Renewed call for ban on Zimbabwe diamond sales

CALLS for an international ban on Zimbabwe's diamond sales are set to dominate this week's meeting of the global body set up to prevent trade in "blood diamonds" in a key test for the regulatory regime.

CALLS for an international ban on Zimbabwe's diamond sales are set to dominate this week's meeting of the global body set up to prevent trade in "blood diamonds" in a key test for the regulatory regime.

Civil society groups who form part of the Kimberley Process are demanding the suspension of Zimbabwe's international diamond trade, citing human rights abuses in the Marange diamond fields.

A Kimberley investigation in July documented "unacceptable and horrific violence against civilians" in Marange, after months of reports of killings, forced evictions and other abuses by the army in the region near the Mozambican border.

The Kimberley Process, named for a South African mining town, was created in 2003 with the aim of curbing the flow of "blood diamonds" into the mainstream market.

About 70 diamond producing countries, industry groups and civil society organisations form part of the Kimberley Process, which is meant to stop diamond sales from benefitting armed groups.

The military has taken control of the Marange fields, which is believed be an important source of revenue for President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

Countries like Namibia, chairing the meeting that opens Monday in Swakopmund, have so far opposed suspending Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP

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