The United Nations has asked India, the world's largest diamond cutting
and polishing center, to take more care to ensure conflict diamonds
from Sierra Leone do not enter the country, Reuters reports.
According to Reuters, Harjit Sandhu, one of two members of the U.N.
Security Council's panel on Sierra Leone visiting India, said India's
government should check the credentials of importers of expensive
diamonds. The two members of the U.N. panel also want the Indian
government to keep better records of diamond imports.
Indian diamond industry representatives say they have already put their
own safeguards in place. The country doesn't import diamonds directly
from conflict countries in Africa. Most diamond imports come from
trading centers in Antwerp, Israel and London, but officials admit it's
possible for conflict diamonds to enter India indirectly through one of
the trading centers. However, Sanjay Kothari, chairman of India's Gems
and Jewelry Export Promotion Council, told Reuters, "We have already
made it mandatory for all importers of diamonds to get their suppliers
abroad to certify they are not supplying blood diamonds." In addition,
he says the diamonds that come from Sierra Leone are more expensive
while Indian industry focuses on lower-end and smaller diamonds.
In other conflict diamond news, Liberian President Charles Taylor told
that British diamond interests were to blame for Sierra Leone's civil
war. According to Reuters, Taylor told reporters for the French
newspaper Le Monde, "The war in Sierra Leone is a war over diamonds, but
not because Liberia wants diamonds. This war is happening because the
British want the diamonds. There are British officials who own diamond
mines in Sierra Leone through companies with shares based in Vancouver."
Taylor has been accused by British officials of supporting the RUF
rebels in Sierra Leone, but he has repeatedly denied the accusations.
- by Julia M. Duncan