Abuses Uncovered At Zimbabwe Diamond Field

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 30 (UPI) — Members of the Kimberly Process are turning a blind eye to rampant abuses at Zimbabwe’s diamond mines, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch discovered that, through a six-month investigation, police and private security guards working at the Marange diamond field shot, beat and unleashed attack dogs on local unlicensed miners.

“The evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch contradicts claims that areas controlled by private mining companies, instead of by the Zimbabwe government alone, are relatively free of abuses,” the rights group said.

The advocacy group stated that abuses were rampant at the Marange field despite contrary statements by members of the Kimberly Process, a measure enacted to prevent so-called conflict diamonds.

The BBC in an early August probe accused security forces in Zimbabwe of operating torture camps at diamond fields despite the country’s 2009 pledge to pull armed forces from Marange.

HRW called on the country’s Mining Ministry to step in and urged members of the Kimberly Process to halt exports from Marange.

“The diamonds from the Marange fields are tainted with abuse,” Tiseke Kasambala, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

An auction of diamonds from Zimbabwe last year brought in less revenue than expected as the country struggles with transparency issues with the stones.

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