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Don`t let Zimbabwe sell diamonds: Rights group

HRW doesn`t want Zimbabwe to be allowed to sell diamonds in global markets.

Johannesburg: A top human rights group has criticised a recommendation to allow Zimbabwe to sell its diamonds in international markets, saying any such decision must be postponed until abuses are stopped.

Human Rights Watch`s comments come after Abbey Chikane, a monitor for the body set up to halt the trade in rough diamonds that fuel conflicts, said that Zimbabwe is "on track" to meet international diamond mining standards, in a report said.

The body, Kimberley Process Certification, is expected to follow his advice. Kimberley Process investigators have previously recommended Zimbabwe`s suspension over their findings of illicit trading and human rights abuses.

Chikane says in his report that "the government of Zimbabwe has demonstrated its commitment to meet the minimum requirements of the KP," regarding strengthening internal controls, curbing illegal digging and regulate alluvial mining. Chikane could not be reached yesterday.

HRW`s senior researcher for Africa, Tiseke Kasambala, says Chikane`s advice is flawed because it ignores alleged human rights abuses in the diamond-rich Marange district.

Allegations of killings and rights violations by troops and smuggling of "blood diamonds" have surrounded the discovery of the extensive Marange deposits, in eastern Zimbabwe, four years ago.

Kasambala says HRW is concerned about the silence surrounding the situation.

"We expected these countries to put more pressure on the Zimbabwe government to stop human rights violations. We strongly believe that these `blood diamonds` should not be allowed to enter the international markets until the ongoing abuses ended," Kasambala said.


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