Conflict Diamonds from CAR entering international markets through Cameroon – Report

diamondCameroon is reportedly allowing conflict diamonds from the Central African Republic to cross over its borders and into the legal supply chain.

This is due to poor controls, smuggling and corruption, a report copied to has said.

The report, From Conflict to Illicit Mapping the Diamond from Central African Republic to Cameroon investigated the failure of Cameroon’s implementation of the Kimberley Process—the international diamond certification scheme meant to stop the trade of conflict diamonds.

The report comes on the eve of the Kimberley Process Review Visit to Cameroon which evaluates the country’s implementation of internal controls that govern diamond production and trade.

Diamond exports from the Central Africa Republic were internationally embargoed after a coup d’état in 2013 sparked a civil war. The Kimberley Process partially lifted the embargo on zones it deemed compliant and conflict-free earlier this year. Yet, Partnership Africa Canada found the illicit trade of conflict diamonds is ongoing, the report said.

“While international outcry about ‘blood diamonds’ financing war in the Central African Republic sparked action to stop the trade, the same spotlight has not been turned on CAR’s neighbours.

Our investigation shows the reality on the ground and how conflict diamonds from CAR still have entry points to international markets through Cameroon,” Joanne Lebert, Partnership Africa Canada’s Executive Director was quoted as saying in the release.

Interviews with miners, traders and exporters detail the smuggling of Central African Republic’s diamonds across the 900km border its shares with Cameroon, corruption amongst officials charged with verifying the origins of diamonds, and large shipments of embargoed conflict diamonds passing through Cameroon’s transit hubs have not been declared, the report noted.

“As the Kimberley Process visits Cameroon, it must take action immediately and demonstrate to companies, retailers—and most importantly to consumers—that it is able to stop the flow of conflict diamonds,” Offah Obale, Researcher for Partnership Africa Canada, and the report’s author was cited as saying.

Partnership Africa Canada therefore, calls on the Kimberley Process to place Cameroon under Special Measures which would require a tightening of internal controls within a three month period, during which time no diamond would leave Cameroon without expert and external oversight.

The report concludes with calls on a Regional Approach to tackle the illicit trade of CAR’s conflict diamonds, bringing in other neighbours such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, for a harmonized strategy.

By: Pamela Ofori-Boateng
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