NGO calls on EU to maintain Zimbabwe sanctions
London--Global Witness wants European Union foreign ministers to strengthen measures that restrict sales of diamonds from Zimbabwe Marange diamond fields, not ease them.
In a news release issued on Tuesday, Global Witness stated that Belgium is pushing for sanctions against state-owned diamond company Zimbabwean Mining Development Corporation “to be dropped immediately.”
The EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday to reach a final decision on the sanctions during their Foreign Affairs Council meeting. The EU has had sanctions in place against certain Zimbabwean individuals and companies since 2002. They are reviewed annually, and Monday is the deadline for this year’s review.
“Global Witness’ investigations point to a serious risk that diamond revenues could be used to fund violence in this year’s (presidential) election. The Belgian government is claiming concern for the Zimbabwean people; however its true interests are closer to home in the diamond markets of Antwerp,” said Emily Armistead, Global Witness diamonds campaigner.
Global Witness published evidence last year showing that diamond revenues are funding ZANU-PF-controlled security forces loyal to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe that have a history of committing violence around elections. During the last election in 2008, the ZANU-PF, along with other organizations loyal to Mugabe, reportedly killed more than 200 people and tortured thousands.
Global Witness said it wants the Zimbabwean Mining Development Corporation to remain on the sanctions list. It also wants the EU to add joint-venture company Anjin and Hong Kong-based businessman Sam Pa to the sanctions list. The organization said its investigations indicate that Pa and Anjin are involved in off-budget financing of military, police and the Central Intelligence Organization, a secret police force loyal to ZANU-PF.
“Relaxing measures against Zimbabwe’s diamond sector now could mean a serious cash injections for security forces with a track record of voter intimidation and violence, just months before the 2013 election,” Armistead said. “The EU should hold a steady course and restrict trade with diamond mining operations in Marange until free and fair elections have taken place.”
Marange is the area of Zimbabwe from which the Kimberley Process had banned exports at one point because of reports of violence against workers and smuggling. That ban was lifted in 2012. Global Witness, once one of the non-governmental organizations that act as observing members in the KP, withdrew from the process in protest of the decision.