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Cameroon Accused of Fueling Conflict Diamonds in Central African Republic

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Having traced possibilities of opportunities in Cameroon, a new report has urged the Kimberly process to take action on such illegalities.

The Kimberly process is Cameroonian government’s international diamond certification scheme meant to stop the trade of conflict diamonds.

The policy also seeks to evaluate the implementation of internal controls that govern the production and trade of diamond in the country.

However, the report, From Conflict to Illicit: Mapping the Diamond Trade from Central African to Cameroon investigates the failure of the implentaion of the governmnet’s policy.

The report published by Patenership African Canada said Cameroon is allowing conflict diamonds from the Central African Republic to cross over its borders.

It also accused the government of permitting these conflicts into the country’s legal supply chain.

These processes the report said could be attributed to poor control system, smuggling and corruption.

Exportation of diamond from Central African Republic was embargoed internationally after a coup d’état in 2013 sparked a civil war.

However, the Kimberley process partially lifted the embargo on zones it deemed compliant and conflict-free early 2016.

But, PAC said its research discovered the illicit trade of conflict diamonds is ongoing.

PAC’s executive director Joanne Lebert said: “While international outcry about ‘blood diamonds’ financing war in the Central African Republic sparked action to stop the trade, the same spotlight has not been turned on CAR’s neighbours.”

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“Our investigation shows the reality on the ground and how conflict diamonds from CAR still have entry points to international markets through Cameroon,” Lebert said.

However, interviews with miners, traders and exporters revealed smuggling of Central African Republic’s diamonds across the 900km border its shares with Cameroon, corruption amongst officials charged with verifying the origins of diamonds and large shipments of embargoed conflict diamonds passing through Cameroon’s transit hubs undeclared.

PAC’s report is line with Cameroonian traders who buy diamonds from across the river—in the Central African Republic—and then on to buying houses in Cameroon’s East region.

Also, Offah Obale, a researcher for PAC and author of the report said: “As the Kimberley Process visits Cameroon; it must take action immediately and demonstrate to companies, retailers—and most importantly to consumers—that it is able to stop the flow of conflict diamonds.”

The report further called on the Kimberley Process to place Cameroon under Special Measures which would require a tightening of internal controls within a three month period, during which time no diamond would leave Cameroon without expert and external oversight.

It added that on a regional approach to tackle the illicit trade of CAR’s conflict diamonds, bringing in other neighbours such as Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, for a harmonized strategy.

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