Zimbabwe Responds to Diamond Mine Furor

Zimbabwean authorities reportedly plan to withdraw the army from the Marange diamond-mining fields following a request by investigators from the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to suspend production and exports from the area over security and rights concerns.

As I noted in a previous post, human rights advocates have charged the army with murder, torture, coercion and endorsing the use of child labor in the area. Rights groups also claim that funds from the sale of Zimbabwean diamonds — estimated to be worth over $200 million a month — routinely make their way into the financial war chest of President Robert Mugabe and his allies.

Zimbabwean officials had argued that the army presence was to guarantee security and prevent illegal mining operations. But outcry from the rights community prompted Kimberly officials to visit the area last week for the third time since 2006. In their subsequent report, the Kimberly investigators set two to three weeks as a timeframe for Zimbabwe to demonstrate compliance.