London Chides Zimbabwe Over Diamond Fields

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LONDON, Aug. 8 (UPI) — Authorities in Zimbabwe are called on to conduct a transparent investigation into allegations of torture at the country’s Marange diamond field, London said.

Security forces in Zimbabwe are accused of operating torture camps at diamond fields, the BBC discovered. People who were released from the camp described the mine as a “place of torture where sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of the beatings.”

Zimbabwe in November 2009 agreed to a phased withdrawal of armed forces from diamond fields and pledged to certify that shipments from the Marange diamond field were conflict-free, part of the requirements of the Kimberly Process.

British Middle East and North African Minister Alistair Burt called on authorities in Zimbabwe to conduct a transparency investigation into the claims.

“The United Kingdom is absolutely committed to eradicating the trade of conflict diamonds,” he said in a statement.

The Zimbabwean army seized the lucrative Marange fields in 2008 and some reports have said Marange diamonds are funding the Zanu-PF Party headed by President Robert Mugabe. Mugabe threatened last year to leave the Kimberley Process.

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

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