Zim defies gems rule

HARARE - The Zimbabwe high court has approved the sale of diamonds from a field plagued by human rights abuses, as Harare moved to defy the Kimberley Process, state-run media reportedyesterday.

HARARE - The Zimbabwe high court has approved the sale of diamonds from a field plagued by human rights abuses, as Harare moved to defy the Kimberley Process, state-run media reportedyesterday.

The sale of 300000 carats of diamonds from the Marange fields was blocked last year by the international regulator (KP) after it found that Zimbabwe had failed to comply with human rights standards.

Harare initially stopped the sale pending authorisation from local authorities and the KP, which was set up to prevent the sale of so-called blood diamonds, which are used to fund rebel movements.

The Herald newspaper reported yesterday that the high court had approved the sale of British-owned African Consolidated Resources diamonds.

Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu reiterated Harare's determination to defy the KP, even though Zimbabwe is a member of the group.

"We are going to benefit from our diamonds whether with the Kimberley Process or not," he said, according to New Ziana news agency.

He also said that the "country's detractors" were manipulating the process to block Zimbabwe from benefiting from diamond sales.

"Our detractors always throw spanners in the wheels when we want to move forward," he said.

The KP last year documented violence by Zimbabwe's military at the diamond fields, including forced labour, torture and beatings of civilians. Last month, an investigator visited the country to determine if human rights standards were met in the Marange fields and found that while efforts were made to improve procedures, they were not being implemented. It gave Zimbabwe until June to fix the abuses. - Sapa

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