- Ghana found itself in a quagmire of choosing to get rid of blood diamonds or risk its Kimberly Process status. After a careful thinking, Ghanaian representatives at the just ended international Kimberly Process plenary meeting in the Batswana capital Gaborone have agreed to get rid of blood diamond trafficking in its territory.
Consequently, the plenary has agreed to help Ghana to strengthen its internal controls diamond controls.
The Gaborone meeting came on the heels of a damning United Nations published report that exposed millions of dollars worth of blood diamonds from Sierra Leone that found itself in Ghana through illegitimate trade. Once these conflict diamonds entered Ghana, they were fraudulently certified as conflict-free, the UN report had discovered.
According to the UN, diamonds are classified as conflict diamonds when they originate from areas controlled by armed factions or forces opposed to legitimate and internationally recognised governments. The proceeds of such diamonds are normally used to fund military action to oppose constitutional governments.
The just ended meeting was part of preparations ahead of the Kimberly Process presentations at the UN General Assembly next month when Botswana's President Festus Mogae will join other leaders to make presentations.
The Botswana meeting has banned Ghana from exporting diamonds for three months. Accra was also advised to improve its internal control of the controversial diamond trade and urged to must register miners, dealers and exporters. The meeting further suggested that it was to send team of experts to help Ghana to conform to the Kimberly Process regulations.
With effect, all diamonds from Ghana will be identified and examined thoroughly by a system adopted by the World Diamond Council (WDC), which was established six years back specifically to ascertain diamonds from conflict zones.
Recently, a report by the UN Panel of Experts on Côte d'Ivoire also accused Ghana of being a conduit for the wholesale of conflict diamonds from rebel-held areas in Côte d'Ivoire. The increase in the average price of diamonds in Ghana had been one of the indications of the wholesale laundering of conflict diamonds.
A media rights group, Article 19 was quick to add its voice to advise Ghana to "implement all the mechanisms required under the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which includes providing detailed information regarding laws and regulation that are in place to ensure the end of illicit diamond trade."
In a statement today, Article 19 also urges Ghana to enact a Freedom of Information Bill (still pending in Parliament), which would include a detailed procedure for requesting and releasing information of public interest. Ghana's government is advised to establish and enforce a transparent and comprehensive system of inspection and audit of rough diamonds.
WDC works in partnership with governments and non-governmental organisations to develop, implement and oversee a tracking system that manages the export and import of rough diamonds.
The Kimberly Process currently entails 71 countries, including those of the European Union, WDC and representatives of civil society involved in arresting the export and sale of rough diamonds.
Civil society groups have been calling on Kimberly members to apply firmness in their actions or else they will lose their credibility, which is why the Botswana meeting adopted so many reforms that all geared towards controlling the trade of illicit diamonds in the world. Botswana is the world's largest diamond producer.
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