Kimberley Process ends ban on Zimbabwean diamonds

The Kimberley Process has decided to lift a freeze on the sale of diamonds from Marange fields.

Kinshasa: The Kimberley Process has decided to lift a freeze on the sale of diamonds from Zimbabwe`s disputed Marange fields, the head of the global "blood diamonds" monitor said.

"We have decided to lift the measure which prevented Zimbabwe from exporting its diamonds in the Mbada and Kanadai mines in the Marange region," in eastern Zimbabwe, Mathieu Yamba, chairman of the Kimberley Process said on Thursday.

"A team of two monitors will visit other mines to see if they conform to the Kimberley Process before giving the green light to the lifting of a ban on exports," he said.

The Marange fields, touted as Africa`s richest diamond find of the decade, have been at the centre of a years-long controversy over abuses by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe`s military.

Monitors say the military seized control of the fields in late 2008, violently evicting tens of thousands of small miners and then beating and raping civilians to force them to mine the gems.

Human rights groups say about 200 people were killed, and Kimberley Process investigators later documented "unacceptable and horrific violence against civilians by authorities", prompting a ban on exports of the gems.

The suspension of sales from Marange has done little to stem the flow of smuggled diamonds across the nearby border with Mozambique and then to overseas markets.

Bureau Report

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