July 29, 2005
Lebanon Reprimanded for Diamond Trade
Non-governmental organization for human rights Global Witness publicly denounced Lebanon's commitment to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. Global Witness said its investigations reveal Lebanon imported rough diamonds valued at US$156 million from the Republic of Congo, which was expelled from the Kimberley Process in 2004. The imports, reportedly backed up by Lebanon's customs data, occurred in February and March.
ROC was expelled from the Kimberley Process because it did not comply with the certification scheme and guarantee that conflict diamonds did not enter the legitimate diamond market. Lebanon is not presently a member of the Kimberley Process, so its business with ROC does not legally contravene the certification scheme. The Kimberley Process is aimed at ridding the world of diamonds that are traded to finance armed conflict. But Global Witness says that Lebanon, through its actions, is seriously undermining its own efforts to join the Kimberley Process.
"By trading with a country removed for being in blatant violation of the scheme, Lebanon makes a mockery of the Kimberley Process," said Corinna Gilfillan of Global Witness. "The Kimberley Process should not admit Lebanon until it has declared the value of its current stock of rough diamonds and is able to convincingly explain these significant imports from a country which is a known conduit for smuggled diamonds."
Global Witness t calls upon Lebanon to show its commitment to eliminating the trade in conflict diamonds by seizing these imports, declaring its current stock of rough diamonds and releasing a list of companies trading in rough diamonds.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.