Angola: Diamond sanctions

News and Press Release
Originally published
JOHANNESBURG, 1 February (IRIN) - The British-based NGO, Global Witness, has said the Angolan government had to tighten up its diamond certification system to ensure that stones procured by the UNITA rebel movement were not inadvertently sold on the international market.
In a statement on Tuesday, the NGO which specialises on links between environmental and human rights abuses, said it appeared that the Angolan Government had listened to criticisms about serious loopholes in its Certificate of Origin system which came into force following the UN embargo on unofficial Angolan diamonds on 1 July 1998.

But the loopholes were undermining international efforts to implement the UN embargo. For the controls to work, it said the Angolan government had to publicly clarify whether the lead institution applying the system was the commerce ministry or the state diamond company, Endiama.

It also had to clarify the roles of the National Bank of Angola (BNA) and the ministry of mines.

"Currently there is serious lack of clarity between these players as to how the system works," the statement said. "Who is ultimately responsible for ensuring the effectiveness of the control system? What steps have been taken to ensure that the officially licensed buyers are not buying UNITA or other unofficial goods, which could then be acquiring official certificates? This is a critical point. Can the Angolan Government confirm that all diamond related payments will be made through the BNA?" These issues had to be addressed urgently if the international community was to have confidence in diamonds traded from Angola, it said.

"It is vital for the entire diamond trade that countries emerging from conflict, or that are in conflict, seek to control diamond production. It is also vital that importing governments and the commercial sector of the diamond industry get involved," Global Witness said. It said that the giant South African diamond house, De Beers, "in particular, should take the lead in urgently needed industry reforms" to stop diamonds from funding conflict in countries such as Sierra Leone and Angola.


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