NGOs have backed a decision to allow Zimbabwe to remain within the Kimberley Process and continue exporting diamonds despite serious human rights abuse by military.
The Kimberley Process (KP) was established in 2002 to track diamonds from mine to market and safeguard consumers against buying so-called 'blood diamonds' that are used to pay for arms and military activity.
Campaign group Global Witness had wanted Zimbabwe to be expelled from the scheme following the military takeover of the country's Marange diamond fields in 2008, one of the richest deposits in the world, which led to the deaths of more than 200 people.
A human rights activist, Farai Maguwu, has also recently been arrested by Zimbabwean authorities after researching and exposing state-sponsored violence and military involvement in mining and smuggling.
One last chance
However, Global Witness now says it will support a decision to allow exports from the country subject to a review of conditions at the Marange field next month but admits it will consider leaving the process if the latest agreement fails to stop diamond-related violence in the country.
'We can't stay in a system that rewards bad behaviour,' said campaigner Annie Dunnebacke. '[But] for us to leave would be a huge decision because it would fall apart without the NGOs' support, and it is the only safeguard we have to prevent diamond miners gaining access to legitimate markets.
'Ultimately the success or otherwise of this agreement will be determined by what the main players do next. The ball is now in Zimbabwe's court to make good on its promises and act to end one of the most egregious cases of diamond-related violence for many years,' she said.
Amnesty International estimates that as many as 3.7 million people may have died in African conflicts fuelled by diamonds.
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