Zimbabwe court approves 'blood diamond' sale

27th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Zimbabwe high court has approved the sale of diamonds from a field plagued by human rights abuses, as Harare moved to defy the Kimberley Process, state-run media reported Tuesday.

The sale of 300,000 carats of diamonds from the eastern Marange fields was blocked last year by the international regulator after it found that Zimbabwe had failed to comply with human rights standards.

Harare initially stopped the sale pending authorisation from local authorities and the Kimberley Process -- set up to prevent the sale of so-called blood diamonds, which are used to fund rebel movements.

However, the state-run Herald newspaper reported Tuesday that the high court has now approved the sale of diamonds belonging to British-owned African Consolidated Resources.

Mines minister Obert Mpofu reiterated Harare's determination to defy the Kimberley Process, even though Zimbabwe is a member of the group.

"We are going to benefit from our diamonds whether with the KP (Kimberley Process) or not," he said, according to the state-run New Ziana news agency.

Mpofu also claimed that the "country's detractors" were manipulating the process in order to block Zimbabwe from benefiting from diamond sales.

"That is why our detractors always throw spanners in the wheels when we want to move forward," he said.

The Kimberley Process last year documented violence by Zimbabwe's military controlling the diamond fields, including forced labour, torture and beatings of civilians.

In March, a KP investigator visited the country to determine if human rights standards are being met in the Marange fields, which cover 66,000 hectares (163,000 acres).

The investigator had found that while efforts had been made to improve procedures, they were not being implemented. It gave Zimbabwe until June to fix the abuses.

© 2010 AFP

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