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Congo Diamond War Abused Human Rights in Congo

2003: Congo Diamond War Put De Beers’ Reputation in Danger

Nov. 2003

A recent United Nations report calls for further investigation of the role De Beers played in the bloody 3-year civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. De Beers, in self-defense, quickly fired back a statement of their “disappointment” with the U.N.’s findings.

The U.N. and other international legal and humanitarian groups are calling for full investigations of the war—in which rebels largely thrived on trade of minerals like diamonds.

The U.N. report, released in October, said, “the activities of the giant diamond mining firm, De Beers, needed more investigation on possible human right abuses,” according to Reuters and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

De Beers, meanwhile, issued a statement to continue its claim that the diamond giant was not involved in diamond-buying activities, and that it does not exercise control over the purchases by its individual sightholders, two of whom are accused of buying diamonds from Congo illegally.

“De Beers made it perfectly clear… earlier this year that it does not—and cannot legally—exercise any form of management control or supervision of sighholders’ purchases of rough diamonds on the open market,” the De Beers statement declared.

According to De Beers, while it does not control the buying activities of Sightholders, the sightholders in question claim to have conducting all buying within the official government channels—and have the documentation to prove it.

According to the International Criminal Court, based at The Hague, those who purchased rough diamonds from Congo during the bloody war may be charged with complicity in war crimes and genocide. The prosecutions could extend throughout Europe and to the United States, USA Today reported.

The war in Congo, which will be the subject of an international investigation of crimes against humanity, killed about 3 million people.

The U.N. further accused senior officials within Congo of funneling billions of dollars of state assets into the hands of private companies. Shortly after this U.N. report, Congo’s President Joseph Kabila dismissed the management committee of the state diamond mining company, Miba. Managers of Miba's largest diamond mine, and the Zimbabwean soldiers guarding it, are also accused of organizing the theft of up to $25 million in gems a year.


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