.
During the KP Intersessional in Luanda, Angola, KP Chair Bernardo Campos gave an overview of the first six months of the Angolan KP Chairmanship, in particular the projects providing technical assistance extended to Central Africa Republic, the leading role in the retrieval of the exports of diamonds from Cote d'Ivoire, as well as the clarification of some matters concerning Venzuela. Campos expressed the KPCS's hope that work can continue to enable the Central Africa Republic to resume its exports of diamond the earliest and Venezuela to overcome its self-suspension.
Rough diamond are the biggest source of export revenue for the Central African Republic (CAR) even though it has been suspended from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme since May 2013, says the Enough Project, which placed a value of $39 million for its diamond trade in 2014 and almost $13 million for the January-April of this year.
In a special report, Agence France Press tells the story of artisan diamond diggers at a mining site near Boda in the south of the strife-torn Central African Republic. Despite the Kimberley Process ban, the illegal trade in diamonds, channelled through neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, DR Congo and Sudan, is thriving. French and UN peacekeeping troops have tried to wrest control of the mines from the armed groups so the legal trade in diamonds can restart, vital to putting the shattered economy back on its feet.
The American State Department has published an update on participating countries and entities in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, with the latest revision following an update from August, 2014 to reflect some changes to country trade bodies, to add Mali and to restate the suspension of Venezuela and the Central African Republic (CAR) from trading rough diamonds.
The Kimberley Process, which seeks to halt the trade in diamonds from conflict zones, will review the nation’s gem business by the first week of May, Bernardo Campos, the chairman of the certification program, said on April 21. Shipments from the country have been banned since May 2013, two months after the fall of the capital, Bangui, to a rebel assault.The Central African Republic’s government is confident that talks with the Kimberley Process about resuming diamond exports from the country will resume after an imminent review, Planning Minister Abdallah Kadre Assane said.
According to the Angolan Press Agency (ANGOP), the Angolan minister of Geology and Mining, Francisco Queiroz, handed over various technical assistance equipment for the artisanal exploration of diamonds to Central African Republic (CAR) minister of Geology and Mining, Joseph Agbo in Luanda last week. Diamond exports from CAR are currently suspended by the Kimberley Process.
A “peer-review mission from the Kimberley Process,” composed of industry officials, members of civil society groups and representatives from member countries, will visit CAR from April 28 to May 5 to review the embargo currently imposed by the KP, Joris Heeren, deputy head of the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, confirmed to Bloomberg. French Ambassador in Bangui, Malinas said France supports partially lifting the embargo in the Western part of the country.
The Kimberly Process ban enacted in 2013 on the Central African Republic, previously the 10th largest producer (in value) of diamonds, may have brought trade to a standstill, but has not stopped smuggled diamonds from bleeding out of the country. Since the ban was introduced, at least 140,000 carats of diamonds valued at $24 million have been smuggled out of the country, said Aurelien Llorca, coordinator of a UN panel of experts on CAR.
“It’s a classical case of blood diamonds.”
CAR Smuggling Hub for Diamonds Despite KP Suspension
An annual report by the U.S. Department of Labor discusses progress made by countries worldwide to eradicate child labor in mines. Cote D’Ivoire, Colombia and Brazil are deemed to have made good progress, while CAR and DRC still have a long way to go.
The French Embassy in Bangui is calling for the lifting of sanctions which are claimed to be behind a rise in rough diamond smuggling in the conflict rife country. An Angolan and a CAR company are buying rough diamonds and waiting for the lifting of the embargo, but will the goods be deemed as conflict-free, after the embargo is lifte?
Angola, which is to chair the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) next year, says that it will focus on following up on the situation in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) and Venezuela.
Angola’s Presidency of the Kimberley Process in 2015 receives positive prognosis from KPCS official Estanislau Buio. Until 2015 the main KP priorities will be the Central Africa Republic and Venezuela. Other plans include helping Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea Conakry to resume exports of raw diamonds, and implementing the Moscow and Washington declarations on internal control mechanisms.