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blood diamonds

Partnership Africa Canada and the Network Movement for Justice and Development have issued a joint report on diamonds in Sierra Leone. ‘The Diamond Industry Annual Review: Sierra Leone 2004’ report examines the country’s transition from war to peace and the extent to which conflict diamonds can now be called “development diamonds”.

The report, which is the first in a series, describes the turnaround in an industry which in 1985 exported only 50,000 carats legally (and probably ten times that amount illegally), increasing to ten times that amount last year, following two years of peace. The report describes the dividing years as lost time when the region’s diamond were controlled by the Revolutionary United Front who used the sale of diamonds to finance a rebel war.

The report describes the temptations of smuggling and corruption in the casino economy of diamond digging, and examines Sierra Leone’s ability to comply with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for rough diamonds. The report also describes initiatives for better management of the diamond sector, and tries to answer a question posed by a New York diamond dealer: “Should I buy Sierra Leone diamonds?”

In addition, the report examines the impact of diamond mining on the environment, and looks into the issue of child labor. The author’s of the report describe it as a ‘who’s who of the country’s diamond business’ that benchmarks problems and achievements in one of the country’s most important industries and the starting point for a discussion over whether, and how, diamonds can create badly needed employment and bring lasting development to the poor countries where they are mined.