Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 16:40 UK

Call for Zimbabwe diamond ban

Generic pic of cut diamonds
The Kimberley Process aims to stem the flow of blood diamonds

Zimbabwe should be banned from the international diamond trade, according to the organisation set up to stop the use of diamonds to fund conflict.

According to a leaked report, the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme has recommended the country be suspended for the next six months.

The move follows reports that the Zimbabwean army has forced some people to search for diamonds at gunpoint.

Participants in the scheme must prove the origin of any diamond being traded.

It seeks to assure consumers that by purchasing diamonds they are not financing war or human rights abuses.

Many people search for diamonds in Zimbabwe's Merange region, where the gems can be found close to the surface.

Ban sought

Members of the Kimberly Process scheme met in Namibia earlier this month and although its conclusions were not made official, a leaked report reveals it wants Zimbabwe to be officially banned from the international diamond trade.

Elly Harrowell from the pressure group Global Witness said that Zimbabwe's army was forcing local people to mine for diamonds.

"The Zimbabwe national army is now running the mines there as a way of funding themselves," she said.

They're forcing local people to do the mining and then smuggling diamonds out and taking the money for themselves."

The Kimberly Process group's members are now seeking talks with the Zimbabwean government.

However, even if the country is officially suspended from trading, experts acknowledge that it may prove almost impossible to prevent all the diamonds which are mined illegally from reaching the international market.



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